For many periods in my life I’ve been disorganised. I’ve coped in three ways. First I try to stay in organised and regular environments; schools and universities can be good for this (but they can also be very very bad for this). Second, I’ve usually liked what I’ve been doing, and would often spend extra time at things, which made up for disorganisation; I’m also reasonably good at solving mathematical problems fairly quickly, which gives me more time. Third, when I was a high school student and actually had to plan my time, I was fairly conscientious about setting short and medium term goals, then making realistic schedules and todo lists.
Lately I’ve fallen off the wagon, and I’m trying to get back on. One thing that might help me would be a todo-type program that is fun to use. But I want it to be more than just a list; these are some of the characteristics that I would like:
- The ability to interface with Google Calendar, or something equally useful, that also interfaces with Gmail. Basically I’m looking for some MS Outlook functionality online and with Web 2.0 capabilities.
- I want it to help me group the tasks in a rational and flexible way.
- It should also help me prioritise. and show at least a bit of a time-line, so you can see the big picture
- An easy method of attaching notes and links to tasks would be nice
- Some rudimentary way of filtering the tasks so you can look at it in different ways depending on your needs
- Stability, expandability, and free would be nice as well.
Finally, I’ve been hearing about a new system of organisation that I’m used to (i.e. thinking through things, listing things to be done in a time order, then adapting it as necessary). It’s called Getting Things Done (GTD) by Dave Allen, and has a bit if a cult following in the CS world. There are a number of applications out there that have been design for, or adapt well to, GTD. In fact, many organisational applications are calling themselves GTD compliant. There’s also a web site called 43 Folders with a lot of good advice.
In my little bit of spare time I’ve tried a few applications that might fit my needs and be adaptable to GTD methodology. Considering that I want something that is simple to understand and use, and doesn’t have a steep learning curve nor gremlins, I’ll admit I haven’t given each application a thorough shake. Like many other people, I don’t have that much time to waste. Here are a few I’ve tried, and a brief explanation of why my current preference came about.
- GTD compliant
- Simple and clean interface
- orders by priority and deadline, organises by context and project
- it has to be downloaded to a server, and I’m told it currently needs to be on a Linux platform
- no email nor calendar view or interface
- GTD compliant.
- Simple, flexible, and online.
- Basically makes as many lists of tasks as you want, so you can organise it whatever way you want.
- You can easily change the order of items in a list.
- The simplicity and clean interface make it fun to use.
- has no date dues, priorities, calendar, email reminders, or searchability.
- This is a Firefox extension that works within Gmail.
- The installation and setup was fairly straightforward.
- You need to understand GTD, and be using it close to the original intent, for the extension to be useful. I also had some problems understanding the help documentation; they could have had a few simple examples to show the workflow and rationale.
- Having said that, it has good reviews from GTD freaks, and is built right into an email package, which fits right in for some professions. I predict email freaks might like it a lot.
- Here is a tutorial of how to use it to do GTD with GTDGmail. I guess I’ll fiddle with it this weekend and let you know.
- Simple, fexible, powerful.
- Online and free, but with a $15/yr fee you get to have a good calendar and long-term storage of your task history.
- You can organise by project and/or folder, set due dates, time your tasks with a nifty timer for each task, set priorities for tasks, set the usual repeating task periods (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, yearly).
- You can also add notes to each task, manipulate multiple tasks, and import tasks from other applications.
- there are gadgets for Google and Firefox, and an API.
- It also has a Hotlist ordered by date and priority, that it can email you.
- The display is easily customisable, and can be as simple or complicated as you want.
- However, the Calendar for the free version is only the current month, and the email notification is rudimentary.
- I’ve used this one for 3 days to organise work, and am fairly satisfied with it.
- Here is a comparison of Toodledo and several other equivalents.
- This one I tried today.
- It seems to have all the functionality of Toodledo, and the interface is cleaner, nicer, and clearer.
- Reminders can be sent to you via email, IM, or SMS. Instant messenger support extends to AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, and MSN. Even better, you can add a task by email.
- You can select multiple tasks to perform certain actions.
- You have lists that are organised in tabs, and you can add (or ignore) a large number of options.
- Options for a task include priority, due date, repeat times (this is extremely flexible), time estimate, tags, location (more about this later), and multiple notes for each task.
- Location allows you to associate a task with a location on google Maps. With this you can see which tasks need to be done where, and plan accordingly.
- Lists can be published with the iCalendar service to Google Calendar, Apple iCal, and Mozilla Sunbird. I found that when I published a list, it appeared in Google Calendar, but the date was yesterday, drat it! If they can fix it, it would be great.
- QuickAdd is a bookmarklett that lets you quickly add a date for an event to RTM (Remember the Milk) for Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera. I’ve tried it, and it works.
- Searching: you can search tags, content, dates, and other fields with a fairly powerful search engine. If you save the search you can use it as a filtered list called a Smart List. For example, you could have a list that contains high priority items due this week, another with all high priority items, another with things relating to your friend Heather, etc. Smart Lists sound potentially very powerful.
- There are also RSS and Atom feeds, a nifty Task Cloud similar to a tag cloud, etc.
- It is free, and the bottom line is you can keep it very simple, or add as much as you want. I’ll be playing with Smart Lists and locations.
- A lot of the functionality is explained here, and the blog is here.
At this point RTM looks promising, and I’ll let you know. When they fix the iCalendar service to Google Calendar, I think I’ll have almost everything I need.
If anyone has an application that they would recommend, I’d appreciate it.
Have a good weekend.