This was not an easy decision. In the end, I was very torn between TODOist and 2Do. I was looking for a cross platform, task management system that could meet my needs to follow GTD (Getting Things Done) generally, was very robust and yet easy as opposed to overwhelming. TODOist is actually probably the overall easiest of the two but 2Do is probably the more robust.
The Hit List, which is one of my favourites, had to be ruled out as it only works IOS and although I need that I need my system to work with Android. Otherwise, this would have been an extremely hard decision and I might have chosen the Hit List if Android wasn’t as important as it is.
Omnifocus was ruled out quickly also. Even though there is a third party app in the Google Play store that runs on Android and syncs with Omnifocus, Omnifocus is one of those apps that can quickly overwhelm you with projects and tasks. Even though I believe it to be a good system, I was looking for something with power and flexibility that just got the job done.
One other thing you have to consider when working with a third party app connecting to the main app is whether it’s there for the long haul. If the Omni isn’t interested in ensuring their customers are happy except if they run Apple, this is not a company for me.
As I said, I was really torn between this app and 2Do. They are both very powerful applications that can easily follow the rules of GTD. Todoist’s advantage, at least for me, was it’s simplicity and slightly more familiar GTD look.
It supports projects, tasks, contexts and all the other paraphernalia one expects in a good GTD application. It’s easy to set up smart lists for a variety of views that makes dealing with your information very manageable. And most of all, it runs identically in all environments.
There is a couple of last very cool features that is both functional and saves you the trouble of manually doing it. If you have a due date that is before today, what you might want to do is refresh the due date. All of this can be done in a batch mode and your new due date doesn’t fall before today but after. This is extremely handy and makes for fast housekeeping.
One more very cool feature that Todoist shares in common with today is the ability to enter an activity anywhere on your handheld. This is a real time save. No longer do you have to search for the program. Just swipe down from the top and about the last entry is a tab to create a new entry. Time savings like these make TODOist highly desirable.
In the end I settle on 2Do but as I mentioned this was not an easy decision. I could see one settling on TODOist for it’s simplicity yet power and the cohesiveness of the application. It has a clean, simple user interface which makes working program all the less confusing and ensuring the accuracy of what you need to do.
Considering 2Do, I once described 2Do as a powerhouse of an application that throws in the kitchen sink for good measure. It is a highly flexible with a boatload of options helping you manage projects fully and though at first it seems overwhelming once you’re onto it, the program is completely full featured. Once you’re onto the program it is relatively easy to use.
Probably the Best Cross Platform Task Management System
Although 2Do at one time made a big fuss about not being a GTD program per se, they have actually done a couple of things to at least say we are a GTD program. Their indicator in settings for a default folder can be the inbox, something integral to GTD.
As I initially said, my requirements for a task management program span a number of areas but at a minimum it has to be GTD capable. I simply view things this way as currently I think it’s the best model for Getting Things Done. David Allen himself I would suspect supports this program as he is big on the inbox, fluidity or flow, lists, tasks in lists and more than one task related is part of a project. 2Do is all these things.
Many programs, including Todoist, see a project as an envelope for the set of tasks that make it a GTD task manager. The lists would contain tasks and as I mentioned if the lists have two or more related items, they are suddenly part of a project.
In 2Do, anything can be turned into a project but it makes no sense to have one task a project. Rather, I call it just a One Step List that contains one task to accomplish your goal. The idea is, at the end of the day, you want to bring your inbox to zero and this can be done in 2Do extremely well.
In fact, when you look at all the above requirements of a task manager to be a system 2Do covers off all the bases.
2Do’s Structure Goes Beyond
2Do’s structure is a little unique and goes beyond that of most of the other programs. 2Do doesn’t have anything called contexts per se so you can make tags your contexts and also additional tags. Create a set of tags that are your traditional contexts. However, don’t stop there. Continue to use tags to isolate important cross information about the project. What this is doing is expanding your views of what’s been done and still needs doing
Lists are exactly that: lists. Lists can be used in more than one way and you can have any number of lists but I strictly use lists as my contexts. My tags are free to relate cross information. My lists are my contexts such as Personal, Work, Computer, Financial etc. These I keep stagnant but you could take lists another step by separating them into group lists.
Lists in this other step could be variable and when done with archived. I tend not to do this with my lists. Lists came about in this way as the company, Beehive, was working to incorporate GTD. For some, this extra level of list control is probably valuable but I prefer to define my lists strictly as contexts in 2Do.
Smart Lists: the Powerhouse of Views
Smart Lists follow their name. Based on search criteria, a Smart List is simply made up of varying items to get at an answer and thus provides fast, reusable and very powerful views. Say you want to see everything due for the next 3 days; no problem. Say you want to see all your active projects; again no problem. Let’s say you want to see all your active projects by context for whatever period of time; voila your search leads to an outcome and you just save it to be applied over and over again making it a Smartlist.
Viewing your Data is What it’s all About
The goal of task management is ultimately to help you get things done. To do this means you absolutely have to have balance between what you’re writing to get done and getting it done.
I saw some people get very carried away with writing out tasks for sometimes the most trivial stuff so that eventually they were presented with a ream of projects and tasks and they either had no time to do them or they were overwhelmed by all they had to do.
In the David Allen model he discusses the idea of a weekly review in which you take stock of what you’ve done. This is a good idea as if all you’re doing is writing out todo’s, in reality you’re not getting anything done. The faster this is pointed out, the better.
The Brain Dump
David Allen talks very early on about doing a brain dump into what he calls your trusted system. He does not believe the brain can handle much more than 8 concurrent items. We are going inclined forget a lot.
To avoid this, he fully believes that everything you need to do you get out in lists on paper. In paper, in theory, at the very beginning as you’re getting onto GTD this is probably not a bad exercize. However, this is where we part ways. I still think it’s important to write down those critical items you might forget. Further, adding structure to getting these things done isn’t a bad idea. However, if you habitually do this brain dump or write down everything involved as a task in a project (e.g. Brushing your teeth) you will have caught yourself in a very deadly trap. You’ll never get anything done till the boss starts to yell where is such and such.
The Brain Dump in it’s Place
The idea of a brain dump takes away from the power of our brains provided we don’t have an organic disease. You inevitably want your system of choice to help you get stuff done. If you are so overwhelmed by activities from the system, you won’t get anything done. A fine balance needs to be drawn between what you do just because you’ve thought of it and remembered it and those items you might not remember. In fact, even with those items you may remember, you might want to throw them in for the structure they provide around getting your project done.
However, avoid the trap of a constant brain dump. Every day write down what’s important to get done, when and how. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You can be very effective if you win the 100 million dollar system sale but not ineffective because you lost 10 ten thousand dollar system sales. It’s a matter of priority.
However, just to be clear, I think the idea of a very quick weekly and even a daily review of what has been accomplished is a good thing. It is a feedback mechanism that allows you to modify your approach if necessary. You will quickly see the pitfalls of one approach over another and that which is more effective to most effective.
2Do Gets at What’s s Important at Various Levels
2Do was an application designed to not follow a methodological paradigm. It was developed with the idea of what works best for you.
The addition of the GTD paradigm is a welcome addition as I believe a well worked out paradigm or model helps with the way you organize information. That’s why they say 2Do can be whatever you want it to be.
If you want to take a fast a simplistic approach to your tasks, no problem. However, if you want to apply the kitchen sink, that’s no problem either. There are times where you just need a simple reminder to a much more sophisticated task management approach.
Personally, I like GTD in moderation. That is, I like the structure that it brings to my endeavours but I won’t let it become the b all and end all. It is a tool. It is merely a means to an end if it’s done well.
Compared to the GTD only Systems
As I mentioned, the choice between TODOist and 2Do was a hard one. They both bring a lot to the table so I would say what works for you best is the one to go with. TODOist can be more straightforward, on the one hand but demand more as a GTD program.
2Do is a program that can be much more yet it can just be a simple reminders based task system. This demonstrates it’s flexibility. To get on to all aspects of 2Do can be a bit daunting and time consuming but you can also pick it up and begggg running with it in minutes.
2Do will meld to your way of working with all the horsepower you need to make that happen. You will eventually find your best way of working with the program and if done with conscious awareness of your style, methods and what works for you best provided there is some application of discipline 2Do will do it for you.
Task Management as a Freeing, Liberating Tool to Get things Done
The one thing I love about David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” is the latter part of the title. There needs to be a benefit to the model and I feel “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity“ so very well says it. Done properly, overall the method is meant to free us up to do other things such as leisure, more work, student studies etc.
By taking control of our process to enable ourselves to get things done, we feel less out of control and defined in our trusted system that it will enable or help us get our work done or whatever that may be. This taking control, not in a psychiatrically obsessed way but in a way we know that it will happen reduces dramatically stress.
Don’t get me wrong. Things don’t necessarily go according to plan. Life isn’t like that. Yet, to the degree we can adjust to life’s variances or apply a model up front to aid us, we will feel that what would feel impossible feels possible. This in and of itself manages the process so that you end up with more free time on your hands and hopefully managing a set of tasks so that they meet your desired outcome.
The Task Manager you Employ is only as good as that which works For You
One reason I had difficulty deciding between TODOist and 2Do is that both work very well for me. If I just worked with IOS, then the Hit List would have fit right in there. The challenge that is faced is ultimately picking.
Some go through a good period of time trying this task manager and that hoping their is some perfect system at the end of the day. Such does not exist. What does exist is something that works better for you than that for someone else.
Omnifocus might work extremely well for the project/task obsessed individual but work terribly for someone that finds this too overwhelming in it’s outputs. The key then is to choose even if they seem close and you think you might do better with the other and on it goes.