I am an organizational freak, or at least I aspire to be. Periodically I search for and often try out new or different task, to do and project management systems to help me to manage my business and personal tasks. I've tried dozens of offerings since I switched from old fashioned real estate to Redfin and I've also switched my focus from contact management systems to task management systems. At Redfin, I work with a team and we have an internal system to collaborate with team members on the activities required for each home I list and sell but it's intentionally limited to that specific purpose and doesn't lend itself well to customization or incorporating other aspects of my business or personal task management. Many of the available options incorporate the ability to share tasks with others and currently that doesn't interest me, I prefer a single user product, although that certainly may change someday depending on what I happen to be doing in the future.
Personally, I schedule tasks for bills, groceries, articles I'd like to read, shows/movies I'd like to see or continue to watch, music I'd like to download or listen to and many other things. For business I schedule tasks to reschedule canceled appointments, things promised to people, things I'm waiting for from others, deadlines for contingencies and any email that requires an action of any kind.
The biggest benefit of any task management system is also the biggest danger. Having a system is perfect for sending and forgetting which frees up your mind to focus on the tasks at hand but it's also very easy to let items pile up and remain undone. Just because you've taken a step to address the task, (sending it to the system) that doesn't mean it can be permanently dismissed. Psychologically, you've sort of addressed the item but really, nothing has been accomplished. I think it's a good habit to review tasks at least every morning and at the end of each day.
The things that I look for in a task management system, in no particular order, are:
- A pleasant user experience with a drag and drop interface instead of having to click multiple times to accomplish scheduling, categorization, tagging and prioritizing tasks.
- Fast interface and synchronization on both computers and mobile devices
- Recurring tasks and integration with a preferred calendar
- Sub-tasks that can be scheduled and not just added under a main task as a simple and semi-useless checklist
- and I think the most important thing to me is having an email extension to quickly add, categorize and tag new tasks directly from email or websites that will also reference that email or website by directly linking from the task. I have stopped considering systems that don't offer an extension and no, I don't want to email the task to my task list, which is the solution offered by many task systems.
The systems that I seem to like the most are:
Todoist free or $28.99/year
GQueues free or $25/year.
Toodledo free, $14.99/year or $29.99/year
Trello free. This is a Kanban system which is pretty great.
Things 3 $9.99/iPhone, $19.99/iPad and $49.99/Mac. Unfortunately it's not available for Windows nor do they have an online app. Too bad because this one is pretty spectacular.
Nozbe always free for a maximum of 5 projects (not sufficient) but one of the few that gives you a free Pro account for 30 days to try before you buy to make sure you like it which is honorable and right. This is the one I'm currently using.
Finally, a brilliant iPhone and iPad app 2Do free for iOS and about $50 for Mac. I am anxiously awaiting the online version because by FAR... 2Do lends itself best to my work habits. Even though I would truly like to be a Mac person, I use Windows. An online version that's as fast as the others is going to be huge for me and I will immediately abandoned whatever I'm using the moment it's offered, provided it feels like the iOS version.
Redfin Listing Specialist in Northern VA