light and fluid: asana and todoist compared

copyright Ozengo 2014Some task management apps seem inspired by steampunk: bells and whistles, lots of brass, faux leather, wood veneer and plenty of levers to throw. Others are light and fluid, almost zen–like in their barely there simplicity. Do not underestimate these ethereal apps, dear reader, for they may have a lot of potential bubbling away under the hood, ready for you to unleash.

Okay, that was fun. Down to business now: today I’ll be comparing two slender high flyers:  Asana and Todoist.

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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

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

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

pagico’s productivity platform

Every now and then, good things can come from checking your Twitter account. The odd bon mot from the irrepressible Stephen Fry or, in this case, stumbling upon a little productivity gem. Pagico is the handiwork of a small development team based in Japan. The developers describe their product as ‘a comprehensive planner that manages notes, tasks, files, projects and contacts’. It supports individual planning as well as team collaboration and is available for Mac, Windows, Ubuntu, iPhone and iPad.

Pagico is a desktop app that has been around since 2007. It is rich in features yet also somewhat idiosyncratic. It took me a while to find my way around the app and how workspaces can be configured, but it was worth the effort. Pagico has some unusual features: it lets you manually rearrange your tasks on a ‘dashboard’ that looks like a Gantt chart; and it can turn your project steps into a slideshow. Pagico at times feels like a mix of IQTELL, OneNote, MS-Project and KanbanFlow. That is not to say, however, that Pagico is derivative; it has its own intrinsic logic and is an original, versatile and beautifully executed app, particularly on the iPad and the iPhone versions. Interested? Let’s have a closer look… 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

setting up a GTD workflow: evernote or zendone?

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