My Tryst With Things & Return to TaskPaper

My Tryst with Things1 — while torrid and passionate — quickly came to an inevitable end. Seems as though there's no love like the first and therefore I find myself back in the warm and comforting embrace of TaskPaper. Confused? Let me elucidate you then...

Some History

In the final few months of 2013 I felt I needed a little something more for my task management system. It was one of those typical "It's not you, it's me" kind of things. It wasn't that what I used didn't work, I just wanted something new and shiny to tinker with.

At the time, I looked at various options, discarded a few due to their elevated price points and others because of their lack of a decent cross-platform option. Finally I settled on Things.

It was rife with promise. Not only did it look good, but I could schedule tasks, add repeating tasks, set start and due dates and it was available on both OS X and iOS. I was happy — at least for a short while.

However, no sooner did I find my stride than Things' shortcomings reared their head. The limited or altogether nonexistent notifications on iOS and OS X respectively, meant that time critical tasks were once again delegated to Due2. Despite the existence of a notes field in Things, I pined for the flexibility my Extended Notes afforded me. I also soon discovered that I missed the simplicity and flexibility of plain text as well as the small workflows I had developed over time.

Now What

If you harbour any doubts about the merits and versatility of a plain text task list, then I highly recommend you read part one of Gabe Weatherhead's TaskPaper R&D notes.

I get paid to manage large, multi-year, technical projects. I track hundreds of individual tasks over 18-25 month spans.

If plain text is good enough for Gabe, I think my humbler task management needs can be met too.

Now that my fleeting experiment with Things has run it's course, what does this mean for you my dear reader? Well probably nothing at all — that is unless you use one of my workflows or extensions aimed at TaskPaper. As you may have guessed from my recent release of a MailMate plugin for TaskPaper, I'm back on the bandwagon. I'll be redoing and improving existing extensions or workflows and adding a few more to my bag of tricks.

I'm also happy to report that I and a few others are collaborating with Gabe in an effort to extend TaskPaper tools and utilities. I highly recommend you read Part 2 of Gabe's TaskPaper R&D Notes where he not only goes into great detail about existing tools as well as broaches the subject of this collaboration.

Currently, both Phillip Gruneich3 and I have already started work on a Pythonista4 script to mark tasks @done based on the state of their parent/sub-tasks. This of course is just the beginning. Phillip I'll also be updating the site to make these scripts and extensions more easily accessible.


  1. Mac | iPhone | iPad 

  2. Mac | iOS 

  3. Phillip also has a few great workflows for TaskPaper and iOS. Check them out

  4. This is also being ported to Editorial.