doit: a surprisingly good task manager

goatinverted When I tried out Doit at the start of 2012 I liked the way in which it had incorporated David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology, but the browser–based app ran so glacially slow as to be unworkable. Of late, I have come across so many positive comments about Doit that I decided to give the app another ‘go’ — and I am glad I did. Doit has matured into an attractive GTD–compatible task manager with email and calendar integration and supported by mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android. While the free version is quite robust, the premium version gives you lots of extra functionality for just $20 per year, including subtasks, a unique review function and the capacity to track goals. Check out the full review and the screenshots… Continue reading

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does your to do list feel bloated and stale?

IMG_0822bLet’s face it: if you follow David Allen’s sensible advice and collect all your tasks, notes and ideas in a single ‘trusted system’, you will be spending a lot of time interacting with that system, whether it be paper–based or centred around a productivity app. Ideally, accessing that system should inspire you to achieve things. It should be a favourite mental hangout, where you catch your breath, regroup and plan how best to spend the next hours or days of your life.

For many of us, the opposite happens: we dread opening up our task manager as we know we will be confronted with a seemingly endless list of tasks. It can be an overwhelming and disheartening experience. Many of the tasks (‘build cubby house’) seemed fun when you first entered them. Months later, here they lie, these bleached and broken dreams, shipwrecked on the cliffs of distraction, washed up on the shores of procrastination. When it gets really bad, it seems as if merely looking at your task list sucks all the life and energy out of you, like a Dementor in the Harry Potter novels.

So what can we do to keep motivated and energised? What can we do to keep our task list lean, informative, stimulating? We cannot complete all tasks quickly, so how do we prevent frequently deferred tasks from going stale? Continue reading

get it done

Every so often I return to Priacta’s interactive GTD software comparison table, which rates and lets you compare more than 160 productivity apps that are compatible with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD®) approach. What made me notice get it done was the high score for GTD–compatibilty (6/10) it received from Priacta, placing this browser–based to do app almost on an equal footing with feature–rich ToodleDo. My interest piqued, I decided to check out the free 15–day trial version and share my findings with you. Continue reading

pagico launches version 6 for desktops

Okay, I confess. I have had a serious case of blogger’s block. As Shakespeare (almost) wrote: ‘I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth [interest in productivity apps]’. Maybe the Christmas pudding was too heavy. Maybe it was quitting my job and setting up a little business of my own. Maybe it was Leo Babauta’s zenhabits injecting a healthy dose of productivity agnosticism into my life.

So what spurred me on to put mouse to wordpress again? An email from Ryo, my software developer pen pal in Japan, who politely enquired how I was going with my review of Pagico 6, the latest upgrade of their productivity flagship for desktops, which was launched on 20 February 2013. Now I have never met Ryo, but the persona emerging from his emails is a kind one, with a commitment to excellence — not the sort of person I would want to disappoint. ‘Lift your game, Ozengo’, I thought, and share the news about Pagico 6 with the bloggerocracy.

I decided to start things off with a one–minute brainstorm about features that matter to me in selecting an app for managing complex projects. I came up with these: structure, ease of use, flexibility, reliability, informative, completeness, collaboration, portability, tracking, visually attractive. There was one more, but I cannot read my own handwriting… I am happy to give Pagico 6 a ‘tick’ against all of these features (except handwriting recognition). So let us have a look at a screenshot. Continue reading

total, relaxed organisation with donedesk

Why would someone produce an excellent browser-based productivity app like donedesk and make it available, free of charge, to individuals and teams alike? The key to answering this question can be found in the history and objectives of a company called Priacta.

Priacta focuses on time management training, coaching and software. They have developed an approach called total, relaxed organisation (TRO), which they see as building on the work of Stephen Covey (The seven habits of highly effective people) and David Allen (How to get things done. The art of stress-free productivity). Priacta presents its TRO model as an innovative workflow and time management system that can free up almost 600 hours per year. Their website outlines the differences between the GTD® and TRO approaches.

The folk at Priacta have certainly done their homework: one of the features of their website is an interactive software comparison table that describes the key features of more than 160 productivity apps and lets you compare them from the perspective of their compatibility with the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) and Total, Relaxed Organisation methods. The Priacta team did not stop there, instead developing a productivity app of their own. Enter donedesk (drumroll). Donedesk is free because Priacta expects to derive its income from training. There is also a more pragmatic reason: collaborating with others requires a shared software platform and requiring payment for an app would limit its uptake.

It is worth noting that TRO does not require the use of donedesk; Priacta delivers TRO training built around any compatible app that the client is already using. I am not connected in any way to Priacta but I like the integrity of a company that rates its own app, donedesk, a modest 5.5 on a (gruelling) 10–point scale. Asana, a very similar app, receives the same score. Priacta rates Omnifocus a low 3.5, citing the app’s lack of support for teams and collaboration, while the older but feature-rich ToodleDo scores an impressive 7.

Let us now look at what donedesk has under the bonnet.

Continue reading

frictionless productivity with asana

Wikipedia tells me that asana is a Sanskrit word referring to a body position in Yoga. Six months ago, googling asana would bring up a plethora of websites about Yoga. Try it now, and the first item on the list of search results is likely to be asana, the task management app for teams. Use asana, and you will understand why this app has become so popular.

Asana is a flexible, browser-based productivity app designed to support team collaboration. However, it can be used just as easily for individual task or project management; and its features enable you to set up a workflow compatible with David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) approach. Asana is free for individuals and teams of up to 30 users and there is a free mobile app for the iPhone/iPad.

As I have not used asana in a team context, this review focuses primarily on its utility as a task management app for individual use. Continue reading

ozengo’s top 10 tips for taming omnifocus

Finding a task management app that appeals and blends in with your working style can take quite some time. At some stage you have to make a choice, stick to it and make it work. Unless, of course, you really enjoy exploring new productivity apps. I find it fascinating that developers come up with so many different approaches to the questions of what do I want/have to do and what is the best way for planning and keeping track of all these activities.

While I have settled upon Omnifocus as my preferred task manager, I am virtually always exploring one or two other apps at the same time. Right now, I am tinkering with asana and Donedesk (if you subscribe to my blog you will be notified by email as soon as the respective reviews  go live). Part of the attraction of entering tasks in a brand new app is the sense of exploration, coupled with a feeling of control: those first fifteen tasks stand there, neatly lined up, tagged and prioritised. They signal the new you, who will wake up clear-headed, have days of stellar achievement and seemingly effortlessly accomplish life goals… Any new app feels sleek and fast, like a regatta boat. By contrast, your trusted old task manager, with its hundreds of tasks collected over the years, can seem like a lumbering nineteenth-century frigate returning from a long ocean voyage, slowed down by the shroud of built-up seaweed on its keel.

It is not a fair comparison of course. Most promising new apps start revealing their flaws or limitations once you have used them for three or four weeks. For me, my ongoing struggle with Omnifocus has been how best to filter the multitude of my tasks in the absence of tags and using only the tools that are provided in the app: perspectives, start dates, due dates and flags. In this post I want to share my learning and workarounds with you in the hope that you will try, or stick with Omnifocus, which I consider the best productivity app around for Mac users. I am not in any way associated with the Omni Group.

If you are not a Mac user, or you want to look further afield, I recommend Priacta’s interactive table comparing productivity apps that are compatible with David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD)® approach. Continue reading