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Exploring Task Management Approaches


Task management and your approach to task management very much depends on the importance a system is to you. Task management might be as simple as your sole use of your memory to remind you of what you need to do and some people have incredible memories and this works for them.

However, for most people, this kind of technique is fraught with problems which can induce a lot of stress. Typically, if there is stuff you need to do, it’s nice to know you have a system in place that works for you to ensure you get what you need to do done.

As Simple as a Reminder to a full Fledged Task Manager

Apple includes in their lOS and OSX products a simple, but highly effective Reminders tool named Reminder. Here you simply record what you have to do for today or for however far out you need it to a series of things that need to be done. There are some who swear by this tool in terms its simplicity but ability to remind you at the time of something that need be done.

Full Fledged Task Management System

From the Reminders tool we can move right along to full fledged systems that are based on a methodogical approach. These systems can be either complex or in many ways simple but it is not this that is important but rather the success one has with any tool that provides value.

In this article, what I’d like to discuss is the more sophisticated systems and how these can do more good than harm in our challenge to get control over what can appear, at times, a touch daunting. However, since I written a lot in the past about Task Management tools I won’t repeat this material specifically here.

GTD Systems Only

In this article, as opposed to looking at the benefits of the simpler vs the more advanced approaches, I’m going to be looking at fairly substantive systems as opposed to those that aren’t. For the purposes of the discussion, I want to explore what is an evolving trend from that of a sophisticated yet contained system running on a specific platform to that of a sophisticated yet cross platform approach.

Both systems have their benefits however, a cross platform approach certainly wouldn’t be necessary if you were living in a Windows or Mac only mode.

It is worth while to define the difference between the two systems at a very macro level as task management, more than many things, lends itself extremely very well to openness. Even if you consider that you are the only user of the system if you start out feeling that say the iPhone will forever and a day provide you with all the value you need or want then you’re a step ahead.

However, this is very unlikely whereas it is more than likely you’ll change hardware platforms at some point, even if it was just of a temporary nature to get at your information. If the system is closed and all that is available is not an iphone you’ll be stuck getting your info. The day of the closed system or platorm dependent system is rapidly drawing to a close.

The reason for this is likely the power of the cloud. The cloud is enabling the portability of information. Once portable, that information needs a piece of hardware that can run it. The end result of this though is freedom from the the inabili^ to get your information and whenyou want it***. To look at it another way, a closed system tends to be platform dependent where an open system is platform independent. In the first situation, it might mean finding say an iPhone to be able to view your info whereas in the second case it might be as simple as using a BlackBeriy to view your information when wd where you want it. It is clear that the second situation is far more liberating than the first. The first ensures that you have ball and chained yourself to your information whereas in the second something like a BlackBeriy might not only let you look.

The above scenario though is very much a software driven solution. It is necessary for your software, to be able to deliver the information to the device. There are solutions that are recognizing the importance and value of being able to see your information anywhere.

Task Management Solutions for the Apple World

First, let’s look at three GTD systems that are all considered excellent and very powerful yet they are closed systems. These systems are Mac only options. In Apple environment they have the advantage of being very powerful but they can only be run and worked on with Macs. This is hardly an ideal solution but none of these systems outwardly lacks benefits. They tend to be rich with features, functionality and a robustness that is hard to match with open systems. However, one might ask is it enough that the systems that are cross platform are easy to use while conforming to GTD. I think they are.

Since I’ve written somewhat extensively about the following three solutions I’ll just list them for reference and comparative value:

  • Omnifocus

  • Things

  • The Hit List

All of the above systems are known to best of breed and will do more than an adequate job managing your things that need doing. The difference in choice comes down to style or more importantly that which works best for you.

Cross Platform

The above applications all work very well within the Apple ecosystem. However, these best effectiveness can only be achieved when we are able to use different devices.

There is little question this is where we are headed. The technology has matured enough to enable this solution. More importantly, it is the ubiquity and power of cloud based systems that can fully enable this function.

In this category there are four cross platform systems that are powerful and effective and run on a variety of systems. They are:

  • Todoist
  • Conqu
  • Get it Done
  • TODO Cloud

All of these run on:

  • Windows
  • Blackberry
  • Android

The ability to do the above equally gives them their power.

It’s Becoming a Cross Platform World

As time passes more will be heading to function as a cross platform entity. There are many benefits to this and few downsides. Initially the problem will be making something as powerful and capable as can be handled in a single environment yet with the advances in technology this will be more than possible. In fact, it’s happening now.

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