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Evernote GTD Alternative: Things App

thingsAlmost everyone who begins GTD journey bumps across Evernote and start using it to store To-Do’s. I did the same too. After a brief stint with Evernote GTD, I realized that it was not meant for GTD. Though, some people (productivity experts) make it work, but I did not had the time or inclination to become an Evernote pro. Mainly because Evernote tends to get too cluttered and out of control if you do not spend time organizing it.

evernoteIn fact, I ended up wasting a lot of time setting up filters, notes and notebooks, almost trying to hack my way to GTD. Eventually I gave up. Like most (ordinary) people, I dumped Evernote but ended up using it for another reason (more on this later).

Since then, my quest to find a good To-Do app began. I tried Wunderlist, Omnifocus, Notational Velocity, Doit.im, Simple Note and many other apps (over two dozen apps in total).  At one point I got so frustrated that I wanted to go back to the good old paper.

 Until one day, I found -“Things for Mac“. I did not like it at the first glance (because it isn’t fancy at all) but after using it, I realized Things App was a bliss in the crowded world of GTD apps.

In just three days, with negligible cognitive effort – I went from beginner to a pro in using ‘Things’. After using it some more, I saw that devil was in details. And in those minute details Things App shines. Here are  some great aspects of Things App that makes it a poster boy from all productivity apps I have tried so far:

1. Lightweight interface

inboxA fundamental criteria I look for in a To-Do app is – light, easy and fast. ‘Things’ scores high on all of these parameters. It’s easy on users and machine alike. It’s an extremely lightweight native app, with low memory and cpu footprints.

2. Easy To-Do’s

Things app is purposefully built “less techy” with a little raw feel. And I totally love it. It has a very mild character , making you feel in control of the app, instead of app controlling you.  Pressing ‘Ctrl+Space’ gives you a new To-Do instantly no matter what software you are using. Dumping everything out of my mind can’t get easier. Moreover, I could drag and drop a To-Do item to an Area of responsibility, Project or a Person – no more typing of information in the ‘fields’. Things deliberately tries not  make productivity a ‘Task’ in itself.

3. Intuitive decision-making

The biggest reason why we need a prointuitiveductivity app is because it can show us a clear picture of what we need to do and allows us to take informed decisions. Things provides a quick visibility over all my projects and corresponding actions – in one single view. You can press CMD+T to  prioritize a To-Do for ‘Today’. If you press CMD+T again, the same To-Do shifts back to ‘Next’. Pressing on CMD+Y shifts a To-Do to ‘Someday’. All these things happens very swiftly. The App does not dominate you at all.

4. Day-specific alerts without behaving like a calendar


Most productivity apps try to become everything – right from calendar to storage. Things has marked a great boundary between what it is and what it isn’t. Even though it stores day specific events, recurring events and also shows reminders, it does not try to become a calendar. Guys at Things are smart and know that there are really good tools for storage and calendar. Moreover, color coding of day specific To-Do’s is extremely thoughtful and intelligent. Yellow for tasks due today and red for overdue tasks. No clutter with colors.

5. It’s on cloud, iPhone and iPad

cloudThings comes with free cloud connectivity so that your tasks are synced up on all devices. iPhone and iPad apps are equally intuitive. Just what you would need to organize your actions on the go, no fluff.

Having shared so many good qualities of Things, it does have its own limitations. For instance, when I recommended Things app to a client and they wanted Tasks to be shared across the team and Things fell short. Here are a few areas where Things leaves something to be desired:

1. Lack of task collaboration

In today’s collaborative world, assigning a To-Do to someone is unquestionable. Things does not allow To-Do’s to be shared right on its interface. You need to send them via email and there is no track of it on your To-Do list.

2. Cost

Things is pricey than most productivity apps in its category. Majority of To-Do apps have free a basic version, while Things comes with free trial and a decent price tag. It’s not a freemium product. However, the price is justified once you start using it.

3. No Goals

This is a nice to have feature and not a real  limitation. Having Projects/To-Do’s assigned to goals can make Things much more complete. Just the way Things has ‘Projects’, it would be nice if it can allow users to add goals. This is because I always like to know how I am progressing in my key goals.

4. No Windows/android/browser support

The biggest limitation of Things is its lack of cross-platform support. It’s only built for Apple. I find this very strange because not everyone is on Apple.


Apart from the above limitations, Things has nothing much to be concerned about. It is easily the best GTD app I have used so far. I am glad to be on a mac.

About Hrishikesh

Hrishikesh Jobanputra is the Author of Productive Motion.com. He helps business owners and self-starters get ahead in work and life.


  1. […] Things app is one of those well-thought softwares that balances between minimalism and features. They get GTD just right without being too complex or feature rich. One of the best aspects of Things App is the zero learning curve involved. It doesn’t overburden you with buttons, fields and too may options. I have written a detailed review of this app in a separate article. […]

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