where do i find a to-do list app that will plan my time for me?
August 27, 2014 3:05 PM   Subscribe

I am in love with the concept behind the web app Taskk.it, a to-do list/time management tool that schedules your tasks and creates a daily/weekly agenda for you. But it seems to be an abandoned project and is too buggy to use. Please help me find another solution!

Taskk.it works like so: I put in my to-do list, along with a time estimate for each item and a deadline if there is one (and also, if relevant, a start date or a date on which it must happen, recurrence, etc.), and sort my items and my lists (projects) by priority. Then I tell Taskk how many hours I have available each day, and it automatically fills in those hours with tasks, planning ahead for as many days as it takes until all the items are done.

I LOVE seeing when everything is scheduled for and will be completed by (so now that errand I've been putting off for months is on the calendar for next Friday) without my having to invent arbitrary deadlines. I LOVE being told what to do on a given day, knowing that as long as my estimates are correct (they're usually pretty close) I will only have X hours of work to do, and feeling like I can safely stop working when I accomplish those tasks. I love that Taskk breaks up my long important projects and puts in a few short, lower-priority tasks into each day, which I'd otherwise never get to.

Unfortunately, sometimes the priority order of my tasks gets reshuffled for no apparent reason, and sometimes tasks get scheduled PAST their deadlines. These issues mean I can't trust Taskk and it's actually useless. The last update to the blog was over a year ago and my questions to the team have gone unanswered, so I don't have a lot of hope.

I feel like I've looked at every to-do list app out there and found nothing like this. Toodledo comes closest, in that it will tell you how to spend your next X hours if you ask it to, but it doesn't plan your next two weeks or show you when you will be able to do any given thing on your list.

Is there any other way I can have my available time automatically filled with my tasks, based on priority, deadlines and the amount of time I have available, until every task has a home? (I am not a programmer.)

If it matters, I generally have 2-3 large projects at a time that will take ~20 hours of work each and have deadlines within the coming month (copyediting, so I just start at the start and go till the end, not worth it to me to break these projects down into smaller tasks), and then a couple dozen 15- to 25-minute tasks related to side projects, personal stuff, career development, errands, etc., that have no particular deadline.

I should note that I haven't looked extensively at mobile-only apps, because I'm not very comfortable with text entry on small objects and I want to be able to see my to-do list and schedule on a huge computer screen, but if there's something I'm missing, I could compromise. Also potentially relevant: I freelance from home, don't need to collaborate or delegate tasks to anyone, would like but don't need Gmail integration, and don't really like the urgent/important model of prioritization. (Also OMG I can't believe how much time I've already put into researching how to manage my time! A .txt file has always been fine till now, but the scheduling thing is a potential life-changer because I am horrible with prioritization, time management, and focus.)
posted by nevers to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
(Yikes! 18 favorites and no answers? I'm nervous.)

Have you looked at Timeful?

I haven't used it, so I can't recommend it from personal experience. I just remembered reading about it and thinking that it sounded cool. You seem to have a lot of specific requirements and I guess that this suggestion is probably a long shot, but Timeful is certainly designed with your general problem in mind. Its design is led by a behavioral economist and "a team of scientists and engineers" so maybe it'll be okay even if it isn't exactly what you have in mind now.

Also, it's mobile and only iOS to boot, so... sorry. But, it "syncs with Google Calendar," so I assume you'll be able to view your calendar on your huge computer screen. I'm less confident that you'll be able to control you calendar and task list from your computer. I also figure it should be easy to jerry-rig some sort of gmail integration since Timeful goes as far as getting everything into Calendar.
posted by stuart_s at 10:30 PM on August 27, 2014

I use Timeful, it's great. There's a limited web beta for adding tasks, which promises to expand in functionality. The algorithm that suggests time to complete work is also pretty smart. It's free, so it's worth a punt.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:33 AM on August 28, 2014

Response by poster: Sadly, my iPod touch doesn't run the necessary iOS 7 for Timeful, so I'll have to wait for the Android version, but thank you for the (lone!) suggestion. In the meantime, I'm using Toodledo, and its scheduler is OK, but I don't trust it to book me enough hours of my big tasks to meet upcoming deadlines.
posted by nevers at 11:26 AM on September 2, 2014

ZenDay might do what you want. I've used it for Android and don't know how the iOS version compares. It takes a little getting used to, but the floating task feature is helpful once you've got the hang of it. It syncs with both Google Calendar and Exchange and probably other scheduling apps as well, and--at least on Android--there's an extension you can purchase that allows you to sync with Google Tasks.

One thing that frustrated me a little was that people really wanted a way to sync across platforms, something that apps connected with online accounts allow one to do. They finally introduced it, but they're charging for it. (It looks as if the price has dropped, though--at first it was an outrageous $9.99/month, but I see it's now down to $2.90, which is somewhat more reasonable.)
posted by tully_monster at 11:05 AM on September 4, 2014

TimeTo by David Berman is the best thing I've ever used. Tasks can be entered with time estimates and rough (or specific) priorities, can be specified to be done within or outside of work hours, and can even be marked as splittable or not.

I have a few struggles with it: it's Windows only, it hasn't been updated in years, it's ugly, and I never could get the Outlook sync to work correctly.

But wow, is it powerful!

There's a hacky way to make it capture tasks entered from your phone (although I know you're not interested in this). If you use an app like Drafts (on iOS) to quickly capture a snippet of text and save it in a specific Dropbox folder, TimeTo can check that specific folder every minute and import a task from that .txt file.

This whole concept (look at my calendar and my tasks, tell me what I should do before my next appointment, let me know when there's no way I can meet a deadline) is incredibly powerful. It's a shame it's not a more highly-developed feature set in task management and calendar apps.
posted by bradmccormick at 7:32 PM on October 13, 2014

Response by poster: So, Zenday does what I was hoping for, but I just didn't feel comfortable not being able to access my task list from my computer, and I couldn't get used to the scrolling Star Wars-esque layout.

I've been using TimeTo, and it is indeed powerful and ugly. It works pretty well but I just don't love it enough to pay $67 for it, and my free trial's run out.
posted by nevers at 8:44 PM on January 7, 2015

nevers -- I really wish they had a desktop app, too. I bought the Google Tasks plugin and use that to create tasks in a few lists I specify to sync with ZenDay on my mobile apps. Sadly, it's not an ideal setup. And, yeah, the interface takes some getting used to. Looks like the ideal time management app is still out there somewhere...
posted by tully_monster at 11:03 AM on January 27, 2015

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