“Let’s put it on the Internet!”
“No, we have to reach people whose opinions actually matter.”
I should probably write this in my Ark of Ideas Blog (the last posting was ages ago), but it is closely related to this blog.
I’m currently thinking about programming a task management app. On the one hand, I think this is a very bad idea, not only because this Dilbert comic and this one both have a point, but also because my programming skills are mediocre (I’m a psychologist, not a programmer).
On the other hand, I think that most task management programs are lacking in one respect: The show what you have to do, but not what you have ToDo Today.
Personally, I love OmniFocus, but the (probably) best app for me would look slightly different. The main screen would be a “ToDo Today” screen, tightly integrated with the calendar:
The App would have the following features:
- A very good sync feature with an easily available sync button.
- You have the usual tables with projects and deadlines, etc.
- A Gantt Chart like view (timeline view) of all the projects themselves (high level goals, not really the tasks itself). Also has alarms and shows where progress is lacking.
- Each task is assigned to one project.
- A daily ritual view (idea from idea from asianefficiency.com) which shows you your goals for the month and the year, the appointments today (calendar), the things you wait for, the inbox, and asks you to select the most important tasks that you can do today. This is shown once each day — not as a recurring task.
ToDo Today View
What makes the App different is a ToDo Today view.
- Each task on the ToDo Today screen has two buttons not normally found in a task management App:
- move to tomorrow (idea from the “Do it tomorrow” app) or move to next work day (depending on whether this is a private or work task, manual override possible)
- return task to project (if you realize cannot do it today, you can put it back where it belongs)
- Tasks that are done are removed/crossed out in the project and ToDo Today view, but they stay there until you hit clear (moved to the end of the list). Reason being that I find it demotivating never to see the tasks I did do and only see the remaining tasks of a given day.
- Easy resorting of tasks.
- Tasks not done after the end of the day (trigger starts at midnight or time manually set, if no input is done for two hours it counts as end of the day, calendar appointments override this setting) are automatically put back into the projects.
- Switch selecting between private and work tasks (projects are tagged either as private or work, all tasks inherit this tag).
There should also be additional features in the App:
- Reminders, e.g., to do the worst tasks first, only use tasks that can be done within a day, only use specific tasks, etc.
- Pseudo-intelligence that recognizes when tasks were not done repeatedly and asks whether they should be removed from ToDo Today or whether they should be deleted.
- Pseudo-intelligence warns when you have not completed all tasks for the day repeatedly and asks you to select fewer tasks.
- Tasks can become active at a given time and be moved to the ToDo Today view. Quick selection of the day via a calendar view and time via a slider (the selector normally used is way to tedious).
- Someday/maybe list with requesting review after x days/months/years.
- What did I do? Overview — shows either chronologically or on project basis what was done when.
Regarding the style, there is this nice idea of the “EpicWin” todo app — why shouldn’t there be some game characteristics involved in a task management App? I wouldn’t make a role-playing game out of it, but nice sounds (think Star Trek), Avatars (think the characters of “Ghost in the Shell”) — could be nice. Some default texts and modules you can add to. Your virtual secretary reacting on how well you do your tasks (getting angry if you do not do most tasks, becoming more professional if you do more work tasks than private tasks, becoming more relaxed if you do more private tasks than work tasks — or vice versa; btw, Apple, I’m still waiting on my Knowledge Navigator), etc. pp. There are many ways to make the app more … pleasurable and less like a bad conscience (most of all to actually do the tasks and enjoy being effective, after all, it does not matter that much how you organize your task, just that you do it and the tasks continuously).
So, what now?
I am not sure what to do next — either find out whether I can maintain this workflow with OmniFocus, or program my own task management App … hmm, or find someone who wants to program it …