I’ve been a big fan of my Outlook calendar for a really long time, but I’ve never found it adequate for managing tasks. I’ve always had to rely on a spreadsheet, printed calendar, or other tool to keep track of the many projects I have on the go for my business and my clients at any given time.
I tried WorkFlowy, and found that it allowed me to organize information in a way that works for my brain type. By that I mean you can create major topics such as Client Projects, Blogging, Social Media, and so on, and then subtopics under each one. Then, for each subtopic, you can list the tasks. It’s easy to collapse the lists you don’t need to look at, and to rearrange items by dragging and dropping. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too simple for my needs. There’s no way to include due dates or detailed information about the tasks. I could probably have lived with this, adding items to my Outlook task list as needed, but the fact that I had to go to a web page to access my list was a real deterrent. I needed something I could keep open in front of me.
Next, I tried Wunderlist. I loved the fact that it was software I could download to my computer, so I didn’t have to go to a web page to view it or worry about it being inaccessible if my Internet connection went down. I also loved that there is an iPhone app so I could sync my devices and always have access to my up-to-date task list. I was intrigued by the feature that allowed me to send or forward an email to a special email address and have the item automatically added to my task list. However, the desktop version and the mobile version worked very differently, which was very confusing. Furthermore, the only way to prioritize tasks was to drag and drop them into the desired order, and doing this caused the relevant lists to be ordered the same way, making it next to impossible to locate information. (Please note that a new version of Wunderlist has been released since I tried it, so these issues may have been resolved.)
I spent a lot of time looking at the various task management apps listed on the Apple App Store, but the ones that appealed to me most would only sync with a Mac or a website. Then I realized I was barking up the wrong tree – having access to my task list isn’t a priority when I’m away from my office. It’s when I’m sitting at my desk that I need to know what I should be working on today. With this shift in focus, I began looking for a desktop app, ideally one that would sync with my iPhone. That’s when I discovered Swift To-Do List.
Like WorkFlowy, Swift To-Do List allows you to create lists and sublists (and even sub-sub lists, if you’re so inclined). For each list, you can create tasks as well as subtasks, which is great for those projects that you need to break down into manageable steps. For each task you can set start dates, due dates, reminders (email and/or pop-up), time estimates, priority, and just about anything else you might need – but each of these features are optional, and you can just hide them from view if you’re not using them (and bring them back easily if you change your mind later).
Now, when I receive an email from a client that requires action, instead of moving it to an email folder with the client’s name and flagging it for a specific date, I drag the whole email into Swift To-Do List, where it immediately creates a new task. The entire email, including any attachments, are attached to the task, so I no longer need to flip back and forth between my task list and my email – everything I need is right there. And if I receive subsequent emails related to that task, I can attach them too.
Another aspect of Swift To-Do List that works well for me is sorting and filtering. For example, let’s say I’ve blocked the next couple of hours to work for a certain client. If I have many projects on the go for that client, I can set my filter to see all tasks for that client, or only those for a particular project. I can then order them by due date or priority, or filter it so I only see those flagged as high priority. It’s so flexible and powerful; I really wish I’d found it a long time ago!
I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed in the mobile version. You have to synchronize manually from your computer, and I don’t always remember to do that (maybe I should set it up as a recurring task!), and of course the mobile app isn’t as powerful, partly because of the reduced screen size. But since my primary use is from my desktop, this is a minor issue.
In this day of free apps, I was a little hesitant to pay the seemingly high price tag, but after taking advantage of the 30-day free trial, I knew it was just what I needed. You just can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes with knowing nothing is going to be overlooked, and with my increase in productivity, the software has already paid for itself.
Another sign that you get what you paid for is the level of support. Twice I’ve had a question about a particular feature that wasn’t working for me, and both times I received a detailed and informative answer in a very short time.
Even if this software isn’t for you, you’re bound to have a client at some point who needs this level of detail in their task management system, so you should really check out Swift To-Do List!