Analogue v Digital 3. - Task Management

Posted by Stuart Lennon on

Who can resist a bit of productivity? It's the Holy Grail of the 21st century.

Whether it be David Allen's Get Things Done methodology or a variation thereof, everybody has a system. I have several. There's nothing more productive than working on productivity, right?

OK - my tongue is in my cheek, I'm almost certainly the most guilty. It used to bother me, until I re-framed things. The quest for productivity is one of my hobbies. Like golf. Now, I don't feel guilty about playing with apps designed to make me more efficient. A large part of productivity is task management.

The Digital

I shudder to think how many task manager apps I have purchased. Some examples:

Omnifocus. If managing my own 8 hours a day is the walnut, this is the sledgehammer. "Fresh and familiar design for the trusted, gold standard to-do app." Get them. Yours for $100 a year. (Cross-Apple fee) Most reviews will casually mention "a learning curve." That's affinity-marketing speak for "block two weeks on your calendar, this thing is impenetrable."

ToDoist. "Free up your mental space. Regain clarity and calmness by getting all those tasks out of your head and onto your to-do list." Quickly. Off you go. There's a free version, but should this be your silver bullet, you are going to want to upgrade to Premium for $3 a month. Somebody looked at Omnifocus, cut out the 75% that nobody understands, and painted everything white. I think Jonny Ive would prefer ToDoist.

Things. "Things is the award-winning personal task manager that helps you achieve your goals." Go you! $50 for Mac. $10 for your iPhone and Watch and then $20 for your iPad. It can be as complex as Omnifocus or as simple as a To Do list.

Currently, I am playing with Moleskine Journey. "Designed for creatives minds (sic), independent workers, audacious backpackers, and free spirits, Moleskine Journey is the first app that blends productivity with wellness tracking features to help you get stuff done and find inner balance every day." I feel windswept and interesting already.

Honestly, I could continue for pages and pages. I have tried many, many task manager apps.

Occasionally however, I have to be productive.

The Analogue

Write down the tasks. Do the tasks. Tick them off.

I have written elsewhere how I use notebooks. There's plenty of scope to bury myself in "productivitying" with paper, but I tend not to. I spend ten minutes to write a list. Five minutes to prioritise and then I get working. When a task is complete, I pick up a pen, tick the item and go again. As the day proceeds, the ticked items act as a pat on the back.

I task manage in my desk books, and my pocket books. My current favourite on the desk is the Endless Recorder, where the Tomoe River paper allows me to use fountain pens. In my pocket, there currently lives a Moleskine softcover, dotted notebook, but I use all sorts of pocket notebooks.

Task Manager

The Winner

Doh! The analogue, obviously. The digital is great fun, a lovely distraction. Sort of Twitter with less hysteria.

But to get things done? Get your notebook out.





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2 comments

  • I use Things to keep track of all the projects and all the many things that could use doing. I use a Hobonichi Weeks and 3×5 cards to make a plan for the week and the day.

    LJD on
  • I’ve gone back to basics with digital task lists. I just use the one built in to Apple Mac OS and iOS. It works… and of course my paper planner for everything else.

    Whenever I have tried to discuss digital task managers with anyone they become very defensive of the one they use/pay some sort of subscription for. The costs of these things can mount quite significantly if you are using them on your mobile devices as well as a desktop/laptop. Hence why I went back to basics!

    Steve on

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