Staying on top of all your daily and weekly tasks can turn into a bit of a headache. For that reason, many people are turning to technology to make their lives easier. These task management apps have been dubbed “Get Things Done” (GTD) Apps.
Things 3 and Todoist are two apps in a long list of productivity apps. Organizing and managing your time means less stress and more free time at the end of the day.
But who are these productivity apps for, and which is better? In this article, we’ll look at important features from both apps and compare the programs against each other.
Various aspects will be important to compare, such as accessibility: who can use the app? We’ll also examine the pricing breakdown for each app and look at what you get for your money.
We’ll compare the design and ease of use for each program. If you’re going to rely on an app to organize your day, simplicity is key.
Lastly, we’ll look at the various features in each app; which ones are important and which ones you can do without. Lots of programs like to include features to look impressive, but they aren’t always useful to most users.
At the end of this comparison article, we’ll conclusively decide which app is best and why. So stick around until the end.
Introducing Things 3 and Todoist
Things 3 is a task management app made by the German-based software company Culture Code. It was first launched in 2007. A year later, Apple opened their App Store and Things was one of the first 500 apps available.
In the subsequent years, Things 3 has gained massively in popularity and has been download by millions of users.
The most recent version, Things 3, was released in 2017. It won the Apple Design Award that same year. In 2018, it won the MacStories Selects Award for Best App Update for its keyboard support update for the iPad.
Things 3 is designed specifically for Apple Mac and iOS devices. They recently added support for Apple Watch, meaning that their app now supports every Apple device on the market.
There is no free version of the app. Unlike most other apps, buying Things 3 is a one-time purchase, so there are no recurring costs at the end of each month. Unfortunately, you have to pay for Mac and iOS versions of the app if you want to use multiple devices.
Because of its Apple-centric design, it integrates well with other Apple and iOS features. You can import your Apple Calendar to add tasks easily. It also makes use of Apple’s cloud storage via the Things Cloud so you can access your task list anywhere.
Things Cloud also backs-up your settings so you can be sure you won’t lose all your important tasks and reminders.
Todoist was originally started as a passion project by Amir Salihefendic in 2007 while he was at university. In 2012, Todoist was launched for iOS and Android.
Todoist is now part of Doist, which is a globally-based company without headquarters. Doist also makes Twist, a team-focused communication app.
Doist prioritizes giving back to the global community. Every year, they donate a percentage of their revenue to internationally-minded charities such as The Malala Foundation and Doctors Without Borders.
Today, Todoist is available on all major operating systems. It is separated into three pricing tiers, free, premium, and business. For this article, we will only be looking at the free and premium options.
Todoist is distinct in a few ways. For one, it has priority settings for tasks, allowing you to decide how important various tasks are so you can allocate your time accordingly.
It is set up to allow multiple devices, so you can set your reminders on the web-app and get push notifications and reminders on your phone. You can also set it up to get email notifications.
Todoist isn’t only for individuals. Depending on the pricing package, you can assign multiple users to a single project. This feature is great for not just organizing your personal and professional life, but also managing team projects.
Features: Things 3 & Todoist
Choosing the right GTD app for you depends on which devices you have access to. If you’re an Apple user, you can choose between Things 3 and Todoist since they are both supported by iOS.
If you are on Apple, Things 3 has a distinct advantage over Todoist in that it works on pretty much any Apple device. You can connect it to your iPhone and iPad, and even Apple Watch. It uses Apple’s cloud storage to make backups of your system settings.
However, if you only use Windows or Android, Todoist will be your go-to as Things 3 is only available for Apple Devices.
Todoist is also made to have functionality across multiple devices, but it doesn’t have the same level of focused integration as Things. You can get push notifications on your phone and email inbox no matter your device.
In terms of accessibility, Todoist is the clear winner. It’s not limited to only Apple products so it’s applicable to a wider array of users. This also means that you can use devices across multiple platforms, so your iPhone and Windows laptop can both support the program.
Todoist is broken up into three different pricing structures: Free, Premium, and Business. The premium package is relatively inexpensive and billed annually.
If you’re only planning on using the app to organize your home life, the free bundle provides more than enough. You can give access to 5 people per project and run up to 80 projects at a time.
Upgrading to the Premium package gives you access to 300 projects with up to 25 people on each project.
One downside of the free bundle is that you do not have access to features such as reminders, labels, and filters. This makes a big difference in terms of how useful the free program is.
Things 3 requires a once-off payment for each form of the app. The version for Mac will set you back quite a bit: you could pay for around a year-and-a-half of Todoist Premium. Because it’s a one-time payment, if you use it for years it works out quite inexpensive.
If you want to use iOS devices, you have to buy another package, but it’s significantly cheaper than the Mac version.
If you don’t want to commit to a lump payment, you could give their free trial a shot. You get 15 free days to test out the app and decide if it’s for you before you buy it.
Todoist is great for having a free option available, but it does keep some vital features such as reminders and Todoist labels locked behind a paywall. Although the initial price-tag for Things might seem steep, after two years of use it works out cheaper than its competitor.
For these reasons, we think Things 3 is better value for money. Of course, if you don’t want to spend anything, Todoist is the option for you.
Ease of Use
If you want to keep yourself organized it’s important to use a productivity app that’s quick and easy to use. You need to be able to quickly add and edit tasks so that you can stay on top of your work.
Todoist lets you create tasks and assign dates easily. Created tasks appear in your inbox tab where you can make quick edits to the dates and priorities as well as leave explanatory notes for each task.
The main window shows your inbox where all updates are sorted. The ‘Today’ view will display all the tasks due on the current date. If you want to see upcoming events, there is a tab that displays all tasks due over the next 7 days.
You can also switch between different projects that have multiple tasks assigned to priorities and labels if you have the Premium Version. Todoist comes with stock projects that you can add to or you can set up your own as you need them.
Things 3 is set up similarly. It’s user experience is designed to work for you. There are separate windows for your inbox and current tasks as well as upcoming tasks over the next month. Each tab has an associated graphic so tasks are immediately identifiable at a glance.
Editing tasks on Things is a breeze. It’s well designed and simple to change dates on tasks or set them to be recurring reminders.
Power-users will figure out the keyboard shortcuts to navigate through the various tabs easily.
Because of its sleek design, we think Things 3 is the easier app to use. Cultured Code has paid a lot of attention to the way their app looks and feels and that benefits the users.
Todoist and Things 3 set up tasks in a similar way, but each app gives you different levels of control when it comes to organization. Structuring your to-do-list in a way that makes sense to you is vital when it comes to managing your time.
Todoist allows users to set priorities on individual tasks. This lets you allocate the amount of time spent on a single project appropriately.
You can also assign multiple users to a single task or project. If you’re running a house or managing a team, you can use this feature to spread the workload. Todoist Premium allows up to 25 users on a single project, but the free version gives you up to 5 people per project.
Things 3 doesn’t have the function to spread out the workload, so it’s best for individuals running a home rather than a large business.
Things allows users to set tasks to ‘Today’ or ‘This Evening.’ This is useful for breaking down your daily tasks into manageable chunks rather than one long list. Your daily tasks will be displayed alongside any events you have set in your calendar.
Additionally, rather than setting a specific time and date for a task, Things lets you assign ‘Anytime’ and ‘Someday’ tasks for the chores that don’t have a definite deadline.
Things have a checklist feature for more complex tasks. This means you can set up a task that requires multiple steps and you can check them off as you work through it. This is great for keeping track of how far you are with various tasks.
They’re structured in similar ways, but Things has the edge when it comes to organizing tasks the way you want them. Being able to divide the day into Today and This Evening is great for keeping ahead of your tasks.
Each app has a variety of features outside of the simple organization aspect. Some of these features are useful, some less so.
To keep you focussed and motivated, Todoist has a visualizer that displays the tangible progress of your work. You can set goals for yourself to stay on top of your work and complete a certain amount of tasks each day.
There is also a ‘Karma’ system’ that rewards you with points as you make your way through your to-do-list. This is a clever way of ‘gamifying’ your work to encourage you to stay focussed as you progress through levels.
Things 3 has a Progress Pie Chart that shows users the percentage of work completed. It’s similar to the visualizers in Todoist, but it’s missing that element of challenge and rewards that keeps you coming back.
Working on iPad, Things has a sidebar that you can expand or collapse if you need more space on your screen. The sidebar has all the useful features in a compact list.
Things 3 lets you open multiple windows to set up your task lists while navigating pages like your calendar and tags. It’s useful in theory but opening multiple windows can get confusing quickly making navigation a bit messy.
Todoist has more in the way of additional features. What set’s it apart is it’s natural language processing (NLP) that means you don’t need to type specifics. Aswell as the Karma System is a great idea to encourage users to stay focused on tasks as they appear and prevents them from falling behind.
There are arguments to be made for both Todoist and Things 3. They both perform well in getting things done for users looking for different utilities.
Todoist is best if you’re managing a team or organizing a household. Things is great in many ways if you’re trying to stay on top of your own work.
If you have lots of Apple devices, Things 3 is certainly worth looking at. You can give their free-trial a go if you don’t want to commit to it.
But there can only be one winner, and it’s Todoist. It’s more expensive in the long run, but the Free plan is fine if you’re a casual user.
It’s also the only app that works on all devices, not just Apple products.
Even if you choose to only use the free version, being able to assign multiple users to a project spreads out the workload to everyone you want.
For these reasons, we think Todoist is the better option for a productivity app if you’re trying to organize your home life or your team’s workload.
Mike Hostetler is an Entrepreneur & Technologist currently working to help technical teams grow and thrive. Mike formerly founded appendTo, a boutique consultancy born out of the jQuery project. He is an active OSS supporter and currently serves as CEO & Publisher of ModernWeb.com. Mike is passionate about Remote Work, the Future of Work, Leadership and helping others succeed.