A good task manager is an extremely important tool, and one that I rely on to pretend to keep my shit together. I change too often – from Things, to OmniFocus, to TaskPaper, to 2Do, Todoist, 2Doist, and back to 2Do. Each tool is fine until it isn't.
I become unhappy with every task manager I've ever used. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes it happens more slowly, but it always happens. Some design decision or functionality limitation just grates on me until I break. All of this is my fault. The fault is not with apps, the system, or the devs. My brain is broken.
I used Things for a long time. It was fantastic - one of the best designed apps available1. You may not know this, but Cultured Code has a great reason for the sub-glacial release schedule. They have to hand-craft each artisanal pixel in a pristine German factory. One pixel per day. No more. Sometimes less.
As my life became more complex, it outpaced Things' ability to keep me in line. On to OmniFocus.
I resisted moving to OmniFocus for a long time, even though I knew it was the right choice. It was obscenely complex. It had a killer learning curve that Things just didn't. It was fiddly. It was also extraordinarily powerful. It did a good job of helping me pretend to keep my shit together.
Over time, the complexity of OmniFocus wore me down. It was too hard to use. I was spending more time on meta work instead of real work. Additionally, I really wanted my task list on my work computer, which is a Windows PC. So I went to the extreme opposite of OmniFocus - TaskPaper.
That, predictably, was a mess. I had frequent sync issues that I couldn't pin down. Duplicate task files. No alerts at all. I still make short-term TaskPaper lists, and I still think in TaskPaper format, but I can't live my life that way.
Enter 2Do. I thought 2Do was the one. It was a revelation. It seemed to have the power of OmniFocus in a better looking, simpler package. There are a lot of great things I can say about 2Do, but I won't rehash them. The one thing I will say is that 2Do nails iOS. Editing multiple tasks on iOS is just as easy as it should be. It's great.
Once more, the urge to get my tasks on my Windows PC gnawed at me. So I tried an unholy combination of 2Do and Todoist - 2Doist. It failed the first time quickly. Back to 2Do. But I tried 2Doist once more. I held out longer, but when it failed, it failed spectacularly. The duct tape and popsicle sticks holding it together didn't stand a chance.
So, back to 2Do. It doesn't feel broken, but it doesn't feel right. Something is off.
I finally know what it is.
2Do has no concept of Sequential Projects or dependent tasks. I used the heck out of these in OmniFocus, and have missed them ever since. So here we are. (Almost) full circle. I painstakingly moved my absurdly complex task management system over to OmniFocus.
What is old is new again.
OmniFocus has replaced 2Do in the dock of my various iOS devices. 2Do has been relegated to a folder, no longer in use. I have folders, parallel projects, sequential projects, tasks and sub tasks, flagged tasks and unflagged tasks. I have multiple Perspectives set up to give me different views.
OmniFocus is still complex. It's still fiddly. There's still way too much metawork. I still don't like the app. But for the first time in months, I feel like I'm back on my way to pretending like I have my shit together.
The just-released Version 3 takes the best-in-world design to a new level. ↩