Monday, January 31, 2011

Lifehackers Top 5 To-Do List Managers

Jason Fitzpatrick has written up what to-do list managers the readers of like.

  1. Google Tasks
  2. Paper
  3. Remember The Milk
  4. Things
  5. Toodledo

I would have expected paper to be on top of the list, however google seems to be omnipresent, as ever ;)

Check out the post - there is a video and short explanation to every tool. At the end you can vote for your favourite.

Getting Things Done: Mobile vs. Desktop Tools

Kevin Purdy over at writes that the right todo manager should be very quick. That is why he suggests using a text file as a to-do list.

Web Based is Always Slower?

Even if you have high-speed internet connection, working in the browser with a web app will always come short of well programmed desktop tool.

There sure is a point to this argument. However, it seems to me, that it is a lot about getting the user experience right. Even though your web app such as rememberthemilk (which I currently use) might be slower than a desktop application, the actual user flow might be done smarter and thus quicker. For example: I use the gmail widget of rememberthemilk, which let's me add todos on the fly in a very useful context, which is open all day long anyway: reading my emails.

faster input with rememberthemilk gmail widget

What about Mobile?

Another thing Purdy is not happy with is the speed on mobile devices.

I have tried several tools for capturing my tasks and todos and come to love the note taking android app It is free and the guys have put a lot of thought into the mobile interface. capturing notes todos tasks online and web

It is actually so fast that I use it for every mental note these days: One click to open, input with tag-capabilities, one click to save. Done.

And reviewing your notes in the browser is almost as easy. Due to a very clean and reduced interface.

Simple Setup, Availability and Backups

Purdy suggest todo.txt as his tool of choice. It works as a pimped-up text file with dropbox synchronisation (for more details check out his post).

I actually very much understand the idea of availability and backups as a reason to use a text file:

  • it is always available
  • it will never be out of date
  • you don't need support
  • choosing a reliable, long-lasting todo manager application requires a lot of trust in the company that builds and runs it
  • you decide on your backup strategy
  • it is free

However, I see some disadvantages:

  • setup is not faster: the whole idea behind web apps is to get rid of installation, syncing, back-ups and so forth
  • web apps are accessible from any browser on any machine with internet access and mobile devices
  • there is no possibility of interaction with co-workers, family or friends when working on your todo lists (assigning tasks, delegation, and so forth)
  • no visualization: in a well designed application the design actually helps you get things done. Through colors, shapes, graphic elements. A text file is just plain text with maybe some special characters.

Wrapping it up: Do the Right Thing!

I am not saying that a text file cannot be a great tool to some extent.

It always depends on your needs, your work flow and in the end discipline to use the tool. However, if done right, a web app can be a great tool to manage your todos, actually get things done and thus make you more productive.

So, what works for you? What kind of tools do you use? Feel free to share your experiences!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Illustration: Bermuda Triangle of Productivity

illustration: bermuda triangle of productivity

If you want to get things done you should definitely try to avoid this area :)


Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Things Done: Don't Forget to Ask What! - The only thing I plan to accomplish at work today is to turn a gallon of coffee into gallon of piss.

Review TodoTweet - Todo Management for Twitter: Fast and Social

If you are a high volume twitter user - todotweet might just be the right tool to manage your todos.

It will integrate easily into your daily routine.  Simply add the #todo hashtag to any of your tweets and todotweet imports this post as a task. Which you than check as done within the app.

All in all it has a very limited feature set. However the idea behind it is simple and compelling.

todotweet todo and task management tool integrates into twitter

Feature Set: Concentrating on the flow

  • twitter integration
  • tasks and their properties
    • due now vs. someday
    • privat vs. public (published on twitter)
    • assigned (not clear, how this works)
  • task overview
    • simple list
    • display by todo properties (private, due now, assignement, tags) and search box#

This is it - no more features needed. Todotweet definitely concentrates on a simple integration into twitter and a useful user flow for creating tasks.

If you are looking for team assignments, commenting, due dates, microblogging, email notifications and so forth probably bantam or mangotasks might be more suitable for you.

Feature rating: 2/5

Design and usability: No Tasks Editing

The overall design is aesthetically pleasing however lacks some core functionality such as editing the tasks or their properties.

Also the lack of a help or support section can be rather frustrating, when trying to figure out the functionality.

From a flow perspective though the tools definitely helps you stay on top of your todos because it uses a daily routine of yours to capture your tasks: twitter posts. Even though I doubt, that a lot of people want their followers seeing all the stuff they have to do, it is an interesting attempt to help people get things done. Also the fact that your tasks become social and you commit to them this way even more.

Due to the fact that there is almost no interaction within the application itself, there cannot be said much about perfermance and speed.

Design rating: 2/5

Price: Free for a Reason

Todotweet is free and due to the limited feature set I cannot imagine a whole lot of people spending significant money on such a tool.

Price: 4/5

Overall Impression: Potential for more

Integrating your todo management into daily routines such as tweeting is nice move. However, the overall lack of todo management features such as due dates, assignements, task editing do not make todotweet a real contender.

Overall rating: 2/5

Checkout the presentation video of todotweet for an overall impression of the todo manager: