Getting Started with Things

Things is the app for every thing you do. With it, you can organize every aspect of your life—from your daily routine to your long-term goals—and find the clarity that only comes from knowing what to do next.

We’d like to show you how to get the most out of Things. In about 10 minutes, you’ll learn the basics about how it works, as well as some simple ways to stay productive with the app.

Let’s get started!

Gather it all in one place

Each and every thing that you want to accomplish needs to end up in one place, and that place is the Inbox.

It’s fine if you haven’t yet come up with a plan for exactly how or when you’ll do these new to-dos. What’s crucial is immediately getting them off your mind and into the Inbox to revisit later. When this becomes a reflex, it’s also a lot easier to stay focused on whatever you’re doing.

Include the fun or interesting things that you’d love to do, too. If you only add your obligations, looking over your to-dos will become a chore.

Taking a second look at all of the new to-dos in your Inbox daily is an easy yet powerful habit that’ll make you feel great. As you do this, decide when you’ll start each of them.

Decide when to get started

There’s too much for you to get done in one day, but that’s no reason to stress. If you organize your to-dos with this fact in mind, you can make it easier to concentrate on doing what’s important right now.

Today is the list for to-dos that you want to start before the day ends. They’re your priorities.

Next is home for all of the to-dos you could start at any time. It’s a good place to look when putting together your Today list, or when you’ve finished everything there and you need more to do.

Scheduled is for to-dos that you’d like to start on a later date, either because there’s nothing you can do to start them yet, or you’d just rather be reminded of them on a specific day.

Someday is the place for to-dos that you might like to get to, but you’re not sure when. Regularly review what you’ve added here to decide if it’s time to act.

Do bigger things with projects

Every so often, you’ll find that something you’ve added to your Inbox will actually take more than a single step to complete. When that happens, make it a Project instead.

Like to-dos, there are almost always too many potential projects for you to work on at any given time. If you’re not totally committed to working on a project in the near future, move it to Someday. If you want to review a project to see if it’s relevant again on a later date, move it to Scheduled. If you do these things, you’ll always have a tidy, relevant list of the projects you’re devoted to right now.

Finally, if you need to get an overview of all the next actions across your current projects, you can find them listed together in Next.

Define yourself with areas

Projects and to-dos that support an ongoing ambition belong together in an Area of Responsibility.

There’s an area for every hat you wear. Stay in touch with the people you care about by creating a Family & Friends area. Remember to keep an eye on your savings for the future with a Money area. Encourage yourself to care for your body and mind by maintaining a Health area. Tame a busy class schedule with a School area. Work toward new professional heights with a Career area. When you only want to see related projects and to-dos, your areas are a great place to narrow your focus.

If you keep your areas well-stocked, they’re also a way to nurture and grow aspects of your life that are important to you. Take a good, hard look at all of them every now and then. Sometimes, all it takes are a few new to-dos to keep the fire of your long-term goal burning.

Establish your daily routine

A visit with your to-dos early in the day, every day, is the best way to set your priorities and stay on top of what matters most to you. So grab a coffee and spend a few minutes in Today – this won’t take long.

First, Things shows you what’s new for the day. Decide what you want to do today and postpone the rest for later. Visualize what you’ll get done and in what order, then arrange your to-dos accordingly.

Second, if your Today list needs a bit more substance, add some to-dos. Look over Next to get a quick overview of all of your projects and add some to-dos from there. Or, browse your areas and projects to pick some to-dos from those.

When you take a bit of time to organize your Today list, it’ll no longer seem like each day is merely something that happens to you. Interruptions won’t be so disruptive. You’ll be in control. It’s a good feeling.

A few tips before you go

The faster you can get new to-dos into your Inbox, the faster you can get back to work. For example, you can speak a new to-do to Siri. Or on your Mac, you can create a new to-do while you’re working in another app via Quick Entry.

Great titles for your to-dos make a big difference. Imagine you’re in a hurry and you create a to-do that’s simply titled Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day isn’t really something you can do. You can, however, Buy a Valentine’s Day card or Make a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day. Be crystal-clear about the real action you’re going to take, so that when you see the to-do again later you won’t have to think twice about what you meant.

If you need to shorten a long list and see only the to-dos that are relevant right this moment, use tags. Your tags should have an unambiguous purpose and you should use them frequently to filter lists and see similar to-dos. For example, Errand is one of our favorites: you can use it to filter your Next list and see everything you need to do when you’re around town.

Use due dates sparingly, and only when a to-do has a fixed deadline. If you do that, it’ll always be obvious at a glance what really requires your attention each day. If you simply want a to-do to appear in your Today list later, move it to the Scheduled list and set a date that way.

You’re ready to achieve your goals

As you start to organize your life with Things, you’ll be surprised how far you can get with these basic tips. And no matter how busy your day-to-day routine becomes, Things has you covered.

If you have further questions, you may find the answers you’re looking for in our support portal. You can also write to our experts any time.

Thanks for reading!