Mark tasks for follow-up
July 9, 2009 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a To Do list manager for the Mac that allows easy marking for follow up. iPhone integration a big plus.

I'm the president of a relatively large and active organization on my university campus, and delegation is a big part of my work. Although this makes things a lot easier for me, it creates the problem of not knowing whether delegated tasks actually got completed.

I was wondering if the hive mind could help me find a to do list manager that, in addition to the normal "Check when completed" box, has an option along the lines of "Follow-up in __ days."

For example, let's say I have a task that says, "Ask Jim to call Habitat for Humanity." As it is now, I would have to check it off once I've done that, then create a task due in 2 days that reminds me to follow up with Jim. What I would like is an option to automatically create a follow-up task.

I'm running the latest version of Leopard. I don't have an iPhone yet, but I'm planning on getting a 3GS in the near future and I would love any app to integrate with that well. I would prefer local software (not webapps), but any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your help!
posted by dondiego87 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It may be massive overkill for your purpose, but I really like OmniFocus. Syncs using MobileMe (or your own server) and has an iPhone app.
posted by brain at 7:18 AM on July 9, 2009

I don't know of any apps that will do that for you using in-app features, but you could definitely do that in AppleScript. Both OmniFocus and Things have more than enough AppleScript support as well as iPhone apps that sync with your desktop.

I use OmniFocus and think it's a great piece of software, though it's expensive- $80 for the desktop license + $20 for the iPhone app. If you're at all a fan of GTD, it's more in line with that philosophy. Personally, I think the license is more expensive than it needs to be for that category of software (I paid $40 as an early user). Things is $50 + $10 for the iPhone, and looks purdy, but I haven't used it. It's gotten great reviews.

Your script, btw, needn't be more complicated than "copy the selected to-do, set due date to today + 2, prepend "Follow-up:" to title".
posted by mkultra at 7:22 AM on July 9, 2009

I keep trying to love these task manager apps, but they never really quite gel, with me anyway. (I probably just get a kick out of crossing something off a list with pen and paper.) However, the one app I stuck with longest and still use on occasion is EasyTask; it does have iPhone intergration.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:08 AM on July 9, 2009

OmniFocus isn't for everyone, but it sounds very well suited to what you need.

[My wife used to work at Omni and I'm buddies with several people there, including one of my best friends, the designer of OmniFocus]

I seem to have the same conversation with everyone about gtd when they see me using omnifocus. First, they ask if it's worth it. For people who "just want a simple list", I tell them no. Regardless, everyone goes and tries it out. And then everyone tells me later "it just does too much. I'm trying another app and it's enough for my needs."

It is fascinating to me how consistent this process is across dozens of people I've discussed this with.

But then a little while later, the people with complex lists always swing by and say "you know, taskpaper/things/a piece of paper was easier for a while, but it didn't scale. I'm trying OmniFocus again and I think I grok it better now."

Focus is powerful for two reasons I think you'll appreciate: "review" mode and the ability to save "perspectives" to slice and dice your data in any way, not just in the "today, "pick a day" and "someday" buckets that a lot of apps do.

I recommend watching the screencasts. It's a little daunting if you dive in without getting a little tour. If you like it, I believe there's a 30 day trial.
posted by jragon at 8:44 AM on July 9, 2009

Chandler is pretty good. It's free, too.
posted by cmiller at 9:54 AM on July 9, 2009

Here are the "major" GTD focused task managers on the Mac that I'm aware of:
- OmniFocus ($70 for the Mac app plus $20 for the iPhone App -- local wifi, webdav & mobleme syncing)
- Things ($49 for the Mac app plus $10 for the iPhone app -- local wifi syncing only)
- Remember the Milk (free web app, free iphone app but as I understand it you really need to upgrade to the $25 per year pro account to make use of the iPhone app )
- Midnight Inbox ($35 for Mac app, iPhone companion app promised to be coming soon)
- The Hit List ($49 for Mac app, iPhone app promised to coming at some point)

I think any of them could handle the scenario you give, but they all have slightly different nuances in terms of how they do it, and their integration methods for things like your email & calendar, and the way they handle reminders. I don't think any one is better than any other in a neutral sense, but you may find that one of them is more suited to your working style than the others.

I personally use Things, and find that (when combined with some apple scripts that make getting emails from into Things easy) it offers the right balance between simplicity and power features for what I want to do with it. But I've tried and used both OmniFocus and RTM as well, and they both had their advantages (I really liked the webdav syncing on OmniFocus for example) and in the end it's just a personal choice -- no one app is right for everyone.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 12:53 PM on July 9, 2009

Thank you all for the suggestions! I think I'm leaning towards the suggestion of @mkultra, which is to try doing this via AppleScript. I currently have a copy of The Hit List (purchased via a MacHeist bundle), which has some AppleScript integration. I've got a question out to the Hit List Users Group ( and I'm hoping that someone there can make the script for me. If not, it may be worth it learning some Applescript myself finally ;-).

Thanks again to everybody.
posted by dondiego87 at 5:33 PM on July 9, 2009

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