Moe Rant: Remaining Productive With A Diarrhea Of Task Management Apps

Posted by Matthew Snider with 10 Comments


OK, so most people know that I am a HUGE Omnifocus user on Mac, iPhone and iPad. It has been my go to app of choice for the last year. However, what you didn’t know was that I used to date (scratch) depend on an earlier app called Things. We were in love together and I purchased all their apps (iPhone, iPad, Mac), and I was happy.

After task-management apps started switching to the cloud, Things let go of itself and got too comfortable (like wearing sweatpant around the house) and I broke up with it. I became promiscuous and tried several other solutions (Wunderlist, the Hit List, Remember The Milk, Todo, etc). I thought I was living the life, but I would come home tired, and exhausted after trying so many different apps that I would have a hard time remembering their names.

What happened next is that a lot of these productivity apps have improved tremendously and their cloud sync solutions are all comparable. And being the productivity nut that I am, I have spent lots of time, money and iPhone space trying to decide which solution is best for me.

This morning I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming I had a PTD (productivity transmitted disease). Soon after, I went to my iPhone and decided to delete all the apps I have been trying.

At this rate, I have committed to stop testing new task management apps and settle down with one app. I think I’m ready for the big decision and since Things 2.0 makes it very compelling, I have decided to go back to it. I know it took you 20 months to offer cloud sync, but I’ve missed you. You are pretty, dependable and you make me feel good about myself. It’s true what they say, “if you love someone (or something), you have to let it go. If it comes back, it was meant to be”. I think this is love!

Wish me luck! I am committed to Things (I put it on my iPhone dock – which is like putting a ring on it). Till death do us

Matthew Snider

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Matthew is the Editor-In-Chief, and founder of Geek for i. He has produced such posts as Top 5 iPhone Apps For The BathroomMac or PC and many more. His love for iDevices started back when he purchased the original iPhone.

10 responses to Moe Rant: Remaining Productive With A Diarrhea Of Task Management Apps

  1. Would you say that Things is worth the $60 ecosystem for Mac and iPhone? The price seems high for a task manager with so many other free alternatives. I know you get what you pay for, but sometimes it’s not worth all that extra coin.

    • Also, with $20 extra just to have on iPad, you’re at $80 to tie in all three.

      • That’s the million dollar questions (actually the $80 question). :)

        I don’t remember it being that expensive, or maybe I did pay that much for it back then. I bought the apps when they were first released. Then I dumped them for about a year. Thankfully, they didn’t charge for the 2.0 upgrade. I remember them discussing they wanted to charge just for the cloud sync.

        I like to support small developers, but they do have to be competitive and offer a service that is as good or better than the others. What frustrated me about them was their long wait on cloud sync. That’s why I left them. Thankfully, their cloud solution is top notch and really fast.

        I’ll tell you this, if they would have charged for the 2.0 release, I would not have bought the app (on none of my devices).

        With that said, I like the new update a lot. It really does work flawless and it’s a very pretty, simple and yet powerful app.

  2. My initial question was the same as Brett’s so here’s a follow up.

    How do you implement what is essentially a project management tool that seems scaled for application in the work environment at a personal level?

    I would hope the $80 investment provides stellar tools, but how do you incorporate Things into your workflow? How do you apply the tools & features?

    • Just to follow up, I bit the bullet and got the iPhone app. I also got the trial Mac version. A couple days in and here are my observations: iPhone app worth the $10, and will probably drop the Mac version once the trial ends.

      I found myself on the iPhone app by and large more than on my Mac simply because it’s always at my hip for when I’m accomplishing/setting up tasks when I think of them as opposed to being at my Mac. iPad app is just silly to purchase as it does not offer any additional features that the iPhone app doesn’t have, and I will have my iPhone on me when I’m on my iPad anyways.

      The Mac apps biggest feature over the iPhone is the ease of setting up tasks with the keyboard, shortcuts and mouse interface. But is it worth the additional $50? Not for me at least. The $10 iPhone app is the most used/best purchase out of the three. I would recommend the iPhone app, but I just can’t see the other apps being $70 worth of benefits.

      • Good point Brett. I bought all three and I agree. The desktop app is perfect when you just want to spend 1 hr setting up your initial “brain dump”. But you have to also remember that you can use it when browsing the web, doing email and doing work on it. The true multitasking abilities come at a great advantage. If I’m reading an article and have some things I want to follow up with, I use the bookmarklet in the browser and it creates a quick task. Same for email. I receive tons of email with things to do. I just use the “create a task” feature that automatically puts the body of the email in the notes area of the task feature. Same for actual work on desktop. I suppose you can do this on iOS, but never as quick and effective due to the limitations Apple puts on the OS.

    • Sorry I’m late on this, but here’s my response:

      First, if you see project management as only a tool for work environment, you have a) a lazy life b) a misunderstanding of “project” work.

      To me, a project is anything that takes more than one task to complete.

      Here’s how I implement Things into my personal workflow:

      1. I use Areas: I have: Personal, Family, Kids, Bills, BC, Discipulus, Geekfori, Work as areas.

      2. I use tags as context: Auto, Phone, Email, Daycare, Writing, Mac, Home, iPhone, iPad, Internet, Office, Errand, Priority (High, medium, Low), Time (1hr+, 30 min, 15 min)

      3. Projects (as I said anything that takes more than 1 step to complete). I have: Project Chopper (code: confidential), 2012 Catalyst (buy airfare, purchase event tickets, car rental, email boss re: Out of office, RSVP bloggers meetup, Pack, etc…), XYZ Project (confidential), Bloggin Series (4 steps), Paperless Project (go completely paperless): scan all docs, shred docs, Establish folder structure, use cloud, etc), Kid’s Back to school project (supplies, bus arrangement, uniforms, forms that need to be filled, etc).

      Someday Items: items that are not priority but I will maybe need to get done.

      For me, staying organized and being productive is my #1 priority in all aspects, family, spiritual, and business life. Things keeps me on top of that in a way that is both, effective and beautiful.

      • I have experienced “project management” in a traditional sense and while I apply some of the principles to keeping my non-lazy life organized, was curious to know how you leverage it more effectively on a personal level. Although, your false dichotomous jab was uplifting.

        Awesome explanation of how to integrate a robust tool like Things into being a GTD ninja in all aspects. I think that could be another post in itself, “Moe’s Best Practices for Getting Things Done”.

        I’m actually tempted to shell out the $80 for the full Things toolbox.

  3. Sure, the market is full of task management tools of different types like Trello, Comindware task manager and some others, butit doesn’t mean that you should use them all and try them all. I have chosen only of few of them which satisfy me a lot and I use them not to get crazy with the various types they offer on the market.

    • Of course not. But in order to find the right tool for you, you do have to explore what options are available. If I want to buy running shoes and go to Foot Locker, I don’t choose just any running shoe. I choose the one that provides the most comfort, look and price.

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