what do you want from a to-do app?

Fools rush in, they say, where angels fear to tread. I thought I would create a diagram, using XMind, a free mind-mapping program, to ‘shortlist’ selected task management programs from a couple of user perspectives.

There are no winners: most of the listed apps have the capacity to boost your productivity enormously. Choosing a productivity app is largely a matter of personal preference – you have to feel comfortable with how data are entered, with the views on offer, with the workflow and the colour scheme. Some of that takes time; an app that dazzles you in the first week may feel suffocating and uninformative once it needs to handle a couple of hundred tasks.

You can question many aspects of my diagram. For example, most of the listed apps support various degrees of customisation; I have only listed omnifocus, gqueues and toodledo as being extraordinarily versatile in that area. For ‘bug free’ I have set the bar equally high.

There are also gaps in my diagram. I have not included apps that I have never explored (call me traditional), nor apps that are primarily geared towards note taking (such as evernote, that swiss army knife of productivity) or team collaboration (such as basecamp or flow). I have not included other parameters, such as whether file attachments are supported. There is only so much that will fit on a page.

My aim in posting this is not to provide complete or authoritative advice, but to provide a couple of pointers for people who are trying to find a task management app that may work for them. I would appreciate constructive feedback!

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eloping with firetask

Firetask is a promising GTD-based productivity app with the simple ‘feel’ of a traditional to-do list. It has a well-designed beautiful interface and enough functionality to give well-established apps like things and omnifocus a run for their money. I have reviewed the mac desktop and the ipad apps (both version 2.2); there is no windows version.

While firetask is not perfect, it has almost done the unthinkable: prised me away from omnifocus. It has been like a suitor in a jane austen novel: maybe not the most sensible and respectable choice, but irresistible because of its colour and freshness. I want to spend time in the app, and that is a feeling I haven’t had with omnifocus for a long time. So, after a brief stint with the trial version, I decided to throw caution to the wind and to elope with firetask. Will it end in tears? Continue reading