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Organize Your Digital Life 7 – Organize your tasks

This is the seventh in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

getting-things-doneWithout a doubt, task management is one area of my life that has improved the most in 2009.  I always thought I had a decent system, but then David Allen came and rocked my world.

Back in 2001, David wrote a book called “Getting Things Done“, which I finally read late last year.  The book offers a great system to build into your life to stay organized and be as efficient as possible.  If you haven’t read the book yet, I highly recommend it.

Whether or not you decide to use a system like that, there are some great tools available online to help you organize your task list.  As you’ve probably guessed by now, my priorities when choosing a system included having one that was web-based so that I could access it from anywhere and it would always be backed up.  There are some decent programs out there that you can install, but most of the options out there are completely web-based.

I also wanted one that tied somewhat into GTD methodology.  I’m not strict about implementing his system, but I like to stay with the general flow of it (“projects” for everything, “next actions” in each project so you know what the next step is, etc).

Here are a few of the better ones that I considered:

  • Remember the Milk — This is one of the more popular solutions out there.  They have an easy interface and a slick iPhone app.  However, it missed the “next actions” part of GTD entirely.  Some products let you “star” particular items, which does the same kind of thing.  RTM does neither.
  • Google Tasks — Amazingly, I’m not going to suggest the Google solution.  Google Tasks is relatively new, and very simple.  It integrates nicely with Gmail, Calendar, etc, but it’s simply too lightweight.  I anticipate it will develop more features over time, and may eventually be the right choice to use.  For now, it’s not even in the conversation.
  • ToodleDo — ToodleDo is a very powerful application, with a ton of features and a great iPhone app.
  • Nozbe — Nozbe is the first tool I looked at, with an ever-expanding toolset and a solid iPhone app.

There are more that might be worth considering, such as Action Method, Nirvana and many others.  When it came down to it, though, Nozbe was the best solution for me.  I came really close to choosing ToodleDo, but Nozbe just worked better for me.  I wrote up a comparison of the two earlier in the year.  While both products have matured a bit since then, the basic comparison of features still holds true.

So why do I stick with Nozbe?

Some reasons:

  • Sharing — Nozbe has a very easy, useful sharing feature.  You can simply share a project with someone else (or multiple people) and everyone has full access to it.  You can assign tasks to others, view notes that everyone has left in the project, etc.  It works very well, and few other task systems have it.  Others over-complicate it or simply leave it out entirely.
  • Notes — You can add notes to a project, or even add notes to a task.  The project notes are great.  If someone sends me their FTP info, or their Constant Contact login, I just create a note within that project and drop the info in there.  If I ever need to get to it again, from any computer, it’s right there for me.
  • iPhone — They have a nice (free) iPhone app, as well as a mobile version that works for most phones.
  • JOTT — They integrate with JOTT, the very cool voice transcription service.  If I think of something when driving down the road, I can call JOTT, tell it “Nozbe”, then tell it the task.  It’ll be sitting in my Nozbe for me the next time I check it.
  • Google Calendar — You can export your calendar (task due dates) into iCal format, which can plug into Google Calendar.  I don’t use this feature very often, but I know that other people do.

While Nozbe certainly works best for me, your best bet would be to try a few of them and see what works best for you.  We all have slightly different systems for getting things done, so the perfect tool for one person might not be the perfect tool for someone else.

Getting your tasks in order can be very freeing.  Having a proper task system in place can help you handle your email much more easily, allowing you to convert an email into a task and then remove the email from your inbox.

What task system do you like to use?

This is the seventh in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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