Improving my Weekly Planning with Things 3

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how I’ve been looking for ways to add more structure to my weeks after finding that switching back and forth between working from home and working in the office was throwing my productivity out of wack.

I’ve spent the last month or so soaking in all the advice I could find online in terms of weekly planning. Special thanks goes out to Peter Akkies and michelleb who I found particularly inspiring during my search.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to the Cultured Code team. I didn’t know it at the time, but what they had in the works for their iPadOS 15 update turned out to be a huge help as well.

So what’s changed with how I’m planning out my tasks?

First things first, let’s talk about what Cultured Code added to Things 3 in their iOS 15 update – namely the extra large “Up Next” widget. This widget shows your to-dos for Today, Tomorrow, and the two days after that. This was actually something I had tried to create on my own in just about every productivity tool (TeuxDeux, Trello, AirTable, Notion, etc) but abandoned because it felt like I was wasting time duplicating content that was already in Things 3. Now that it’s built into Things 3, problem solved.

I’d honestly prefer to see a full week (XXL widgets in iOS 16 maybe?), but three days has worked just fine. Seeing my tasks in listed out for the next few days horizontally makes it easy to see days when I’m overcommitted or, on the rare occasion, not committed enough so that I can go into Things 3 and reschedule some things.

Seeing what’s on my plate this way has led to some other changes in how I approach my planning as well.

I no longer try to schedule additional tasks more than one day ahead. I found that scheduling tasks out for the entire week rarely worked for me. I’m much more likely to accomplish what I set out to do if I plan the night before.

When I am planning out my day the night before, I try not to schedule more than 3 additional (not scheduled/routine) tasks from Anytime for the next day. Three feels like the right number in terms of feeling like I’m making progress without feeling like I’m waking up to a daunting to do list.

I also have a repeating project called “Priorities for the Week” that I use to set three priorities for the upcoming week during my weekly reviews. The priorities I list in this project are tasks that link to other projects or tasks in Things. For instance, one of my priorities for this week, is to finish this blog post, so I have that listed in my priorities project, and the task itself links to the corresponding “Post to Blog” project to make it easy to check off both I do post this blog post, and the priorities project itself is set to start every week on Monday where it then stays in my Today view until I check everything off.

I’ve nested this project within a new area, Goals, which lives at the very top of my areas list so that Priorities for the Week shows up at the top of Today. The goals area also has a project for this year’s goals so I can clearly keep track of them, and I’ve already started on planning 2022’s goals in their own project as well.

Having been using these methods for the past several weeks, I can confidently say they have helped me feel like I’m actually making progress on my goals rather than responding to whatever comes my way.

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