About a year ago I started using an iPhone 3G and had to find replacement applications for a Sony Clie NX-70 Palm based device I had been using for 5 years (yes, it was and still is really that good). The Datebk5 app I had been using was pretty nice and the iPhone was missing a heap of capabilities in comparison, most noticeably in task management. So after learning about the Getting Things Done (GTD) system from David Allen’s book a year earlier, I bought OmniFocus for the Mac and then the iPhone. In a nutshell, GTD advocates you list “projects” you are working on (e.g. “submit ACME proposal”, “clean garage”), “contexts” in which you can do things (e.g. “on the phone”, “email”, “writing”, “running errands”), tag all your tasks with these two attributes and place them in an order in which they need to be done (e.g. “write proposal” followed by “buy envelopes” followed by “mail proposal”). This allows you to focus only on the next action required instead of on the inifite amount of items most of us have in front of us at any given time. By staying focused and making small progress daily and not becoming overwhelmed by the big picture, you have a greater chance of “getting things done”. The idea of “contexts” is that you when you decide it time to make phone calls, you look at your “on the phone” context list, and start doing things on it, regardless of project. Its a relatively simple system, but I’m not sure it works for everyone. I tend to not really think in contexts, and thus task management systems based around GTD (like OmniFocus) start to get in your way.
So after using OmniFocus for a year and generally not really enjoying the experience, I’ve recently starting using the web-based ToodleDo app, along with its corresponding iPhone app. ToodleDo lets you use many of the methods of the GTD system (it has contexts, and folders, and status, etc.) but is flexible enough that you can only use what you want. I have to say, I’m enjoying it much more (and its much less expensive too, as in free for the web app and only $4 for the iPhone app, compared with nearly $100 for both OmniFocus products if you get them at full price). I think the feature of ToodleDo I like the best is the “hotlist”, which is a compilation of items you have deemed important via priorities, due-dates, flags, and so on. It cuts across projects and contexts and is just a nice list. For those of us that don’t think in pure “project” or “context” terms like GTD advocates, this simple feature alone is really useful. And the bonus is, all your tasks are on the web, so you can find them from any computer. Hooray for competition.