GTD, as a model, provides a logical foundation upon which to follow a solid methodology and further, to build applications that take advantage of that methodology to “Get Things Done” as espoused by David Allen.
In a earlier article I discussed two major, GTD programs, that both get the job done but approach things differently. Todoist, a platform independent program runs on just about everything, whereas the tried and true Omnifocus is platform dependent (Apple) although having been in the industry for quite some time the only thing that stays the same is change. Omnifocus is a powerful Mac only program with a solid history. However, there is nothing to say that Omnifocus has to remain Mac only.
No Lack of Task Management Programs
It can easily be said that there are no lack of task management applications to choose from, a category that is extremely popular for enhancing productivity. In fact, if you were to narrow that category down to just GTD programs there remains a slew of these to choose from. Further, the field just seems to keep growing in popularity rather than leveling off. With this growth, comes some new thinking to improve the way the programs are implemented.
In this article, I want to further evaluate this ballooning application area that is so important in both our personal and professional lives. I will look at a number of task management programs that provide benefits to us in more ways than we realize. As with the first two programs that were GTD in nature this article will continue to explore GTD only programs but those that are primarily, but not exclusively, available to the Mac.
Where would we be if we did not discuss Omnifocus. Although I’ve previously paid attention and covered Omnifocus, the product does not stand still. It is worthwhile discussing Omnifocus almost simply to provide a baseline.
One of the strongest aspects of Omnifocus and especially today’s Omnifocus is it is probably the most powerful product on the market. With that power comes great responsibility.
Omnifocus is made up of 3 components. It has the primary Mac product which one could easily say is a powerhouse. Following that is an iPad app that is almost as strong as the desktop.
Finally, there is a very irresistible iPhone app which is easy to use and a delight to work with. Combined, the synergy of the components cannot be missed. They work in a finely tuned fashion with each other.
Structured yet Flexible
For some they might find the program overly structured and there is no question this would likely be the most structured of the bunch. It tends to adhere the most closely to David Allen’s principles and for some can be viewed as difficult to learn and work with.
One of the things one has to be most cognizant and careful of is that you do not let yourself get inundated with projects and tasks not knowing where to start and how to bite things off in tidbits thus maintaining control of the unfolding of the project.
For some therefore this can lead into one of the other tools is likely seen as most fun and productive. Though they may allow wondering from the GTD principles they can be just as efficient if not more so if you are in better control of the unfolding of your project.
Five Apps in No Particular Order each with their own Mix of Benefits
First and foremost one of the most important things about Omnifocus is it is not cross platform. It is intended to work solely on the Mac platform and although there may not be a problem with this if you need to branch off to another platform as say someone has joined the group that cannot run Omnifocus, then this is a no starter from the get go.
However, if you just need a task manager to organize yourself there might be nothing better for you than Omnifocus. So, a part of the exercise of this article is to identify needs more closely or as closely to the front end so that you choose the right tool set.
I some ways, each program comes with a set of benefits and all weighed in can create a sense of equivalency. What one can’t do, another can and on it goes. The attempt here is to match needs to task manager as closely as possible so you don’t find yourself in a box. From the outset, we determined that this is one of the most highly populated areas for task management. The simplest of the task managers might be able to do as much and possibly more than the most complicated so complexity isn’t a determinant of success. The right alignment of needs balanced against function is.
Let’s now look at what is considered a GTD program that has always been touted as one of the easier to use. In this case, as long as the program need not be more than a Mac based program, supports the primary tenets of GTD this then could be a good choice. Flash against function is no determinant of a successful program applied to a project.
Things from Culture Code
As you work through this article you will find that some of the topics covered off have been done so previously but in a different light. Part of this is to reflect the diversity of these programs but it is not my intent to undermine past works that has stood the test of time.
“Alain Latour” in his article Things 2: Could This Be The Perfect App For People Who Want A Simple, Yet Powerful GTD Solution? presents a strong case for Things 2 as a powerful yet flexible program that allows one to get the job done. Although it draws on strong GTD principles, it veers from full adherence to the model to allow the flexibility to work the way you like working. It provides a slightly different approach that works.
The one thing Alain brings out in his article is the program is getting a little old and we were expecting a new program by now that would refresh the core. Yet, his view is this program still brings a lot to the table to make it a worth whiled contributor.
Thus, in a cursory overview of Alain’s “Things” work, regardless that the program is growing a bit long in the tooth, it can be a worthwhile system to manage a project. If form matches needs, then you might likely have a good candidate unless the program breaks at one of the critical, needed components. If, as an example, the program must be cross platform, then it is time to move on.
The Hit List Arising Again
The Hit List was a very popular program in its day for ease of use, speed of input and quality of output. It languished for a while until Karelia bought it and put new vigor into the program.
With a new iPad app, a fully refreshed iPhone/iPod app it has been nicely brought up to snuff to make this one of the strongest, single user task managers. If your project requires just the management of your portion, cross platform is not significant. However, ease of use and speed are likely benefits that can easily be drawn on.
Again, much has been written on this program in a favorable light at the Daily Mac View long before it saw an iPad version something people had been asking for at length. The reason is simple; it had a very loyal following but when people feel they aren’t being listened to one has to know when it’s time to throw in the towel. It was almost that time but fortunately people remained steadfast and they were rewarded in kind.
In “The Hit List comes back Swinging with a very Strong iPad Client rounding out their system’s Capabilities.” This program remains a personal favorite a long with the next one to be discuss.
Todoist; Possibly the Best
Todoist is a cross platform system that runs on almost everything identically. Android, IOS, Mac, Blackberry etc. each one looking like a mirror of the last. I should state that just because a program is cross platform it doesn’t mean it can’t run solo. In the case of Todoist, it does this beautifully in that no matter which platform it’s on it looks the same reducing the learning curve dramatically. If you were to only run on the Mac, it’s easy to see how this is the case.
Once you take it cross platform though it really shines. I’d say it’s just as easy to use as the Hit List only different and you are certainly ensuring you won’t have your feet chopped off. When it was a weaker program, it was still incredibly good it would just have been more difficult to make such statements about the program. Finally though, I’m remiss as to come up with drawbacks.
Identities, subtasks, priorities, dates and time to start/complete etc make this a fine product. Does it weigh you down in an area? I’d say no. Is it multi-user and that it definitely is. Thus, even if you didn’t anticipate this kind of growth, no one need be left out.
In some ways, how do you choose which factor it should be that is the deciding factor. Maybe it’s not one factor but a set of factor which dictates the program. The one thing about Todoist that should relieve the nervousness around something of this magnitude is the degree to which the program can grow with you. It can be that sole, single user DB that only you need access to, to a wide variety of outcomes that can lead to a certain decision. This kind of flexibility can’t be underestimated as at times it’s difficult to see all parameters a project can lead you down.
The Newest of the New; Swipes
Swipes is really the newest of these bunch in this grab bag of task managers ranging from the very simple GTD programs to the most complex. Swipes can be viewed as a GTD program but not as much in the traditional sense. It it a fully cross platform program which is very new.
If you like the idea of working with a program based on a model, Swipes falls into this category. However, it doesn’t adhere to the GTD model as strictly as some. The one thing that I really like Swipes for is keeping your visual field relatively clean. If there is no need to see a program till later on, that is what Swipes will deliver. This makes it very easy to keep your eye focused on the immediate target.
In the following article “A Changing of the Guard: Todoist or Swipes” an overview is provided which looks at these newer programs and what they offer. Swipes might be the program for you.
Finally; 2Do One of the Older that has Morphed into a GTD Product
2Do, and for that matter TODO, are older products that morphed a long the way to become GTD by nature. The advantage is efficiency based on a tried and true model intended to move you forward. 2Do does not have to be a GTD product however, it is hard to deny the benefits such a program brings to the table.
2Do prides itself on not having to be GTD but can be if you want it to be. Thus, the program is stated to be able to meld to your way of working. Yet, there are so many discernible benefits that go with a GTD enable program it makes sense to take advantage of this functionality. Considering that it runs on both Android and the Mac platform, the benefits can be considered both long and wide.
Your choice of Program; A Matter of Style
As I commented very early on, there is so much available in the task management front one needs a way of measuring how the benefits pay back in kind. It can be a method to quickly clear, in a methodical fashion, your tasks. It can be a single family or multiple family of processors. Finally, each of these programs come with their own nuances some which will suit you better than others.
It is important not to get too bogged down in your choice. Do you need just a:
- plain Jane task manager
- is it for single or multiple use
- cross platform
- easily measurable
- easy to work with
- have attributes you find particularly appealing
To conclude, if I only need a program that will help me remember what needs doing and it is solely for my use, I like The Hit List for its aesthetics, speed and just simply getting the job done.
If I require a program that crosses boundaries then my preference is Todoist. There is really no platform it won’t work on, is fully GTD enabled, keeps me on track and is fundamentally measurable. It has a nice way of working also. It looks the same regardless of platform.
When Push comes to Shove
The reality is you really don’t want to work with more than one program. Simply, you’ll become more adept at the one program than whether it is for a sole activity or team collaboration. You’ll be more efficient. Thus, I choose Todoist to do it all. I can work alone on the program or I can easily build a team. I find it to be a good, capable program for sole use, cross platform and team use. Finally, it’s fast and easy to use.