Monday, February 22, 2016

Stop Digging Yourself a Bigger Hole & Get Stuff Organized with Things

"If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." 
 -Will Rogers 
Things Interface. Image Source
For the past month I've been using Cultured Code's Things program for keeping track of tasks and stuff I want to remember.  I really liked it and have found it to be very helpful. As I've written about before, I find myself becoming more and more forgetful with and ever growing amount of information. (See Dementia of the Preoccupied) It seems I have all sorts of things I want to remember and ideas, questions, and to-do items that pop into my head at inopportune moments, and if I don't make a note of them, I will forget.
I've tried numerous systems over the years, everything from digital notes and Post-Its, the Reminders app on my phone, and other programs similar to Things. Most often I'd just send myself an email, resulting in an ever growing inbox of unorganized items that could not be sorted by importance or categorized. This resulted in major inefficiencies of re-reading the same items and missing important items that were buried. I was digging myself into a bigger hole. Things has changed this.

One of the best things about Things is the fact that it works across all my devices. The app is on my iPhone, iPad and also my Mac. Any item I add syncs across all of these locations. It sounds simple, but is wonderful. Thoughts occur anywhere; access to your lists and tasks should mirror this. It also integrates with Siri, which is super helpful. Anytime I think of something I don't want to forget, I only need to tell Siri to "Remind me to..." and the item is added to Things. I love the convenience of this compared to my past inefficient systems. 
The four buckets in Things. Image from Things.
The features within Things program itself make it so much better than just using the iPhone's Reminders app or Notes. Each item that you add can be categorized in one of four buckets:
  1. Something that needs to be done Today
  2. Items that are Next
  3. Scheduled Items you assign a due date
  4. Items that can be put into a Someday bucket
There are many other features in the program, most of which I haven't even tried out yet. The interface is simple and it was easy to get started. It has a two week trial period, which is a great way to get started. The week I bought the program it was half off the $50 retail price which was a nice plus. 

I first heard about Things in December at the TIES Conference from Mark Wallace. Mark's presentation was entitled, "Redeeming Time: Finding Freedom from Overload" and was one of the best I attended. Mark shared the Will Rogers quote above and it fit my current lack of an effective system. He also mentioned the book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson which I had read and liked, so I was hooked. (See a previous post on Crazy Busy: You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul.) 

Mark talked about the "stuff generators" in our lives: email, social media, family, students, home. He pointed out that research has proven we can only hold four to seven things in our short term memories. Capturing and offloading it into the least amount of places is therefore necessary. Then we need to clarify and organizing our stuff into actions and outcomes, which you can do with Things. I am thankful I was at his presentation and saw this solution. Hopefully you find it beneficial, too.

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