Things 3 just recently came out. It is Apple’s editors choice for a Task Management system. It is, no doubt, very nicely done. At first blush, you wonder what’s in this thing. However, it doesn’t take much time to realize there is a ton of functionality buried in the product.

It has a very clean and refreshing look in which you are presented with just a sheet of paper. You quickly though realize though that if you have done it right, you will have four distinct areas of functionality all intuitively put together so that they are easily accessible. These macro areas are:

  • the overall area such as work, home, computers etc
  • Projects that relate to an area
  • tasks within your project
  • and subtasks or a check that needs to be done to fiinish the task

Added to this superstructure is a substructure of information that adds extensively to the meaning of the superstructure and is irrelevant without that structure. As an example, all tasks have a due date and can be assigned reminders so that you’re assisted in meeting the due date. Further, you can prioritize the task as a High, Medium or Low importance task. There is tags which can be seen as tags or contexts or both.

Finally, you can flag your task with a drop dead due date that must be met. Obviously though, a restructuring of that date might be necessary but such is the way of world. Not everything goes exactly as you’ve planned but it is amazing how much a program such as this helps keep us on a working towards completion of what we have to do.

The GTD Model

A model helps us work with with an outline in which we can apply specific tools designed to accomplish what we need to do. David Allen, who put together the “Getting things Done” model was very frustrated with what he was working with at the time. Being a psychologist he decided to define what we do a long Getting Things Done and at its simplest GTD is a list oriented model in which we get things out of our minds, onto paper laid out in lists. There are many programs that can work a long this line but of course some are better than others, and to a large degree it is personal taste that defines which tool will suit you the best.

Things was initially designed as a GTD system but has evolved so that it is more flexible and can be applied in slightly different ways. When Things originally came out many loved it due to its comprehensive operation and its simpler approach to when working with it.

Things 3 is probably the best task management system for the Apple environment but this is key. It is solely for the Apple environment and this can be a problem and is becoming more of a problem with the passage of time. Many of the newest programs are designed to be fully cross platform and some of the older applications are becoming cross platform. This can only be viewed as a major benefit from numerous angles but goes beyond the scope of this article.


TickTick is one of the new kids block but it is also one of the nicest. If you like Things 3 you’ll love TickTick. At first blush, they appear quite different. However, as you use it and if you’ve used Things 3, you’ll be amazed at the similarities as opposed to any differences in these programs.

Tick has four major areas, like Things, that define how you will work with it:

  • Folders which are like areas in Things
  • Projects which help you meet your goals
  • Tasks within the project
  • and within the task you can call it either subtasks or a checklist which I find very valuable.

As you work through your tasks and eventually do everything in the project it will be time to say the project is complete and ready for archiving.

Visually TickTick is Stunning

Visually TickTick is stunning and this is one area where it is quite different than Thing’s white sheets. It is not gaudy with colour by any means but uses muted tones which distinguishes areas the program nicely.

TickTick is an intuitive program which is easy to grasp once you’ve spent a bit time with it. Although somewhat different than Things the program is probably more approachable than Things as hard as that is to believe.

The Clincher

TickTick is a fully cross platform solution running in:

  • IOS
  • OSX
  • Android
  • Windows

You not only have a great program to work with but it can cross many boundaries. If this is important, choice of either Things or TickTick are reduced dramatically. You could go with Things, if you really wanted to and get an inexpensive iPod Touch for those remote times you have to access some info, but having it cross system means you can use say an Android device. However, it really isn’t long ago people carried an iPod or Palm Pilot and a cell phone and survived just fine.

Decision Time

You can’t go wrong with either TickTick or Things but we have to call TickTick the winner as it’s as good as Things however it is cross platform. TickTick is new and people are just hearing about it and when they go and use it they don’t know why they’ve not heard of it previously. It is a fantastic product.

Yet, let’s say you preferred Things 3, which is excellent but you use an Android phone that you had to have for whatever reason. In this case, the only way to ensure you have your tasks with you remotely is to have an inexpensive iPod Touch to update tasks and view what you need to do when you get somewhere. Once in a WIFI area you would just update everything back to the server.

On the other hand, the TickTick team really has their heart in it. Culture Code might have but they seemed to let the product and the user languish for along time before they came out with Things 3.

Things 2 was liked by its users but ultimately it was pretty ho-drum. Things 3 is a re-envisioning of Task Management and although it doesn’t do magic it almost works in a magical way and flows with the user. TickTick works just like that also. It really is an assist and just flows with your rhythm instead of breaking it as you twist the product or yourself around to work with you.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either of these products. You’re choosing the best of the best. Throw in cross platform though and the need for that and TickTick would be the most logical choice. It is user choice for either product that might get others to rethink the whole area of Task Management but it is TickTick that will have developers realizing we don’t live in a one dimensional world; Apple doesn’t control this multiplexed world; and to be ahead of the game people and developers will need to recognize that.

For those a little interested the challenges of cross platform


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