I have always had a hankering to be more organised and my attempts at using technology to achieve this have, by and large, been memorable failures.
I subscribed to Remember The Milk premium to enable better synchronisation with my smartphone and dabbled with Toodledo because it synchronised with Pocket Informant, but both have now been binned thanks to Any.DO. To make a terrible pun of this Anything Toodledo can do Any.DO can do better as far as I am concerned.
Life Plan Crap
I think one reason why previous attempts at task management have failed is that I have tried to complicate matters by bringing in elements of GTD (Getting Things Done). Remember The Milk was pretty good but didn’t sync with Pocket Informant so I dumped that and launched myself into Toodledo and got hypnotised by the various functionality within it for things like goals, folders, contexts but to be honest I live a fairly simple and sedentary life and I didn’t need all this extended life plan crap.
An article on Any.DO on LifeHacker caught my eye and being a sad geek I downloaded it and to be honest I was stunningly underwhelmed. OK, it had an attractive, Zen Minimalist interface and if I waved the phone around like a demented cheerleader it cleared all the completed tasks but it didn’t give me the ability to drill down 25 levels of child folders to decide which colour socks I ought to wear today! So Any.DO got deleted. Briefly.
As mentioned before I don’t exactly have a complex and complicated life and my life plan is little more than trying to ensure I make it from one birthday to the next! So why the hell was I trying to introduce a level of complexity that (1) wasn’t there and (2) I didn’t need? I had previously ignored Google Tasks because of its relatively simplicity but, thinking about it, having one basic category would be sufficient.
Introducing a task such as “Arrange Team Meeting” doesn’t necessitate me having to create a day job folder because it’s pretty obvious that it is work related. Similarly tasking Drinks With Paul and Jessica next Friday at 7pm is personal; it ain’t work related, it doesn’t need a life plan, it doesn’t need a context.
And here’s a weird thing – by recognising I need simplicity not complexity I am more proactive in tasking and creating to do lists because it is so straightforward and doesn’t need half an hour’s analysis to implement.
Thank You Any.DO
So I owe a big thank you to Any.DO for short circuiting my brain and making me realise that being organised is simple. So what does Any.DO do?
Inputting tasks can be done by keyboard or voice. I haven’t greatly used the voice input method in Android but was pleasantly surprised at its accuracy. Once the task is created you can then go into more detail such as priority, choice of folder, add reminders and notes, plus share tasks with people in your contact list. Some people may be put off by the fact that filling out the task is a two part job, but not all tasks need anything more than to jog your memory.
Newly created tasks are automatically placed in the today section but using drag n drop can be placed under tomorrow, this week or later. Finished tasks are cleared by swiping your finger from left to right across the task; cleared tasks can be brought back to life by swiping from right to left. Completed tasks can be completely removed from the screen by simply shaking your device.
Syncing Google Tasks
Tasks created in Google Calendar are easily synchronised by hitting the sync button. For some reason I get an error message when I do this but the tasks are transferred so I won’t be losing any sleep over this. You can arrange how tasks are displayed on your device by date, folder or priority.
Tasks can also be timed by setting an alarm facility which allows you to choose the day, time and five, 10 or 15 minutes before the task is due to be actioned. Any.DO also allows you to repeat alarms one a day, weekly or monthly.