Using Tags to Plan my Day with Things 3

Working from home during the pandemic has unsurprisingly impacted how I do my work. Back in September I wrote about the first of those changes – namely turning on the preference to group my Today view in Things by project to feel a little less overwhelmed.

A side effect of this setting is that I could no longer manually order my tasks to reflect the order I planned to do them during the day. As I shared in that earlier post, when first made the switch, I thought I’d be fine with this tradeoff because my areas and their respective projects are ordered by priority. This meant my highest priority tasks were always at the top for me to do first thing in the morning.

In theory, this change was great for my workflow. In practice, it was less so.

Sometimes those highest priority tasks weren’t things I could do in the morning. Making a handful of phone calls while the other half is still sound asleep in the next room probably wouldn’t go over well. Similarly, if my morning was full of appointments, I probably wouldn’t have time to handle putting together a report. I also tend to work better on reports in the afternoon anyway.

At the time of making that change, I even noted that I was already finding myself jumping around in the list. Little did I know just how much jumping I would end up doing. Over time, I found myself spending a LOT of mental bandwidth simply scanning through my list multiple times a day to figure out what I could work on next.

Ordering my list manually allowed me to build out a plan for my day every morning, and I no longer had that plan.

My solution ended up being a fairly straightforward method that I adopted from my Erin Condren paper planner days. While there’s now a few different layouts, the original Erin Condren planners I used broke each day down into three blocks, Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.

Things 3 already has a This Evening section, but I’ve manually created tags for This Morning and This Afternoon. (Cultured Code, if you’re listening, an option to have a This Morning or This Afternoon section could be nice.)

On mornings where I’m feeling a little more overwhelmed, I can go through and find all the tasks in my Today view that I need and can do first thing in the morning and tag them with my morning tag and (optionally) do the same with the afternoon tag.

Once I’m done, I can filter my Today list by the This Morning tag which reduces my Today list to only tasks I can do that morning and nothing more.

I’ve been using this method for a few weeks and I’m actually really liking it.

It’s also a bit reminiscent of my days using Omnifocus’s start times which prevented things from showing up until I could truly do them. As an Omnifocus user, I loved start times. Why see a task before you can work on it?

I’ll tell you why.

I’d start my day with no clue of how many tasks were scheduled. I’d check everything off for the day and revel in the feeling that my tasks were done, not knowing another task (or tasks) had a start time later in the day.

In the worst case scenario, I wouldn’t see those tasks until the next day missing them entirely. The more common scenario was that my task list started to seem neverending – “Congratulations! You’ve done all your tasks for the day! Just kidding! Here’s another one at 9PM!”

The lack of start times in Things 3 was actually a good thing for my life, but I still did miss that ability to filter things.

Now by using tags in Things 3, I still see every task I have on my Today list at the start of the day so I know what I’m in for, but I also have the option of breaking it down further if necessary.

What’s Wrong with Erin?

I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner for the second time this year, and let me say I adore it. It screams everything Andrea. I mean it even matches my room! There’s just that something about it that I’m not liking, and for the longest time, I really had no idea what it was. I think now I’m finally starting to put things together and figure it out, and it really has NOTHING to do with the planner.

So what’s wrong with it if it’s not the planner?

Years ago when I was browsing Flickr, I stumbled on some Moleskines which led me to Filofaxes which led me to Philofaxy, and then I found all the people in the community. I fell in love with the blogs, the videos, the pictures, everything. Now I’m always reading up on the latest Filofax gossip. It’s fun to see how the community’s grown and evolved over time. With every new person, we get new ideas and things like washi tape or Martha Stewart dew drops go viral and then you see them in everyone’s planners.

That’s when I started to realize something in the back of my crazy mind has always been screaming Filofax even when I’ve had a different planner, and I think that thing has been the community.

Erin Condren’s Life Planner definitely has a following online. I’d say to some extent it has a bit of a cult status in the blogging world, but what it doesn’t have is a community of people that are constantly sharing updates and stories about them like Filofax does. That’s what brings me back to Filofax every single time. And, hey, maybe that’s weird to some people, but we’re all weird in our own ways. My way happens to be planners and stationary. Whether I use what I buy or not, I like having it. I like reading about it. I like looking at it.

So while I tried to jump into my Erin Condren planner whole heartedly, I had this nagging thought always screaming “But what about Filofax?!” Maybe I should have watched a ton of Life Planner videos instead of Filofax ones, who knows, but as usual Filofax won me over. And of course, as we all know, how can you resist buying a new Filofax?!

I certainly couldn’t, and so my next post will be about my latest addition to the family.Signature

Current State of Planning


Since many of you have found me through Angela of PaperLovestory’s My Week posts or Philofaxy’s Web Finds, if you’re still here, you’ve likely noticed a major lack of anything Filofax related, so what’s going on?

{Be prepared for a picture heavy post.}

A couple of months ago I mentioned that right after posting about how I got out of planner fail, I started to think I jynxed myself. Well today, I’m here to say, I did. I’m sure if I took my own advice in that post about planner fail, I probably wouldn’t be in planner fail, but for the life of me I couldn’t even get myself to open my Filofax for like the past few months. The only reason I’ve opened it recently has been to retrieve store credit cards. Thankfully, life hasn’t been too chaotic, but towards the end of this past semester, I felt like I was all over the place, and not having a planner certainly didn’t help.

I’d imagine many of you can relate that planner fail makes us go crazy {if we aren’t already}, and my wallet is certainly not appreciating it now, but here’s what’s been happening.


My first attempt to avoid planner fail was washi tape. {Over $50 worth to be exact.} I see everyone’s pretty pages, and then there’s mine, so plain and boring. I put a sticker or two on a page to make it cute, but it ends up looking stupid instead. I really tried with the washi tape, and my weekly pages were cute, don’t get me wrong. I loved creating and seeing every one of them, but it just took way too much of my time, and I just didn’t keep up with it.



Around the same time I ordered the washi tape, I also preordered a Day Designer from Whitney English. This thing was pricey, so I had high hopes for it. It’s a monthly/daily planner with pages to really iron out your goals. I finally got it at the end of May, just in time for it to start in June. The daily pages have plenty of room to right down your schedule, your to-dos, dinners, expenses, due dates, reminders, and most important tasks. In theory it should have worked out fantastically, but it didn’t. I opened it up, wrote down the first couple days worth of tasks {only to realize I wrote them all down on the wrong week! – ultimate way to ruin that “brand-new notebook” high.} and never opened it again. From a product standpoint, it’s an outstanding planner quality-wise, and if you’re an entrepreneur with “clients”, I assume the planning pages at the beginning really would help you put things together. For my lifestyle though, it wasn’t much help. There were a couple downsides to consider aside from just the price though. It doesn’t play well with Frixion pens, and I’d assume any type of erasable writing instrument. The lines on the page started to smear, and the ink came off totally when I tried to reposition washi tape. I also wish it had tabs on the months as this is quite a large planner and there’s no way to locate where you are.

Anyway enough rambling. So I had two planners, neither of which I wanted to use. The obvious solution was to buy a third!


I caved and bought a new Erin Condren planner! I bought one 2 years ago and loved the fun colors {instant cuteness rather than spending time with washi-tape}. Sadly three weeks into using it, I sort of ruined a lot of the pages by sweeping snow off my car right into my purse all over my planner. {Note to self: put purse in car before brushing the car off, and ALWAYS close your planner, don’t leave it folded open to the current week in your bag.} With the wrinkly pages and struggling to make the layout fit my lifestyle, I gave up on it for a while. I was actually using my A5 Malden successfully for a while so I didn’t repurchase one for 2012.



Since my last Erin Condren planner, a lot of things have changed. I love the month on 2 page spread, and from knowing how badly the plain cardstock tabs held up, I’m glad they decided to laminate them. Tweaks in this year’s layout with the lines for random tracking at the bottom and goals on each week are nice as well. Overall, the quality of this planner has only gone up, and this year I actually felt the price was more justified than it was two years ago. I also splurged for some elastic bands to hold the book closed, pens, extra stickers, and a pen loop. I hacked mine a bit too. I took apart my old Erin Condren planner and added the pocket, left over stickers and folder to my new planner. I had initially planned on taking apart my new one to add everything, but the new metal spiral is a lot stronger than the plastic and I didn’t want to damage the pages. I trimmed down the sticker pages and stuck them in a folder pocket, and just snipped a slot into each of the tiny holes on the folder and pocket. Now I have an extra removable folder and pocket in my planner which is a little nicer in my opinion because I can move them around.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m seriously excited to be finally using my planner today. So much space, and it’s going to match my room once it’s all done!