Alfred 2.7.2, snippets, and Quick Entry for Things

When using Alfred’s clipboard and snippet viewer with the Quick Entry window for Things, the item would paste into the previously active window, not the Quick Entry window.

I use Alfred snippets1 or several items of text in clipboard history when entering new to-dos into Things, and have been annoyed for awhile because I couldn’t do the same with the Quick Entry window.

Today, I’m stoked to see that Andrew and Vero fixed it. Thank you! ⭐

I think one—or both—of the first two items from the Alfred Change Log for 2.7.2 addressed this issue:

  • Significantly improve Alfred’s focusing behaviour, not taking active from the currently focused app. This improves a number of things including clipboard history paste behaviour with a multi screen setup.
  • Bring the Alfred window forward in the window hierarchy

  1. Specifically, timestamps. It’s a worthwhile habit to note when you added a to-do, or track how long it took you to complete a to-do. See also: Using Dynamic Placeholders in Clipboard Snippets

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.)

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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).

Rad action for Drafts: Multiple Things

A few months ago, Ben Whiting shared an action he created for Drafts: Multiple “Things”.

When using Things for iPhone v2.6.3, you can’t add multiple to-dos in rapid succession by pressing Enter after each to-do. This action is a fantastic workaround.

Feature idea for Cultured Code: Copy Drafts’ implementation of their New Draft button (tap and hold) to the New To-Do button. i.e. Add multiple to-dos:

  • Without tags to keep it simple.
  • Within a list, area, or project.
  • Within a new project.

Please and thank you. 😛

How Things makes me even more awesome

Things 2 screenshotAround nine months ago, Isaac Keyet persuaded me to try Things for Mac by Cultured Code. I usually prefer plain text, but that’s too simple for the stuff I jot down.

With keyboard shortcuts galore, I quickly fell in love with this app. It costs $49.99 for Mac, $9.99 for iPhone, and $19.99 for iPad — and it’s worth every penny. I’ll explain how I manage tasks with Things.

At work

At Automattic, we communicate internally through IRC, private P2–themed sites, and Skype. However, I do receive email notifications regularly because it helps with my workflow.

At the beginning and end of each shift, my routine consists of processing my email (new post or comment notifications), and reviewing IRC or Skype messages I missed when I was offline. I skim messages, open batches of five to ten browser tabs, and delete the corresponding emails.

When I come across a post that requires more digging (i.e. longer than a minute), I press Control–Option–Space bar to use Quick Entry, which automatically inserts a link in the notes. That item gets saved to Things. (Inbox, by default.)

Without moving my hands from the keyboard, I can enter a title and tags for the item. When I’m done, pressing Return saves the item in Things and the Quick Entry window disappears, leaving me where I left off.

If there’s a block of text that’s perfect for the notes, highlighting it before pressing the Quick Entry with Autofill keyboard shortcut adds it to the notes after the link.

I also sort my Inbox items into Next or Scheduled after processing email. (This might be against GTD methodology, but I equate the Scheduled focus to my digital tickler file.)

If I have an idea that isn’t linked to a webpage or email, or if someone pings me and I can’t get to them right away, I can press the Quick Entry keyboard shortcut (Control–Space bar) and jot it down in seconds.

It’s exhilarating to know that I’m not missing anything as long as it’s in Things (or my calendar, of course).

Pro tip: Read through the keyboard shortcuts a few times, or print it as a reminder. I’ve been using my trackpad too much.

Not at “work”

Away from my desk, I can write new items or ideas quickly with Things for iPhone. I add items from the Things home screen, saving to the Inbox by default.

When I get home, I add additional context (tags, notes). If I’m browsing a site or Twitter, and something piques my interest, I’ll take the extra few seconds to copy the URL in my clipboard to paste in the item notes.

I used their mobile app with local sync via Wi-Fi (before cloud sync), and I think it’s superb now that cloud sync works perfectly.

Wading through tasks

I’m infatuated with tags, making sure I assign the correct one for each item. By doing this, my Next screen is super focused, allowing me to ignore stuff I can’t handle at the moment. Here are a few examples:

  • At work, my Automattic tag allows me to ignore errands and tasks I need to do at home. (Tag management side note: computer is a parent tag, while Automattic is a child tag since I’m in front of a computer when working.)
  • My home tag removes items I need to do at home and away from a computer.
  • My errand tag focuses my view to tasks when I’m out and about.

Relevancy

This process allows me to batch tasks. I’m not constantly changing gears between P2s, Trac, updating support pages, helping people using WordPress.com through email/forums, processing photos, or writing posts (like this one).

I’m also not worried about forgetting the context of an item. I add just enough notes to describe what needs to be done.

Conclusion

If you work on a Mac every day, you should check out the 15–day free trial. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.

Thank you, Things, for keeping me sane. 🙂