Getting Things Done – Omnifocus vs Things

Getting Things Done – Omnifocus vs Things

With college on the way I wanted to take advantage of the plethora of great tools used for tracking to-dos, tasks, that kind of thing. I never found a method I was fully happy with on Windows, but I had heard great things about “Things” from Cultured Code, and “OmniFocus” from the Omni Group. So I set about downloading them both and tried them out.

What I liked about Things:

  • Much Nicer Interface. Very clean, very simple. Very Apple-esque.
  • Really simple. Add a task, drag it into the project, voila.
  • Easy to use – move tasks between categories depending on when you wanted them done.

What I didn’t like about Things:

  • Projects can be categorised into “Areas”. Makes sense. I wanted an Area for college work, one for Web work, one for Personal things and a few others. However, there is no way which I found to view these in hierarchy. All the Areas were shown in the sidebar, all the projects were shown in a big long list in the other. But there is no sense of them being connected. This is the only thing that put me off.

What I liked about OmniFocus:

  • OmniFocus is clearly a very, very powerful app and when using it I kind of feel like I am barely scraping the surface. It certainly involves a lot more than Things – and as such the interface is not as clean, in my opinion. However, it is still a very easy to use interface.
  • Perspectives, however daunting and very confusing they are when you first look at OF, they are a brilliant idea. Perspectives are how you want to “View” your tasks. For example, I have a perspective that shows all tasks due in the next 48 hours, so I can see what is ahead. I also have a view for Quick Tasks – tasks that will take me 15-30 minutes or less, meaning if I find myself with a spare hour I can immediately look for quick tasks I can do to fill the time.
  • Contexts – you can define where you are to do a specific task. Whilst not as useful for me, as I don’t move around as much, it’s useful in the sense that one of my contexts is “In Town”, which essentially stores things I need to buy when I am in town. Coupled with the iPhone app, this becomes very useful.
  • Also, you can categorise your projects into Folders, and those Folders into Folders and so on, solving my major gripe with Things.

What I don’t like about OmniFocus:

  • Some of the options are in places you would not expect. For example, recurring tasks are added from the “Inspect” panel, which is certainly not somewhere you would look. Many of the options are buried under menus and sub menus.

There really is not a lot I do not like about OF. I think when first loaded, you think it’s very daunting compared to Things, but once you get into it it really does work well. It will take a few days to get used to, but it pays back that time very quickly. Paul Boag is a user, and he has done two great videos over at his blog:


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