Smartphones

Things: Now cloud fortified

Will Kelly shows us the basics of using Things, a powerful and flexible iPhone to-do list app that now includes cloud synchronization.

I've often said that the road to productivity is littered with iOS task management apps, but Things from Cultured Code enjoys some staying power in the market due to their long history on the Mac platform. This is an app to check out when you need some more options to manage personal and professional tasks.

Let's take a look at some of the basics of using Things and Things Cloud, their new cloud synchronization service.

About Things

Things is a responsive app that includes the following features:

  • Today list for showing the tasks you want to accomplish on a given day
  • Projects and Areas of Responsibility, which let you setup the Things app to manage multiple aspects of your life
  • Focus using the Next, Scheduled for later, and Someday features
  • Customizable Tags for assigning priorities and context to your tasks
  • Repeating Tasks
  • Add due dates
  • Review completed tasks in a log book

Get started with Things

To get started:

  1. Purchase and download Things for $9.99 (USD) from the App Store
  2. When you open the app, the Lists screen will appear (Figure A)
Figure A

The Lists screen is a central point for all Things features.

Create projects

Things lets you create projects to better organize your tasks. I use the concept all the time to organize my tasks for writing TechRepublic posts and other small projects.

To create projects:

  1. When you tap Projects, the New Project screen will appear (Figure B)
  2. Figure B

    The New Project screen in the Things app.
  3. Tap the Title field, and type in a name for your project
  4. Tap Create In, and by default, the project will appear in Active Projects (optionally, you can label the project as Scheduled -- as in for a future date -- or Someday)
  5. Tap Save to save the project

Add a New To Do

To add a New To Do:

  1. When you tap the plus [+] sign, the New To Do screen will appear (Figure C)
  2. Figure C

    The New To Do screen.
  3. Tap on the Title field
  4. Type in your task
  5. When you tap Show Details, the Title field will expand with fields for Notes, Tags, and Due Date (Figure D)
  6. Figure D

    Add Notes, Tags, and a Due Date to your task.
  7. Tap Create in and then select where you want the task to appear
  8. Perform one or more of the following options:
    • Tap Notes. An Edit Notes screen will appear. Type in a note to accompany the task, and then tap Save.
    • Tap Tags. A list of tags will appear (some tags come with Things by default, and others you have to create). Tap on the tags you want to use on the task, and then tap Save.
    • Tap Due Date. The Edit Due Date screen will appear. Select the date when the task must be completed, and then tap Save.
  9. Tap in the checkbox when you complete the task

Focus using Next

To view on your Next tasks:

  1. Open Things
  2. Tap Next to open the Next List, which shows a few of your upcoming tasks across your projects and areas of responsibility
  3. Mark off a task when it's complete

Focus using Scheduled for Later

To view tasks scheduled for later:

  1. Tap Scheduled, and a view of tasks you've scheduled for later will appear

Create a new area of responsibility

To do lists hep manage multiple facets of our lives. An area of responsibility in Things can include a mixture of projects and tasks for one area of your life.

You have two options to create a new area of responsibility:

  • Tap Projects. From your list of your projects, select a project, and tap File (optionally, drag it onto an area in the sidebar)
  • Drag a project from the sidebar onto an area

To delete an area:

  1. Tap the disclosure triangle at the left-hand side of the Area heading
  2. Tap the respective Area in the sidebar
  3. Click on the gear button at the bottom of the sidebar, and tap Delete Area

Create a Someday list

Things includes the option to create a Someday list. Whether it's procrastination, billable work taking precedence, or some other reason, a Someday list can record the tasks you would like to get to when you have the time.

To create a Someday list:

  1. Tap Someday
  2. Tap the plus [+] sign to create a New To Do
  3. Tap Save to save it in your Someday list

Review the logbook

Things maintains a detailed logbook of every task you complete. When you mark a task as completed, the Logbook records it.

To review the logbook:

  1. Tap Logbook to see a list of your completed projects and tasks
  2. Scroll through the logbook as needed to review your completed tasks
  3. Optionally, tap Edit, and then you can tap on a recorded task to delete it

Using Things Cloud

A long missing feature in Things was cloud syncing. However, cloud syncing is now available with the introduction of Things Cloud, which stores your to-do lists and syncs them across your devices.

To use Things Cloud:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Things Cloud (Figure E)
  3. Figure E

    Things Cloud screen (cloud synchronization turned on).
  4. Slide the Things Cloud slider to On
  5. From the Account screen, tap Create New Account and complete the prompts to make a new Things Cloud account
  6. Tap Continue.
  7. Tap Accept Term to accept the Terms of Services
  8. The Things Cloud server will send you a confirmation email, and you'll enter the confirmation number into Things
  9. When you tap Continue, you'll see a thank you message
  10. Tap Continue, and Things Cloud will sync with your iPhone and return to the Things Cloud screen

Get your things together with Things

Things might have been a bit late to the cloud syncing party with Things Cloud, but this iOS app is flexible, easy to use, and now fortified with cloud synchronizations. It's definitely an app to consider if you're seeking a to-do list with more options and work across multiple devices. What cloud app do you use for creating to-do lists? Share you experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

1 comments
sparent
sparent

I don't see why Things is better than what comes with IOS since version 5.0. I don't see how it integrates with my Outlook or Google Agenda tasks. The one with IOS does. What does using iCloud get me? Is there a non-IOS version of Things that can access the data? I need to know a lot more about this app before I plunk down my $10.