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 →
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.
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 →
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.
Be warned: mention Todoist in conversation and everyone will hear to do list. Maybe it means I mumble. Maybe it means that people hear what they expect to hear. Maybe it means all the good names have been taken and app names are becoming more contrived. Maybe I am over-thinking this.
Todoist is quite a decent browser-based task management app and the basic version is free. Its user interface is reminiscent of GQueues: clean, simple and colourful, with a list of projects on the left and a task list in the centre of the page. The app is easy to use and can be set up to work with a getting things done® workflow. There are mobile versions for the iPhone and iPad.
Entering and sorting tasks in Todoist used to be irksome: you had to click on the ‘add task’ button, click on the ‘save’ button and then on the ‘I’m done adding tasks’ button. Re-arranging the order of tasks in a project used to be similarly cumbersome. A recent update has simplified these processes and introduced interesting new features, so you may want to give this simple but powerful app another chance. Continue reading →
The choice between Omnifocus and Things has been a matter of discussion in the mac community for a number of years now. Each of these two task management apps has its proponents and detractors. For some, Things embodies elegance and Omnifocus complexity. However, users who have used both often keep shuttling back and forth, seemingly unable to choose between the two. When using Things they miss the hierarchy of subtasks and subfolders available in Omnifocus. After switching back to Omnifocus, they miss the simplicity of Things and the ability to attach multiple tags to a task. They find being restricted to using a single context in Omnifocus frustrating as it means, for example, that allocating a ‘waiting for’ context to a task means that the original context has to be removed first and possibly reinstated later. In Things you just add a ‘waiting for’ tag alongside your original tag(s). But what a pity tasks cannot be indented…
The recent release of Things 2 for Mac, iPad and iPhone makes it worth revisiting this discussion. Things 2 introduces a number of significant improvements, including cloud synching, a daily review system, improved date picking on the iPad and integration with Reminders and Siri. These new features are described clearly on the Things website; my aim in this post is to compare the current functionality and the respective strengths of Omnifocus and Things 2.
In my previous post I introduced you to IQTELL’s virtual workspace, which brings together all your calendars, email accounts, contact information, tasks and notes into the one gargantuan browser-based application.
In this post I want to use a couple of screenshots provided by the IQTELL team to zoom in upon one of those areas and take you on a tour of IQTELL as a task manager. Continue reading →
This post, dear reader, commences as a tale of mystery. A dark tale of late night tweets and skype calls across the continents. It all started with a tweet inviting Ozengo to become a beta tester for something called ‘IQTELL’ and proposing ‘a private session’. Now Ozengo knew about cold calling, but was new to the world of cold tweeting. Or should that be #coldtweeting? Anyhow, Ozengo’s curiosity was piqued sufficiently for him to fire up his trusted mac to unleash some serious research upon this whole IQTELL proposition.
It turned out that the IQTELL crowd claimed to have developed ‘a single, fully integrated application that allows you to manage all your needs‘. Ozengo’s initial response was one of scepticism. Most things that sound too good to be true are just that. However, it being a cold and rainy saturday morning in Melbourne, Ozengo looked further afield and came across consistently positive comments about this fledgling beta on user forums. Could this be true, a browser-based application that provided integration with your email, calendar, contacts and Evernote? That was steeped in David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology and fully customisable?
Having signed up as a beta tester, Ozengo set to work, quickly and methodically, and this is what he discovered:
One of the core principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ (GTD™) approach to task management is that you need a ‘trusted system’ for capturing all the information, ideas and tasks that come your way. Evernote is eminently well-suited for the ‘collect’ phase of the GTD process: it provides an intuitive, versatile and robust repository for every shred of information that you may wish to collect, whether that be a business card, a recipe or a web page. You can sort your information in folders, tag individual items and retrieve your information thanks to a lightning-fast search function. Evernote is zenlike in its simplicity, but can it be adapted to support the more complex phases of a GTD workflow? Will it help you process all this information, organise tasks and review priorities? Can it help you to get things done? Or are you better off co-opting a custom-built application like Zendone, which was designed to provide a task management overlay to help you work with the information stored in Evernote? Continue reading →
GQueues is an attractive and powerful online task manager that integrates with your Google account. Its colourful and easy to use interface is built around folders that contain lists of tasks (called ‘queues’). You can drag and drop tasks, tag them and add notes or due dates. GQueues is highly customisable and can be set up to support a Getting Things Done™ (GTD™) workflow.
The ‘lite’ version of GQueues is free and provides enough functionality to be used for individual task management. The paid version costs $25 per year and adds full team collaboration, integration with Google Calendars and access to mobile versions for the iPhone and iPad and Android phones and tablets. Continue reading →