asana goes from strength to strength

asana-logo

In October 2012 I first wrote about asana, praising the browser–based task management app for coming close to delivering on the developers’ vision of frictionless productivity. Since that first review, asana has gone from strength to strength, refining its user interface and adding tons of new functionality.

If you want a walkthrough of asana basics, you may want to read my earlier post first. If you are ready to explore what is new, just keep reading. Continue reading

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ten great apps for getting things done

podium2This is my second attempt at writing this post. The first time, in a quest for ‘objectivity’, I got bogged down in a treacly mix of scoring apps against criteria that were of my own choosing anyway. This time around I am opting for an unashamedly impressionistic approach: these are the task management apps I like best.

They are all compatible with David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology, capable of supporting basic to complex project management and with at least one mobile app (iPhone or iPad, ideally both). Despite meeting those criteria, Things, asana, FacileThings and several other pretty solid apps did not make the grade. Only ten apps will fit into a top–10 after all (I was reasonably good at maths at school).

My ranking is exactly that: a personal top ten, reflecting my preferences (I like a nice UI), my approach to productivity (David Allen’s GTD®), my hardware (I am a Mac user), my needs (as a sole operator I have no need for team collaboration features or enterprise–based software) and my experience (I have tested ~30 task management apps over the past two years).

Granted, my illustration is a bit of a spoiler, but please read on if you want to find out which other apps made it into my top ten. Continue reading

nozbe and zendone revisited

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Early in 2012 I reviewed Nozbe and Zendone, two browser–based task management apps that are steeped in David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology. Since that time, both apps have continued to improve. Nozbe has added new functionality and overhauled the user interface of its suite of apps. Just today they rolled out version 1.8. Zendone, which was still in beta at the time of my first review, has gone gold, produced apps for the iPhone and Android and added significant new functionality and polish to what was already an excellent tool.

Nozbe and Zendone are very similar. They are both developed by software developers with a clear commitment to GTD® and to ongoing quality improvement. They lead the field in terms of integration with Evernote. For what it is worth, I have tested 28 task management apps over the past two years and Nozbe and Zendone both figure in my virtual ‘top–five’. This is a gentle review therefore, a comparison of two very capable tools.

Continue reading

set up a ‘waiting for’ perspective in omnifocus

Your effectiveness in getting things done is not determined solely by your own productivity—it also depends on the work of others and on your ability to manage and track their contribution. Not surprising then, that David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ methodology recognises ‘waiting for’ as a distinct work ‘context’. It is used to flag tasks that you are not able to complete yourself because you lack the technical expertise, the mandate, or simply the time or the interest. Whether your project is planning your gran’s 90th birthday party or delivering a major urban renewal initiative, it is crucial that you have a clear overview of all project tasks that have been delegated to others.

So how can you achieve this in Omnifocus, the legendary desktop–based task management app for Mac? I have been using Omnifocus since 2009 and I keep finding new ways of making the app work better for me. I also know from experience that newcomers can find user–defined views, which Omnifocus calls ‘perspectives’, daunting and hard to set up. This post explains how to set up an Omnifocus perspective that enables you to keep track of the tasks that you have delegated. Continue reading

use evernote to create your ultimate packing checklist

Most of us need multiple packing checklists to cater for the different situations in which we find ourselves: a kids’ toys checklist for a beach holiday maybe and a very different one for a conference or an international flight. There are specialist apps that help you set up customised checklists, but why would you spend money and manage yet another app when Evernote already provides you with all the tools to create a packing checklist across all your devices?

In this post I want to share with you how I have set up my packing checklists in Evernote. It may not win a design award, but it is easy to set up and use, as well as totally customisable. The ingredients: simple Evernote checklists and note links that tie them all together and make it easier to navigate between individual lists. Continue reading

facile things teaches you GTD

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David Allen’s Getting Things Done® is a broad approach to personal productivity that invites you to examine your aims and objectives at a number of levels. What is your vision for your life? What sort of a person do you wish to be? What are your long term plans? What about your plans for the next three to five years? Cascading down this hierarchy of priorities will eventually lead you to the level of projects and tasks: what action do you need to take next, in the physical world, to make your vision or dreams come true?

Many productivity apps that are inspired by David Allen’s GTD® approach conveniently ignore the broader dimensions of productivity and provide a tool for dealing with the mechanics of GTD: projects, contexts, tasks and, if you are lucky, a process that supports the weekly review, a key feature of GTD®.

You will find no such reductionism in Facile Things, the brainchild of Francisco Saez, a Spanish developer. Fire up the app in your browser and it will invite you to reflect upon your purpose, vision, goals. From there flow areas of responsibility, projects and finally, actions. The various dimensions of your planning can be accessed at any time by clicking the ‘perspectives’ heading in the menu bar. Continue reading

track your time and billable hours with office time

OT logoOfficeTime is a powerful yet easy to use time tracking application. It comes in desktop versions for Windows and Mac (build 1.64—$47) and a mobile version for the iPad and the iPhone (build 3.9.6—$8.49). While OfficeTime helps you keep track of billable hours and can generate invoices, it is equally useful outside a business context. You could, for example, use it to monitor how much time you spend on volunteer or club activities, hobbies or new habits, or as a study tool. Think of it as a pedometer for the brain.

This is an independent review. I have used the OfficeTime desktop version for Mac in my home office (OS 10.8.3) to track a number of commercial and private projects. While OfficeTime has the capacity to track work and billable hours across employees and teams, I have not explored those features. Continue reading