Effort management, part 1.

I’m not a Getting Things Done goon or a Zen Habits zealot. Last semester though, I used my Google Calendar and iCal (they’re very easy to sync with Calaboration) to help keep track of my assignments. Before that, I’d gotten by just fine by making mental notes, except for some cheap agendas my middle school forcefed us. So, it was my first real baby step into the world of using tools and strategies to manage time and work, and it surprised me that I liked it.

That’s not exactly what calendars were designed for though, and I don’t think I’d ever want to live according to a productivity dogma like some people choose to.

That said, there are programs that are designed specifically to make time management easier. They’re like self-organizing to-do lists, and the most important thing about them is that they have to save you more effort than you would spend without them, or else there’s no point. They must be mindlessly simple, trivially fast to use, and they have to actually be helpful even for the most casual users.

In short, they should enable people to be lazier without anybody else noticing. It’s as much about effort management as it is about time management if you ask me.

Since I enjoy experimenting with new programs, I’ve decided to demo several such programs. Here’s what I’ll be looking at:

  1. OmniFocus (Mac, iPhone) – The old guard, beloved by many and famously used by lots of professionals.
  2. Things (Mac, iPhone) – The most famous challenger to OmniFocus, which also has a huge following.
  3. Process (Mac) – Another nice looking commercially developed task manager made famous by appearing on MacHeist
  4. The Hit List (Mac) – This one is so new, it’s not even out yet technically. You’ll have to use the beta for now. But it’s starting to get some attention.
  5. Inbox (Mac) – This product is clearly designed with the whole GTD method in mind, not just the to-do list part. And interestingly, it’s also clearly inspired a little bit by iTunes.
  6. Remember The Milk (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Web) – It’s a web site, but it uses Google Gears to work by itself offline, and they also have an actual iPhone app.
  7. Listo (Windows, Mac, Linux) – A portable free and open source endeavor by a small team of friends, with an iPhone app promised for the future.
  8. Evernote (Windows, Mac, iPhone, Windows Mobile) – Not designed specifically for task management, but also can do much more and is very easy to use for that purpose anyway.

If there are any more worth considering, then let me know and I’ll add it. The requirements are that it has to work offline as a standalone program, and it has to be Mac friendly (or if it’s made for Unix or Linux, that’s okay as long as it’s available through Fink or easily compiled from source on a Mac).

I’ll let you know what I think after playing around with them. In the meantime, play around with them yourself, and then we’ll be able to compare our conclusions later.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 at 1:32 am and is filed under All Entries, My Life, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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