Using tags in Things

Thomas Schoffelen
3 min readJul 20, 2021

Tags in the task manager app Things seem very minimal and simplistic at first sight because of the minimalist UI, but there are a lot of handy ways to apply them to better manage your tasks and schedule your days.

Here are some of the ways in which I apply them to my personal to-do list.

Time Estimations

One of my main uses for tags is to set time estimations for tasks. I do this by having tags like 10min, 20min, 30min, etc.

These tags all have corresponding shortcuts set, so that I can simply mark a task as a 10-minute task by pressing Ctrl + 1.

Grouping them together under a tag called Time makes it easy to filter based on task duration in views like Today and Upcoming.

Adding time estimates is also a great way to see if any tasks need to be split up more to be actionable. If I estimate a task to take an hour or longer, I usually tend to try to split it up into individual tasks to make sure I’ll actually get to it.

People

I also tend to have tags for names of the people I work with often, so that I can search by name (simply start typing anywhere in Things!) and see tasks that:

  • Specific people are waiting for me to complete
  • I need assets or information from other people for
  • Calls I need to make or emails I need to send to a person

Again, grouping these names all under a tag named People will make it easier to quickly see all of the tasks that require interaction with others.

Activity Types

At certain moments I’m more in the mood for doing some writing, or development work, or design, or sending emails. I have tags for each of these activity types, as well as shortcuts for the most common ones:

  • Ctrl + w: write
  • Ctrl + r: read

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Thomas Schoffelen

Entrepreneur tech kid, co-founder of NearSt, Londoner, open source enthusiast and aspiring spare time literature geek.