Some 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.
The first principle of David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ (GTD™) approach to task and project management is that you should capture every task or project that comes into your head in what he calls a trusted system.
For me, Omnifocus has provided that trusted system since 2009 and the rollout of Omnifocus 2 for iMac in June 2014 has further strengthened what was already a powerful, versatile and reliable app. The two most compelling features of Omnifocus 2 for desktops are the review function and the Forecast view—both adapted from the groundbreaking iPad app.
The downside of following the great GTD™ guru’s advice to the letter is that you end up with a lot of ‘stuff’ in your trusted system. My Omnifocus file typically holds around 700 entries in some 60 projects. Not all of these are to–do items in the narrow sense: some ‘projects’ contain lists of books to read, movies to watch, places I’d like to travel to. Including these makes the file bigger, but also ramps up the fun factor: I do not just fire up Omnifocus when there’s another bill to be paid…
So read on if you are interested in the strategies that I have developed to manage a high volume of tasks in Omnifocus 2.
In October 2012 I first wrote about asana, praising the browser–based task management app for coming close to delivering on the developers’ vision of frictionless productivity. Since that first review, asana has gone from strength to strength, refining its user interface and adding tons of new functionality.
This 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
Your effectiveness in getting things done is not determined solely by your own productivity—it also depends on the work of others and on your ability to manage and track their contribution. Not surprising then, that David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ methodology recognises ‘waiting for’ as a distinct work ‘context’. It is used to flag tasks that you are not able to complete yourself because you lack the technical expertise, the mandate, or simply the time or the interest. Whether your project is planning your gran’s 90th birthday party or delivering a major urban renewal initiative, it is crucial that you have a clear overview of all project tasks that have been delegated to others.
So how can you achieve this in Omnifocus, the legendary desktop–based task management app for Mac? I have been using Omnifocus since 2009 and I keep finding new ways of making the app work better for me. I also know from experience that newcomers can find user–defined views, which Omnifocus calls ‘perspectives’, daunting and hard to set up. This post explains how to set up an Omnifocus perspective that enables you to keep track of the tasks that you have delegated. Continue reading
OfficeTime is a powerful yet easy to use time tracking application. It comes in desktop versions for Windows and Mac (build 1.64—$47) and a mobile version for the iPad and the iPhone (build 3.9.6—$8.49). While OfficeTime helps you keep track of billable hours and can generate invoices, it is equally useful outside a business context. You could, for example, use it to monitor how much time you spend on volunteer or club activities, hobbies or new habits, or as a study tool. Think of it as a pedometer for the brain.
This is an independent review. I have used the OfficeTime desktop version for Mac in my home office (OS 10.8.3) to track a number of commercial and private projects. While OfficeTime has the capacity to track work and billable hours across employees and teams, I have not explored those features. Continue reading
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
Today’s launch rounds out a productivity suite that already included task and project management apps for Mac, Windows and Ubuntu desktops and the iPad. Pagico has a unique take on task management — see my recent review of the desktop app for more information — and its special character has survived the transition to the iPhone very well.
Pagico Plus was developed for the iPhone from the ground up and offers a clean and colourful user interface, fast data entry, searching and syncing. It is available from the iTunes Store for $9.99 and complements Pagico’s iPad and desktop versions. The iPhone app requires IOS 6 and is compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5. Read on for more information and screenshots. Continue reading
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
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.