If you’re a lawyer, writer, or student, or work in any other profession that needs to digest dates visually, a timeline tool can be indispensable. I’ve found Aeon Timeline on the Mac to be fantastic and was vaguely aware that an iOS version was in development. This morning I awoke to an email announcing that Aeon Timeline for iOS is now available.
A simple change in scenery can do wonders for productivity. For me that sometimes means sitting in a recliner in the corner of my office, using my MacBook and my office phone headset to make and receive calls. That’s possible because my firm’s VOIP phone service, Mitel, offers a Mac app that lets me trigger outgoing calls on my office phone. As long as I have my MacBook and telephone headset with me, my actual telephone unit can be across the office.
This process doesn’t work if I want to use my iPad to initiate calls. The Mitel iOS app won’t trigger calls on another device, such as my office phone. Not to be deterred, I put together a workflow to accomplish this. It sounds much more complicated (and much slower) than it really is.
I’m a big fan of the work of David Sparks of MacSparky and the Mac Power Users Podcast. He’s recently written a few posts on what he has called “hyper-scheduling.” The CliffsNotes version of hyper-scheduling is that David blocks off time in his calendar for performing certain tasks. Jeff Perry of the Tablet Habit does this too, calling it Time Blocking.
My job isn’t suited for the scheduling of specific times during the day for performing certain tasks. I’m faced with too many unavoidable interruptions and too many tasks that arise suddenly and need to be handled on short notice. As much as I’d love to go into “do not disturb” mode to churn through work, there are too many downsides of this for me on most days in my line of work.
Despite these roadblocks, I do have a general idea how much time I’ll have each day for churning through my task list. I just don’t know exactly when during the day that time will fall. Enter Things.
With its “Today” and “Upcoming” views, Things makes it easy to schedule my tasks for certain dates. I set an item’s start date, and it appears in the view for that day. 1 During my weekly review, which usually occurs on Friday, I plan out my next week. I go through my actions and tasks and decide what I want to get done on each day of the upcoming week. When a particular day arrives, my task list for the day is waiting for me.
This isn’t for everyone. Some people work better diving into their projects each day, and picking from their tasks or next actions. That became too overwhelming for me, which is one of the reasons I switched to Things. I wanted a tool that would not only help me organize my tasks, but would help me do them as well by bringing them to me on certain days. Things does that for me by allowing me to schedule them.
OmniFocus supports start dates as well, and you can view a schedule in Forecast view, but items that aren’t completed on their start date fall off of the Forecast. It remains to be seen whether the new version of OmniFocus will change this. ↩
If you’ve visited 40Tech lately you’ve seen several posts on Things, which is now my task management app of choice. My switch to Things surprised me. For a few years, I was an OmniFocus snob. I fancied myself a power user, and thought other task management apps were somehow inferior because they didn’t have the level of power offered by OmniFocus.