I’ve used Things longer than any other productivity system; this weekend I threw it away.
Things had its chance. I was initially enamored with it because the application forced very little religion on me and also easily adapted to my different productivity experiments I wanted to develop. The interface was simple, the application was stable, and, again, it stayed out of my way so I could focus on doing the work rather than worrying about doing the work.
I stuck with Things for the many years it lacked a credible sync strategy. Yes, I threw my Things database into Dropbox until the inevitable collision occurred by having two versions of the application running on different machines. Data corruption is usually grounds for immediate application deletion, but, again, Things integrated easily into my day, I knew all all the keyboard commands, so I went back to running a single instance.
The issue that pushed me over the edge had nothing to do with functionality or stability, but stagnation. I was performing my morning scrub on Things when I realized that nothing much had changed in Things UI in, well, years. Part of me has been fine with this lack of change because I don’t need my productivity system to do much more than capture a task, allow me to easily categorize and prioritize tasks, make it easy to search and filter them, and do all this work frictionlessly. “Things does these things well,” I thought to myself, “I don’t need anything else.”
Or do I? How can I trust that I’m using the state of the art in productivity systems when I’m using an application that took over two years to land sync I could easily use? What other innovations are they struggling to land in the application? Why hasn’t the artwork changed in forever? What is that smell? That smell is stagnation.
Over the course of the weekend, I moved everything I’m tracking into Asana. I’ve been using Asana on and off for a year. It’s added a little more friction and a little more religion to my task tracking process, but it’s also done something Things hasn’t done in years – it’s new bevy of functionality has me asking one of my favorite engineering questions, “How can I do this better?”