Personal project management app that supports subtasks well
November 26, 2021 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a personal project management app for tasks around the house/yard. I want to use it both for simple single tasks like "move the bookshelf into the office" and more complex, multi-step tasks like "improve the drainage on the west side" that involve steps like planning, buying supplies, and multiple installation steps.

I've been trying Trello for a few days because that's what several of my friends use for this but it really bothers me that it's not easy to model multi-step tasks easily and well. I want to be able to easily jump back and forth from a subtask to the main task and ideally see which subtasks belong to which main tasks when looking at all the tasks in the overview.

It will be used either by just me or me + partner.

Here are some features I'm interested in:
* Free or very cheap (e.g. $1-$2/mo) for personal use.
* Easy to quickly add new tasks via web browser and iOS.
* Easy to categorize tasks into long term, short term, in progress, done, etc. (I was using columns in Trello for this).
* Can break a task down into subtasks with their own descriptions, comments, progress, etc.
** Ideally subtasks would be viewable alongside tasks on the overview so I can see all the things I could work on at once.

Any recommendations?
posted by unus sum to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The UI might not be precisely what you want, but there's a Trello add-on called Scaled that, among other things, allows cards to be added to "Epics", creating sort of a two-level hierarchy of cards. There are some limitations -- Epics have to be in their own dedicated list being one of them -- but since you've already put some work into Trello, maybe this will be a way to get most of what you want if nothing else meets your needs.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:17 PM on November 26, 2021

Check out Notion . I use it as a notetaking app, but it has Kanban boards, to-do lists with subtasks and the like. You might be able to play around with it to develop a system that works for you.
posted by Leontine at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've used workflowy since it's easy to use and it's just a list maker, and making sub items is quick and easy.

For categorizing, you can create higher level items (long term, short term) and move tasks between lists.

The only thing I don't do is use it on a phone however.
posted by cowlick at 6:43 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Todoist is pretty good for what you're describing
posted by pyro979 at 7:47 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Asana handles hierarchical tasks pretty well, and I think the free tier would be enough for your needs.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 9:36 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 to Todoist. You can have projects, within which you can see all the tasks, optionally divided into subprojects. The tasks themselves can have subtasks, which sounds like it would do what you want.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 10:03 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've started using Amazing Marvin, desktop, web version, and Android app available. Not sure about apple.

There is a free trial and then a yearly or lifetime subscription.
posted by Fence at 2:56 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

My entire life is in Dynalist. Yes, the home page says it's an "outlining tool", but it is so much more. It supports tags, recurring tasks, checklists, links, and multiple ways to view your content.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:41 AM on November 27, 2021

+1 for Todoist—I've been using it as a just rich enough lightweight personal project/todos tool for years now. And, it checks all your boxes.
posted by curoi at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 for Todoist - it even has a kanban view, like the columns in Trello.
posted by gakiko at 10:48 AM on November 27, 2021

If you only need lists/tasks/subtasks, I actually use Apple’s Reminders app for this these days. This can kind of be thought of as 2 levels of subtasks - my lists are things like “long term” “one time” “repeated” (tasks that happen repeatedly at regular intervals) and “groceries.” So for you e.g. one list could be “improve drainage” and then you’d have tasks & subtasks on that list. It meets most of the requirements you mention but I don’t know if it has a web interface (it has iOS as well as Mac OS, and they sync) and I don’t see a way to flag by status (long term, short term, in progress, done) - there is only one flag that can be on or off (rather than multiple colors/states), at least on my ipad app.
ETA: Looks like it does have a web interface through iCloud, if you use icloud.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 11:03 AM on November 27, 2021

If you’re an Apple/Mac person, Things and Omnifocus are contenders.
posted by executive_dysfuncti0n at 12:57 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m using (the free version of) Jira for exactly this. It works shockingly well. (Shockingly because I also use it at work, where I kind of hate it.)
posted by okayokayigive at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've used Asana and Wrike in a workplace setting. Asana is a little easier to get into, Wrike has a little more functionality. Small team/ personal use, iirc, are free.

Both are web based. I haven't tried either on a cellphone, though.

In either, you can set up different projects (that you can populate with an arbitrary number of tasks and subtasks), and sections within a project for categorization. Asana handles drag'n'dropping task sets between sections more easily.

Both have Gantt charts but Wrike's is better. Gantt charts are useful for visualizing timelines, and Wrike handles subtasks and dependencies (one thing has to be completed before this other thing can proceed/ be completed) better.

Both do subtasks well. Wrike does complicate subtasks better, and does subtask visualization better (via Gantt chart).
posted by porpoise at 10:52 AM on November 28, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everybody, those answers are extremely helpful. I'm trying Todoist now and like it a lot better than Trello so far. I might also try Jira, Asana, and/or Wrike.
posted by unus sum at 6:57 PM on November 28, 2021

I am a big fan of Freedcamp. I like the list approach much better than the kanban style of Trello. Their free tier is pretty powerful.
posted by kristi at 4:32 PM on November 29, 2021

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