Omnifocus -V- Things 2 - A Personal Perspective.

For the last two years or so, I have been using Omnifocus for my GTD life. Before Omnifocus, I used Things and was very happy using Things until I purchased my iPad and began generally doing more work on my iPad and laptop. Then I found it increasingly frustrating to be unable to synchronise across and between all my devices without being on the same network.


That was why two years ago I switched to Omnifocus and used MobileMe to keep me sync'd across all my devices. 

To be honest, I always had a number of problems with Omnifocus. 

The first was that no matter how much I tweaked the 'style' I always found it ugly. The desktop version, which was always my main usage for Omnifocus, was, and still is, not pleasing to the eye. I admit that the iPhone and iPad versions are much better on the eye, and is, from an aesthetic point of view, much more pleasant to use. Unfortunately, the 'i' versions were not my main usage. They essentially were used to check and tick off tasks for the day. 

Another issue I had with Omnifocus was the restrictive "Perspectives". I have three places where I do most of my work. The office, coffee shops and my home. However, with Omnifocus, I can only assign one place for each task whether or not it could be done in three possible places. I am sure there is some kind of hack to overcome this, but that would have involved having to think about the set up and to me that just misses the point of a GTD system. 

During the two years I used Omnifocus, it worked well for me and as a GTD system, I really do not have too much to complain about. The two niggles above were annoying, but not deal breakers, and I did find I could live with them. 

However, about two weeks ago, after three years of delays, broken promises and prevarication, Things finally introduced cloud syncing. Now the barrier for using Things as my GTD system has been removed. So I updated my version of Things and gave it a try. 

The first thing I was reminded of was just how beautiful Things is compared to Omnifocus. Everything you need is there in front of you and nothing else. Next actions are arranged logically and again aesthetically pleasingly. It is just simply beautiful to use. 

Even though I had not used Things for two years, I found it intuitive and no relearning effort was needed. It just does what it says it will do. 

Things allows me assign tags. As many as I want. This means my office / coffee shop / home perspective is solved as well as other tasks that can be assigned numerous contexts for example shopping for groceries etc. 

Things's cloud syncing is fast. I mean REALLY fast. I moved my Omnifocus syncing to Omnisync after MobileMe was retired and while it was okay, I would never describe it as being fast. Things is lightening fast. (whether to get it that fast was worth the three year delay though is debatable - I wonder how many sales Cultured Code has lost because of that delay?)

One of the new features in Things 2 is the daily review feature. Essentially when you open your daily next actions for the first time in the morning, you are presented with a yellow box in which to confirm or postpone you daily tasks. While I am sure some people may think this is just another task to complete each day, what I found is that I was naturally doing that each day anyway. Now I am forced in to a daily review, which to be honest is a good GTD practice to follow. 

Finally, I prefer breaking things down in to "Projects" and "Areas of Focus / Responsibility". Not all my actions are associated with projects. My work is freelancing and I like to have a place for each client. In Omnifocus I am forced to create a "Project" for each client, when really each client is not really a "Project" per se. This means that my "Project List" is full of "Projects" when in reality not all of those projects are on going items. In Things I can create my client lists as "Areas of Focus/ Responsibility". This makes much more sense, because some of my clients have no actions for months, and then suddenly I will have a lot of actions for the client. This also means when it comes to my weekly review I can look at each client individually and decide if anything needs doing. 

Overall, as a GTD system, I think Things is better than Omnifocus. The reason is that, to me, a GTD system is meant to create an environment where getting work done is the primary goal. Things does this perfectly. It is beautiful, so when you are reviewing your next actions you have a pleasant interface in which to work. Omnifocus on the other hand has far too many features in which to tweak and play with, thus putting the temptation of planning procrastination into your work environment. 

I am sure there are many Omnifocus users out there who would disagree with me, but for my workload and my lifestyle Things just works perfectly. That is why since the introduction of the lightening fast cloud sync in Things 2 I have switched back to Things.