If there’s one thing I can’t do without, it’s my to-do list.
This is for one very simple reason: I am possibly the most forgetful person on this planet.
For instance, I regularly put things by the front door in a bid to ensure they travel with me when I later head out.
I always forget them.
This occasionally results in an incredibly frustrating situation (usually for someone else). But, more often than not, it’s just a slight inconvenience. No big deal.
The same can’t be said for my business tasks. Forget one of those, and the results could be pretty disastrous. It’s why my to-do list app is among the first installed on any new device.
Last week, I did something I never thought I’d do. I uninstalled Things from my iPhone, iPads, and multiple Macs.
Why I’ve switched
This year, I’ve promised myself and my audience that I’ll broaden my horizons when it comes to tech. I want to peer over the walled Apple garden and get a sniff of what other people are using.
What are Windows laptops really like? Is Android ever going to drag me away from iOS?
This means I’m living a more cross-platform life than ever before. For instance, over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been carrying around both an iPhone and an Android phone, and I’m still forcing myself to use the Lenovo Yoga Mat Slim Carbon 7 (or whatever it’s called).
I’m enjoying this strategy immensely, but it does present three challenges when it comes to the apps I use:
- I still can’t find a decent writing app for Windows;
- I’m not sure what to do about my calendar (more on that in the future); and
- I’ve accidentally gone all-in on Apple with my to-do list.
Let’s focus on the latter.
I don’t use Apple’s Reminders app for to-do list management. Instead, I’ve been using something called Things, which is one of the most considerately designed and functional pieces of software I’ve ever come across.
The problem? It’s only available on Apple devices. And that means as soon as I switch to an Android phone or Windows laptop, I lose my to-do list.
That doesn’t fly, I’m afraid. Particularly now I’m all cross-platform and whatnot.
So, I had to find an alternative.
What I love about TickTick
There are about 45,109,419 to-do list apps to choose from. And if you think I’m over exaggerating, have a quick search on your platform of choice.
I’ve tried lots of them, but there’s one that’s caught my eye a number of times.
TickTick is superstar YouTubist, MKBHD’s, to-do list app of choice. Indeed, the only time I’ve ever spotted it outside of app search results is on his phone during a review or rundown of his most-used apps.
So, if it’s good enough for Marques, it must be alright. Plus, it’s cross-platform and looks remarkably similar to Things (more on that later).
It’s not particularly expensive, either. At $27.99 per year, TickTick is a bit of a no-brainer, given how functional it is.
Honestly, providing you’re not looking for Omnifocus levels of GTD functionality, TickTick does it all. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve noted down as being particularly useful during my first week with it:
- plentiful task management, organisation, and filtering;
- the fully-featured web version;
- sub-tasks that are as functional as main tasks;
- a great calendar view;
- predictive task entry (just like Fantastical);
- task templates;
- the ability to add notes as separate database entries;
- proper attachments (and not just links to file locations);
- the ‘completed’ view on the daily task view; and
- a useful Safari extension.
There’s so much more to TickTick than the above, but it does that wonderful thing of allowing you to use as much of the app as you need without being distracted by the more fancy stuff.
The switch from Things to TickTick has been pretty seamless for me, and, crucially, it hasn’t halted my daily progress.
But it isn’t all roses.
What I don’t love about TickTick
There aren’t really any feature deficits for me between TickTick and Things. Indeed, the former is actually more functional than the latter, and there are a number of features within that list above that I’ve long wanted in Things (not to mention the ability to complete a future task in advance – come on, Cultured Code!).
However, I can’t escape one obvious caveat of switching from Things to TickTick, which is that the latter feels rather more cluttered.
This is arguably a result of the deeper feature set and a desire to present as much information to the user as possible, but it will cause issues for anyone who loves Things for its design.
Things stands above its competition almost solely because of its no-nonsense yet beautiful approach to user interface design. There’s plenty of white space, and the purpose of every available pixel has been carefully considered. It feels clean, inspiring, and a joy to use.
By comparison, there’s an awful lot going on when you make your way around the TickTick user interface. When viewed side-by-side, the two apps look remarkably similar, but TickTick attempts to cram too much text and rather old-fashioned iconography into its slender frame.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, and I’m slowly getting used to TickTick’s UI. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t yearn for some of Things’ simplicity.
So, Things or Tick Tick?
This is a tricky one to conclude because if I wasn’t reviewing other non-Apple products and instead remained firmly in Apple Land, I’d never have switched from Things.
My advice, therefore, is pretty simple. If you’re an Apple ecosystem person, get yourself Things. It is, without question, the most obvious take on to-do list management for anyone who doesn’t want to get bogged down with the intricacies of the GTD philosophy.
If you’re cross-platform like me or rest solely within a non-Apple platform, TickTick offers just enough functionality over the likes of Todoist to make it a really decent investment in your productivity.
Really interesting comparison between the two. Heard a lot of praise for Things but as a cross-platform user, (iOS mobile and tablet but Windows for PCs and laptops), I use Todoist though I’m no power user and don’t use any complicated filters.
For Windows calendar apps, I use Morgen. Have searched for a Fantastical-like Windows app last year and love Morgen for its ability to schedule and join video conferencing calls especially with the recent updates for scheduling one-off meetings rather than your own room.
Have you tried Todoist? I think it’s available for both Android and Mac / iOS. It’s uncluttered but I’ve been able to set up a really great little system for myself with a few time based and location based tags plus everything is also nice and sorted by ‘projects’. It’s taken me next to no time in slowly getting set up with it and I’ve only recently added the tag system which has helped a lot with quick computer jobs that are 5 minutes and under. More important to me is that I haven’t LOST anything in the cracks. Work is progressing and I also know what weekend chores need to be done too. It’s worth a look.
I have indeed, but not to any great extent, as I’ve always been a bit of a Things addict. But I’m always impressed!
Nice – thanks, Louise, I’ll check out Morgen.