My Quest For The Elusive, Perfect Task Management System

17th February, 2010 in Emails 7 Comments

I’ve wasted hours and hours trying to find a perfect task management system. There are many task management systems out there, with Remember the Milk (RTM), Google Tasks and Todoist all coming to mind… but not a single one I have tried seem to have a crucial component which is email integration. Maybe it’s a bad time for me, I understand there are Google/Greasemonkey issues and also add-on issues with Firefox 3.6, both of which task manages use to integrate their systems into email, but the developers have had long enough to fix these known issues, so maybe they just aren’t good enough.

For someone who’s tasks mainly arrive in the form of emails, it is crucial that a task manager has the following features:-

  1. One click creation of a task from an email – I don’t want to have an email with all the data I need, to then have to click New Task and copy and paste the information from the email to the task. That defeats the object of using a task manager, which is to help time management. RTM states it can do this, although at the time or writing neither the GMail Gadget nor Firefox addon work for me.
  2. Separate Tasks from Email – I actually use GMail as my task manager at the moment and it works fantastically well using Superstars and Multiple Inboxes. There is one major flaw… because I have so much email coming in I can sometimes spend all day in email conversations without actually working on my tasks! Therefore your task list needs to be separate to your email, so you can work through tasks, and check your email only a few times a day. An important GTD philosophy!
  3. Tasks “Home Page” – Following on from above, even if not using GMail as a task manager, and using one of the GMail integrated gadgets that sit next to your email, such as RTM and Toodist provide (or Tasks in Outlook), you still have your email to distract you from your tasks. So a separate “home page” or task manager system that just shows your tasks is required, then you can close your email and Get Things Done.

Although there are of course many more features a task manager needs, the above points are crucial if you actually want to get things done, you need to separate email from tasks and to create tasks from emails easily, but seem to be a weakness in many of the systems I found.

With the above features you of course still need to have a labelling/tagging, prioritisation as well as target dates, mobile access such as from the iPhone, and reminders.

I hope I can find one soon because “I am wasting so much time trying to find a system to improve my time“!

Any ideas and comments welcome

Comments
Picture of Laurence Cope

Laurence Cope 2nd January, 2012 at 17:51 pm

Well, talk about coincidences… RTM Task Manager is now appearing in my GMail with Add to Tasks working! I think I will giv it a go. Although since writing the above I have also been using Todoist and managing to separate tasks from email.

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hc 2nd January, 2012 at 17:51 pm

You might want to checkout GQueues ( http://www.gqueues.com ), as it might be just what you’re looking for.



1. It has a separate “home page” to manage your tasks, but it fully integrates with your Google account (Google login, Calendar integration, sharing with Google Contacts)



2. It has a very easy to use bookmarklet that turns emails into tasks. The subject of the email becomes the task description and a link to the original email is automatically added to the notes of the task.



3. It has all the other features you’d expect from a good task manager – tagging, subtasks, drag and drop reordering, SMS reminders and mobile access.

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Denis 2nd January, 2012 at 17:52 pm

Did you know that in gmail you can create a task from an email? “More Actions” -> “Add to tasks”. Also you can paste several lines directly into tasks widget and each line becomes a separate task.



Google Tasks has separate interface without gmail: https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas?pli=1



You can reorder tasks for prioritization, and add due dates as well.



What Google Tasks doesn’t do is labels and reminders – while tasks show up in calendar they are not real calendar entries and so no reminders and no syncing to iPhone.



Speaking of the latter – I wrote an app that does sync Google Task to iPhone, it’s called GeeTasks.

Picture of Laurence Cope

Laurence Cope 2nd January, 2012 at 17:56 pm

@hc I did check GQueues out, but although I am a fan of Google tools, some of them are just too basic and treat you like a 5 year old! The GQueues interface has too much colour for me and does my head in :)

Picture of Laurence Cope

Laurence Cope 2nd January, 2012 at 17:56 pm

@Denis I didn’t realise Google Tasks has an standalone page so that is definately good news. BUT I have since started to use Todoist and although its missing some functions I would like, its interface is just what I like. I think it has a good balance bwteen similicity and colour coding. Not too much colour like GQueues, and not too little colour like RTM and Google Tasks.



I am always trying different task systems though to find the right one so thats for the info, may give it a go again.

Picture of Laurence Cope

Laurence Cope 2nd January, 2012 at 17:56 pm

Update: Have been using http://todoist.com/ for a while now, and so far so good. It is lacking in some areas, and I do not think it is being developed futher, but for it’s simplicity, speed, GMail integration and mobile access it’s fantastic. Better then Remember the Milk in my opinion.

Picture of Leslie Scott

Leslie Scott 8th August, 2013 at 8:02 am

have you ever given a try to Replicon task management software - http://www.replicon.co.uk/olp/task-management-software.aspx . This is the one I have been using in my office from a very long time and I have seen tremendous improvement in the productivity as because all the unproductive jobs which are to be taken proper care of is being taken care by this software. I hope this will be some what helpful to you as well.

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