...

Menu Close

Category: TaskPaper

The Benefits of Occasionally Switching Task Management Apps

Geeks love trying shiny new toys. For me that love extends to experimenting with new task management apps. Over the past year I’ve switched task management apps twice – once temporarily, and once for good (for now). About six months ago I switched from OmniFocus to TaskPaper, before eventually switching back. Most recently, I’ve switched from OmniFocus to Things, and it looks like that one will stick. I discovered a few benefits in that exploration.

You rethink how you do things

In the brief time I spent with TaskPaper, I discovered how much I enjoyed its simplicity, and how I was more efficient in digesting what needed to get done. There was just something appealing about its simple list view, with headings and indented entries.

My use of TaskPaper helped me realize that as much as OmniFocus was much more complicated, I could replicate that list view with a custom perspective. My custom perspective listed all my important contexts, with tasks (or next actions) below each context.

The list was long, but still scannable. For my type of work, that was better than wrangling with a custom context that (hopefully) surfaced the actions that were important for me. It also worked better (again, for me, in my line of work) than diving into specific projects to perform actions of my choosing, since my work isn’t project based.

You learn what is important

My dalliance with TaskPaper got me primed for switching to Things. First, it made me realize I value simplicity. I was ready for a tool that didn’t require as much fiddling as OmniFocus.

It also made me realize how important easy capture was in a system. The ability to capture actions and tasks from just about anywhere is one of the strengths of OmniFocus. I came up with several workarounds to capture items into TaskPaper, but there was still friction involved.

You clean out the cruft

A regular review process is supposed to help you clear items out of your system that should no longer be there. That doesn’t always happen, though. Over time, your task management app can get bloated with tasks and projects you’ll never touch.

Each time I switched systems, I forced myself to take a long, hard look at my projects and actions, and decide whether an item really needed to come over to the new system. I started lean and mean, but knowing full well that task creep would set in soon.

It’s fun

Yes, the primary purpose of any task management system is to help you get things done. But, as a I suggested at the start of this post, geeks often like trying out new toys. I found this to be the case with both TaskPaper and Things.

That spark of fun also translated into a burst of productivity. Instead of slowing down while I learned a new system, I found myself reinvigorated and getting more work done.

In a perfect world I’d find an app and stick with it. I hope Things is it, but I’m a realist and know I’ll always be tempted by the next big thing.


Airmail to TaskPaper

I’m currently trying out TaskPaper as my task manager of choice, after almost five years with OmniFocus. More on that in the future, but for now don’t read too much into this – OmniFocus is a great app, and if it works for you, I don’t recommend switching.

TaskPaper has many strengths (again, more on that in the future), but one weakness is its lack of integration with third party apps when it comes to capturing tasks. On iOS, for example, native TaskPaper integration isn’t built into any email apps. There is a thread in the TaskPaper forums that points to a workflow, using the iOS Workflow app, to get Airmail email links into TaskPaper. I couldn’t get that working, though.

Instead, I stumbled upon a thread with instructions on how to get items from the Reminders app into TaskPaper (scroll down in the thread for the script). I set the JavaScript in that thread up on my Mac, and have Keyboard Maestro run the script every 10 minutes. That script slurps anything that appears in a designated list in Reminders into TaskPaper. Of course, for this to work, you’ll need to make sure you have Reminders syncing between your Mac and your iOS device.

Suddenly, TaskPaper is WAY more functional for me. I can use any iOS or Mac app that supports Reminders to get tasks into TaskPaper. One of those is Airmail, and the task contains a link back to the mail message.

More to come on how I’m using this Reminders integration to open up all sorts of possibilities with TaskPaper.