Things 3 as a Kanban board

I’ve written from time to time about productivity on this blog. I definitely think about todo lists and productivity too much and constantly try different things. Earlier this year I went back to paper even just to keep track of all the things I need to do in a day. Well… starting a new job gave me another opportunity to evaluate how I track todos… and I’m back to using Things 3, but in a new way!

Simplicity was my first goal, I don’t want to have to keep tagging things so I simplified down to two tags, “In Progress” meaning I’m currently working on it as you’d expect and “Blocked” meaning I can’t work on it but need to keep it in focus, not just lost back to it’s project or area. This means that my today view has tasks I need to do today, but I can tag them with one of these two tags and remember where I am in the day. This benefits me personally in that I’m very visually distracted and can see another task and think “oh that’s more fun” or “oh that’s easier!”.

Simpler Tags

This has another big benefit I’ve recently learned with Things. Things allows you to create multiple windows with a different view or set of filters selected. So I can keep a window for Today, and a window for In Progress open. I actually will often have 4 windows open, one with Inbox and one with Today’s Blocked tickets.

Multiple Windows

The neat thing here is that you can actually treat this as a sort of kanban-board style columns. Dragging a task from Today (filtered to No Tags) to Today (filtered with In Progress) will apply that tag appropriately. Dragging it back to the Today (with No Tags) window or to Blocked will remove tags or add the blocked tag, respectively. This has been really fun for me and requires very little work to maintain.

Dragging to In Progress

So I’ll dedicate one space, usually on my laptop monitor (my secondary monitor) to have this “kanban” setup. Then also have an In Progress window on my main window to keep the memory alive for what I’m currently trying to do. When I’m done, I go pick another thing and move it to In Progress.

It’s not perfect, filters will often get removed if there are no tickets in the current view with that tag, so you have to occasionally reset the windows. Also dragging from Blocked to In Progress just applies both tags. Still, it’s been pretty fun to use this way, especially on top of Things really great interface with hot keys and navigation. Let me know on twitter if you’ve done anything like this or have found any other tools that helped you.