Creating a Burner List in Things

Published January 2nd, 2020 2m read time

Howdy yo! Happy New Year everyone! It's time for resolutions and all that jazz, so here's a little productivity thing I've been doing lately. I've been a huge proponent of Getting Things Done for a long time. I used OmniFocus for years to manage my tasks, but in 2019, I switched back to Things. I also read Make Time, which led me to the idea of the Burner List.

The Burner List is essentially a way to focus on 1–2 projects per day, with space for incidentals that pop up along the way. You have a front burner for your main project, a back burner for another less important project, and then a kitchen sink to hold all the other shit you need to get done. Jake Knapp's original blog post outlined a paper-based way of doing this, but I wanted to do it with Things.

Simply put, I use Things' tags and Today list to keep these organized. Each morning, I go to the Today list, and I assign Front Burner, Back Burner, and Kitchen Sink tags to everything I want to get done that day. Sadly, Things doesn't allow for sorting by tag, so you're on your own if you want to put them in order. I find filtering by tag to be okay.

Things Today list on macOS

One issue I ran into was that those tags would stick with my tasks the following day, which wasn't always what I wanted. I whipped up a little AppleScript (JXA-syntax) to help clear them out each morning. I run the following script each morning using a launch daemon.

var app = Application('Things3')
var todos = app.lists.whose({name: "Today"}).toDos()[0]
var tagsToRemove = ["Kitchen Sink", "Front Burner", "Back Burner"]

todos.forEach(todo => {
	var tags = todos[0].tagNames().split(', ')
	todo.tagNames = tags.filter(tag => !tagsToRemove.includes(tag)).join(", ")
})

So, if you're looking to simplify your task wrangling, the Burner List is a straight-forward way of doing so. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any comments or questions.