The thing about tools

I make lists for just about everything, from the week ahead at work to the books I want to read next.

Lists are how I remember the small things and prioritize the big things. For over eight years, those lists have been kept in Things from Cultured Code.

I've used Things longer than any other app. The UI is simple and efficient, with thoughtful touches throughout. I'd be surprised if I've encountered more than two bugs altogether. Most importantly, the data syncing and integrity has been flawless. When you're storing years of ideas, notes, and tasks in one place, you have to be able to trust it. I rely on Things every single day.

Flawless isn't easy, though. Cultured Code is notorious for shipping only when it's ready, which mean long breaks between major versions. The long-awaited Things 3 debuts Thursday after being announced in December.

December 2013.

Many people have stopped using Things due to the lack of major updates and they often write about it. I've rarely seen someone mention a significant bug that hasn't been fixed or essential features that are missing. Mostly, people are frustrated at waiting so long for something new.

To be clear, the app has never been stagnant. Improvements are delivered regularly, including support for new OS features and Apple Watch. I, too, would hesitate to continue using an essential app that was no longer supported.

Sometimes, though, we demand change because we want the distractions that come with it. It's fun to tinker with new features and complain about what's wrong with them. I'm as eager as anyone for a new version of Things, but while waiting for Things 3, I've never once opened the app and not been able to do what it's designed to do.

In other words, Things lets me focus on being productive instead of my productivity tool.

We have to try out new apps and new versions of old ones, of course. Who knows when you might stumble upon a clever idea that helps you squeeze more out of your day or the app that you'll use for the next eight years. I'm going to greatly enjoy exploring Things 3 this week.

Then, I hope I forget about it again for a few years.

Uncommon reads

I or She: Re-reading Hardwick, Adler, and Didion by Stephanie Danler:

Books don’t change but they can measure the ways in which you have.

News and such

I recently had the privilege of writing an essay entitled Uniquely Yours for Offscreen, a gorgeous print magazine that explores opinions and ideas about technology and the web. It's a truly uncommon project that shares many of the values we hold dear in our community. From the About page:

As the name suggests, Offscreen is a magazine that explores what happens off the screen, outside our digital world. We encourage you to put down your device, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a high-quality read the old-fashioned way. Reading it offline in a distraction-free environment allows us to step away from the fast-paced world of bits and pixels to reflect on our industry and the impact we can make.

Offscreen is a counterbalance to the endless stream of buzzword-heavy tech coverage focusing on The Next Big Thing. We are a proponent of The Slow Web, the idea that not all that is instant and fast is necessarily good for us. Our editorial approach is guided by ethical and inclusive principles highlighting stories and ideas that put impact and purpose before growth and profit.

Many of you know this as subscribers and contributors to the magazine. Offscreen's founder, Kai Brach, has created something quite special. I highly recommend subscribing.

Your turn

What tool (digital or physical) have you used the longest?