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.
In order to keep this post reasonably short I will not explain the mechanics of setting up folders and entering data in Nozbe and Zendone. More information about those aspects can be found in my original posts:
Some of that information will have been superseded, as Nozbe is now up to version 1.8 and Zendone up to version 1.0.3 (build 611).
Let us start by describing what Nozbe and Zendone both do well:
- GTD®–compatible task and project management
- accessible browser–based application
- attractive user interface
- integration with Evernote
- calendar integration
- multiple contexts
- filtering by context
- reorder tasks using drag and drop
- capacity to convert an action into a project
- keyboard shortcuts
- mobile app for iPhone and Android
- responsive developers
- active fan base
- regular improvements
What Nozbe does particularly well:
- complements browser version with a desktop app (v. 1.8)
- native iPad app
- supports team collaboration
- superior email integration (that lets you, for example, create multiple annotated tasks from the one email)
- the introduction of a checklist option in the comment field effectively gives you subtasks
- a counter (in project, next actions and context view) shows the number of active tasks and total estimated time for that page view. This is particularly useful in the ‘next action’ view: how can you fit an estimated 14 hours of work into an eight–hour working day?
- lets you save a project as a template
- informative calendar view (further improved in v. 1.8)
- displays a list of completed projects (new in v. 1.8)
- capacity to attach files and link to Dropbox
- keeps a detailed log of changes made to tasks
- extensive training material available in five languages.
What Zendone does particularly well:
- superior Evernote integration: the importing of notes is more selective than in Nozbe. Notes in Zendone are associated with a task and can be archived in an Evernote notebook of your choice upon completion of the task. Zendone also supports ‘bi-directional editing’, which is a complex way of saying that you can edit your note in either zendone or evernote and your changes will be synced
- reliability: Zendone just ‘works’ for me—no bugs or syncing problems
- value for money: the premium version of Zendone costs $50 per year (compared to $96 for Nozbe). The free version provides full functionality but imposes limits on Evernote and calendar synchronisation.
Let us have a quick look at what Evernote integration looks like in these two apps:
The screenshot above, having been made yesterday, is from version 1.7. Version 1.8 is similar in that you can view the Evernote entry, but not move or edit it. What is new in version 1.8 is the capacity to select and display an Evernote entry in the attachments section and to create a new task with this note, as shown in the screenshot below:
The presence of a clearly visible note attached to a task can spur you into action. I often jot down some points to address in an email and before I know it I have drafted the entire reply. This has happened in both Nozbe and Zendone. Any feature that reduces the threshold between a task and its completion needs to be cherished.
While either Zendone or Nozbe will provide you with a feature–rich, viable solution, bear in mind that there are areas where other apps may deliver more features or superior functionality. Some examples from apps reviewed elsewhere on this blog:
- Omnifocus, Toodledo and GQueues allow you to schedule repeating tasks not only on the basis of a time period (‘every 3 weeks’) but also from the task’s last completion date
- Omnifocus, Toodledo, Doit, Things and FacileThings allow you to specify a task start date and to hide scheduled tasks from view until that date
- Omnifocus, Things and FacileThings let you place a project on hold
- Omnifocus handles subtasks better (multiple levels of indentation; subtasks can have notes or files attached)
- Omnifocus provides a view dedicated to the weekly GTD® review in its desktop and iPad versions. Bringing up that view shows which projects are due for their periodic review
- FacileThings, Toodledo and Doit let you define goals and track progress towards their attainment
- Pagico and IQTELL allow you to import your contacts.
Whether any of the above features is sufficient reason to explore one of those apps further will depend upon your needs and preferences.
Either Nozbe or Zendone will provide you with a solid task and project management app based on GTD® methodology. If you are thinking of a team–wide solution, Nozbe is probably the better choice because of its team collaboration functionality, its rich array of features and its capacity to upload files and link to Dropbox. Zendone, however, also appeals because of its elegance and simplicity, its superior integration with Evernote and its better value for money. Even so, while I really enjoy using Zendone, I have never embraced it as my personal task manager because of the lack of subtasks and a native iPad app. If you are a mac user looking for the ultimate productivity solution I would, at this stage, still recommend Omnifocus because of its unparalleled functionality and its excellent mobile apps.
So, Nozbe or Zendone? Do you have a preference? Tell us about it in a comment…
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.