Getting a ToDo List Manager is on my ToDo List
February 25, 2008 6:05 AM   Subscribe

There seems to be a million different online and software based To Do List and Project Management applications, and my brain is tired of trying to figure out the difference between them. It's the bells and whistles that get to me. Help me find the one that fits!

Here's a description of my perfect application:
1) I have Project A, B, C, D, E through infinity. There should be no limit to the number of projects I can have.
2) I have Tasks assigned to each Project that need to be done in a certain order to complete that project.
3) The ability to look at one Project in detail, see all Tasks and be able to makes notes on each task.
4) When I log in or fire up the app, I want to see a list of all projects, along with *just the current task waiting to be accomplished.* I get overwhelmed easily when I see a list of 20 to 30 tasks for just one project. I just want to see the one task I need to focus on now. For example, I could have Project A - Task 4, Project B - Task 2, Project C - Task 8, etc.
5) When I check off that task (let's say Project A - Task 4), the next one comes up - the next time I log in, instead of showing Project A - Task 4, it would show Task 5.
6) I would LOVE for this to be an online application and therefore independent of operating system. Bonus points for the ability to be able to drag and drop to reorder Tasks and prioritize Projects. Also bonus points for the ability to group Projects according to similarity (writing, home improvement, fitness and diet, vacation planning, car maintenance, etc)
7) If it's software based, it needs to fit on a thumb drive and be cross-platform, as I have a PC at work and a mac at home.

I've looked at Remember The Milk, Vitalist and TaDaList but don't think they fit the bill for the above.

I hope I've been specific enough and hope this question might also help others whose brain works similarly to mine.

Thanks so much for your help.
posted by willmize to Work & Money (10 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
We're beginning to use @Task at work for project management.

-- You can have lots of Projects. Projects have Tasks, and Tasks can have Subtasks, with more Subtasks, down through many, many levels. You can easily (with drag and drop) create relationships between Tasks to show what must be done in which order. The Gantt Chart feature is quite detailed.

-- You can look at one Project and all its Tasks easily. I don't see a way to add Notes per se, but there are ways to open Issues for each Task. You can also view by My Tasks, to see all your items across Projects, which should prioritize your Tasks for you by due dates.

-- You can assign Tasks to different Users, who may or may not have login access to @Task. But if your Task 2 is dependent on Bob finishing Task 1, you can create Task 1, assign it to Bob, and see that dependency in your Project.

I haven't used @Task enough yet to know if it's really great or a total pain in the ass, but it's something for you to consider. I know we rejected Basecamp, for example, because of the lack of Gantt charting.
posted by junkbox at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2008

The same people who make tadalist also make basecamp which is designed as a more full-featured project management tool.
posted by idb at 8:46 AM on February 25, 2008

Thanks to the folks that responded above, I appreciate it.
I was hoping for more feedback, but it looks like I am going to have to do the legwork myself :)
For those of you who marked this as a favorite, hoping for some enlightenment yourself, I just wanted to point you toward these two blog posts which list a crapload of online and software based ToDo List/Project Managers.
I'm vetting them out right now.

It could be a while :)

25 To Do Lists

Rants and Raves: To Do Lists


- Bill
posted by willmize at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've been using OmniFocus for a while. I think it does most of what you want except for being web based (although it does run on a Mac). It is based off the Getting Things Done approach but you don't need to buy into GTD to find it useful. You can have Folder, Projects and Action Items. Items in a project can be sequential or simultaneous (or some can have sub-projects which are sequential items and the rest of the items simultaneous.) You can use start date and due dates or repeat functions if you want (but don't have to). You can view all next items or all available items. Each item also has a context (I use phone, computer, errands, @home, Joint@home and joint errand for my home based contexts).
posted by metahawk at 12:58 PM on February 25, 2008

I love omnifocus, but if you're using it without subscribing to GTD you're fighting it's natural tendencies. Things would be a much better choice.
posted by justgary at 2:28 PM on February 25, 2008

I'm currently a beta tester for a system that pretty much does 1-6 on your list. It includes the drag-and-drop aspect of 6, but not the grouping -- but that's coming, in the form of project context specification. And as a not-on-your-list bonus, it adds a social-networking component so that you can assign tasks to other people (they can't see any of your tasks that you haven't assigned to them). It'll soon have the ability to make certain tasks dependent on others, so you can see what you're waiting for other people to do. It's not the prettiest right now, but that's being worked on; comments on design are welcome.

It's a closed beta, but the developers have agreed to let me mention it here. Email me if you'd like to check it out and I'll invite you; you'll also have invites you can use to get others in. It's currently ad-supported and free; there may later be a more robust paid version. Other MeFites who'd like a look should feel free to email me as well. Address is in the profile.

(Full disclosure: I'm a beta tester because the developers are friends of mine.)
posted by nickmark at 2:33 PM on February 25, 2008

(I should add - if you're interested, emailing me is best; I'm normally under a corporate firewall that keeps me from reading AskMe, so I won't generally see posts here.)
posted by nickmark at 2:36 PM on February 25, 2008

Just a quick follow up to Nick's emails above.
I did email him, did get a beta invite and am currently running the application through its paces. Like he said, it's not the prettiest, but it does everything that I was looking for.

I have a few quibbles which I will be letting them know about, but still worth the effort to check out.

Grab a beta invite and check it out for yourself.

Thanks again to everyone.

- Bill
posted by willmize at 6:39 AM on February 26, 2008

And yet another addendum to the above.
I have received 10 beta invites to the project that @nickmark mentioned.
If you would like one, feel free to mefi mail me with your email address.

- Bill
posted by willmize at 7:42 AM on February 28, 2008

I thought I would come over to this post one last time and give everyone the link to the new online To Do list beta that was mentioned above. It's open to everyone now, and I think it's a pretty freakin' amazing piece of work.

So get over there!

Tell them Bill sent ya.
This will, of course, mean nothing to them, but it will give me a laugh.
posted by willmize at 4:04 AM on June 23, 2008

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