Simple task management

4 minute read

I’ve tinkered with the way I keep track of my tasks and projects quite a lot over the years, the last time I wrote about it over a year ago I was chasing too much complexity. I had forgotten that a system should be simple and should get out of the way of getting things done stuff completed.

Although I did make an attempt to go back to paper I’ve realised it’s just not for me. It became ephemeral where I needed stability. It has it’s place but not at the centre, I can’t keep it tidy enough and it became a distraction.

New Hardware

Tools are great but you don’t need 100 hammers (I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land) or 99 red spoons. Keep it simple, stupid. My main tools have changed a little they are:

  • iPhone 5S 32GB - with me everywhere I go
  • New MacBook Pro (MBP) Retina 13” - with me nearly everywhere I go While I still have an iMac at home it has been relegated to a media server, it was bought in 2007 so I’m still surprised it runs as well as it does. The iPad I rarely have with me but when I do it’s just for reading, I actually forgot it today so I’ll see if I can do that on my Mac instead. The change in hardware has prompted a change in the way I’m going to do things. I got the MBP because I need to do more software and application development outside my current job as I’m not going to be in that job for much longer. There’s only so long you bang your head off IT restrictions and outdated software before you decided enough is enough.

(Some) New Software

Software does help but it’s very easy to pickup a swiss army knife when all you need is a chopstick and you can do a lot with a humble chopstick. Keep it simple, stupid. With that in mind I’d decided the taskpaper format is what is I need, it’s worth noting this doesn’t restrict me to the taskpaper app. What are the main tools I’ll be using then? *Taskpaper (OSX)

*DropBox (iOS and OSX)

*Editorial (iOS)

*Fantastical (iOS and OSX)

*Reminders (iOS and OSX)

*Trello (iOS and Web) I think I’ll go something like this: *End projects/tasks/notes in Taskpaper or in Editorial *Synced using DropBox.

*Convert tasks into appointment or reminders using Fantastical

*Close off items in Taskpaper or Fantastical

*For more complex or collaborative projects I’ll use Trello but track the projects at a high level in Taskpaper ##Supporting Tools

I’ve built up a toolbox over the years and I’m sure I’ll still make use of them *FoldingText (OSX) - version 2 is pretty nice and I’m using it write this post. I expect to use it more as it continues to be developed.

*iThoughts (iOS) - a great mind mapping app and now universal on iPhone and iPad

*AnyList (iOS) - Despite the name it’s main strength is for grocery type lists

*DashPlus (iOS) - I’ve used it as my main task management app since it was released but I can’t save the data or get it on my Mac easily so it doesn’t fit right now

*Day One (iOS) - I made an effort to use Day One to keep track of reviews and use writing it in to help me understand what went well and badly, I hope to incorporate this again. ##Taskpaper Setup

The taskpaper format is a really simple plain text format for tracking projects and tasks. To create a project just put a colon (:) after the word, a task start with a minus (-) and anything else is a note. You include tabs or space to indent projects so create a document hierarchy and you can use tags to organise your tasks and projects. There are also a lot of time saving shortcuts and scripts which I’ll be avoiding as they can easily turn into a time sink for me. Right now I’m aiming to keep it as simple as possible I’ll have 3 taskpaper files: *Inbox

*Work

*Personal In Work and Personal there will also be an Inbox project. If a project is starting to have lot of sub projects and becoming more complex only then will I consider creating another file to keep track of it. ##Missing links

There are a few things I’ve not yet thought of the best way to do. The main ones are deferred, on hold, delegated or reviews. I will look at these and will most likely employ some tags to help with it. It’s also worth noting I took a lot inspiration from Macdrifter’s posts on the subject 1 2 although I see his setup as more complex that I’d like. I think it’s much simpler and I hope to continue to simplify. Keep it simple, stupid.

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