Things: Repeating Projects!

Things - Repeating Projects

Browsing the Cultured Code support pages, I stumbled onto this gem, “Creating Repeating To-Dos“:

If you have an entire set of to-dos which need to be repeated on the same day, group them inside a project and then repeat that entire project.

Regarding project templates, I shared this idea:

Important weekly/monthly checklists

I grouped recurring (predefined) to-dos by adding repeating projects. This allows me to:

  • Focus on doing work.
  • Keep the Logbook “clean” going forward, and
  • Save time from manually copying the to-dos.

David Allen might not condone having the Today focus overflowing with to-dos and projects because some of the items don’t need to be completed that day. However, I know I have the freedom to reschedule or delete items for another day.

(By the way, the Logbook displays all to-dos and projects marked as completed or canceled, regardless of importance or length of time to completion. The repeating projects I share in the above screenshot image—and list below—aren’t that notable.)

If I see a long list of to-dos in the Logbook, where many took 5–10 minutes to complete1, and the large remaining chunk of time is dedicated for the main part of my job, it can be more difficult to identify the higher impact projects or to-dos2.

Here are my current ones:

  • Work (Weekdays) — Triage a few ticket queues.
  • Work (Weekdays) — Work in our regular ticket queues.
  • Home (Monthly, three days before the last day of the month) — Prepare and mail our rent check.

As an example, our landlord requests a mailed check for our rent payment (project3 and successful outcome). Here are the to-dos needed to mark this project as completed:

  • Write rent check.
  • Print USPS label.
  • Mail rent check.

I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share them in the comments, or publish a new post on your own blog, and link back to this one. 🙂


  1. Examples of minor to-dos at work: catch up on reading P2 threads, or watching new intro videos. 
  2.  Writing this post, I realize I can make this easier by adding a tag to filter the Logbook. It’s exactly what I did to single out the three repeating projects in the image. 
  3. If you’re using a task manager with tasks and subtasks, the main task would be “Mail rent check”, and the two subtasks would be (1) write rent check, and (2) print USPS label. The subtasks would need to be completed before the main task. 

Things: Project templates!

Cultured Code released Things Cloud “Nimbus” a couple of days ago. I found myself skimming their Twitter feed and saw:

Mac: While viewing the Projects focus (⌘+5) — i.e. you aren’t viewing the details and To Do items within a project — select the project you’d like to copy, then press ⌘+D (Duplicate) to create an identical copy of the project.

(You can also duplicate To Do items.)

860f9836-7a31-11e4-8c6a-9ac8cd0cdcb1

Despite not having read the Project Templates support page from Basecamp Help, I recently learned that I could create project templates in Basecamp—which include To Do lists—and longed for similar functionality in Things.

I…think they had it all along. 🙂

It should be listed on the keyboard shortcuts page (required reading for all Things for Mac users striving to be super efficient).

Here are some project template ideas:

  • Packing list
  • Important weekly/monthly checklists
  • Irregular projects (new clients, employees, taxes)

How would I create, organize, and save the project templates for future use?

Initial setup will take less than a minute:

  1. Open the Tags window (⇧⌘+T), and create a tag named Template for the project.
  2. Click the blank area—in the row of the tag—furthest to the right, which will display a text area with a blinking cursor. Choose a letter to be used for a keyboard shortcut for the tag, like “T”.

Goal thus far — When viewing the Project focus (⌘+5), find your project templates quickly by pressing Ctrl and the letter you chose in step 2 earlier. (e.g. Ctrl+T)

Create a project template:

  1. Create a new project, which will be your template.
  2. Add your desired project tags, notes, and To Do items.
  3. Navigate to the Project focus (⌘+5), press the keyboard shortcut you’ve chosen for the Template tag (Ctrl+T, for this example), then move the project to the Someday focus (⌘+Y) to hide it from your Active Projects list in the sidebar. Once you’ve created several project templates, you can use the up (↑) and down (↓) arrow keys to select a project.
  4. Optional: While viewing the Project focus (⌘+5), select the newly-created project template, and File (⇧⌘+F) the project in the correct Area.
  5. Repeat steps 1–4 for additional project templates, as needed.

Now, you’re a few keyboard shortcuts away from creating a new project from one of your templates. By few, I literally mean:

  1. (⌘+5) Navigate to the Project focus.
  2. (Ctrl+T) View all projects with the Template tag.
  3. (↓ or ↓) Navigate to your desired Project item.
  4. (⌘+D) Duplicate the project template.
  5. (⏎) Open the duplicated project, remove the Template tag.
  6. Edit the project to be specific to the scenario (a.k.a. profit).