Monday, July 14, 2008

28. Social Task Lists

Do you find yourself having trouble remembering things? Maybe you have a friend, family member or co-worker that could use some help in the remembering department. If either of those are true, you might want to try out one of the many "social task lists" that are out there. The differences between traditional task list programs or sites and a "social" site is that these Web 2.0 versions of task management are easily sharable and easily updateable through non-traditional means (Jott, Twitter, etc.). There are a lot of entries into this field, but I'm going to focus on three of them briefly and one in great detail!
The first two
social task lists that I'll mention are Gubb and ClockingIT. These are both free and available via the web - meaning any computer you are at, work or home, can access your lists. Gubb has a really nice SMS feature that lets you both request lists to be sent to your text-capable phone or add items to lists on your phone. Each list has a unique email address that you can use to text commands or additions to the list from wherever you happen to be. ClockingIT is a more full-featured product - almost a project management system in itself. It provides a LOT of structure for your lists and a lot of extra functionality beyond just lists (such as time tracking and project management-style charts), but you can turn off anything in the interface that you don't need to keep it simple, if you prefer.
The task list tha
t I use is Remember The Milk, a great name for a simple task manager! RTM, as it is commonly known, offers simple list creation and management, a very powerful search function (including creating lists that are results of saved searches - something I use frequently) and a lot of "extra" information for each item on your list. RTM supports tagging and notes for each item, as well as basing items on location. If you use it for both work and home lists, you can separate them out by location and use the saved search feature to create smart lists that just list the items that need to be done where you are - home or work - so you won't see anything that will just distract you!
The social part comes with the ability to create contacts in RTM and send them items from your lists. You and your significant other can create "honey-do" lists that automatically recieve anything sent from that person - handy for busy folks who might not see notes left on the kitchen table! RTM also comes with a Firefox extension for Gmail that allows you to completely integrate your task lists in with your email (something I've been wishing for in Gmail for a while). Installing this extension into your Firefox browser gives you the ability to easily add emailed information and items to your various lists and allows you to access your RTM information without needing to open a new tab (or window). Also, RTM allows you to share your data with third parties, such as Jott or Twitter, and either set or retrieve tasks via those communication channels. This means that setting a new task is as easy as calling Jott, saying RTM (or whatever nickname you give it) and telling Jott what your task is. It will be in your RTM inbox when you next log in! Pretty slick....
Each of these list managers has features and quirks that some will love, some will hate. Try them out, see which one fits you best and then see if the one you choose helps you get more organized! Check out the resources list below for links to the three lists I mentioned, as well as some information about a personal productivity method that is VERY popular with geeks (but don't let that scare you off!!) and some information about setting up a RTM account in accordance with the GTD principles. Have fun, make lists, share them with your friends and become more organized as you play with these Web 2.0 tools!

Resources:

16 comments:

Nikki B said...

This is handy and all but I stay pretty satisfied with my outlook task list. Now what I do like about this is that now I know how to get ahold of my boss EVEN MORE!!! Although...if I signed up for any of those she could send more more tasks....yeah I don't like this idea, I'm gonna pass and just stick to my outlook task list

eyeoh said...

This is far better than the 15 notes a day I shove into my pocket. At one point, I started combining notes from my pocket to create one large note, which I then shoved in my pocket. I think I'll enjoy RTM. It's simple, and email reminders are perfect for work. Excellent choice for a lesson!

Lori Reed said...

@nikki b if you are dedicated to Outlook then I highly recommend the book "Take Back Your Life." It applies the GTD principles to Outlook and gives step by step instructions for using Outlook for time management.

Robin - thanks for sharing this with me. Great post!

Marion said...

Interesting ideas. I think Corey may like this. I've just recently started taking advantage of Google's calendar feature and sharing info with him that way instead of having separate paper calendars for home and work.

Francesca said...

Social Task Lists
Along the lines Marion was writing about, I can definitely see a need for shared task reminders or calendars for couples to coordinate their lives – especially if both work outside the home. I’m thinking of grocery lists to vacations or upcoming events that both may wish to attend, or knowing which holidays your partner has off. It was always a mystery to my husband which weekend I worked (more so with the 5 week rotation). Once again I’m impressed with the interoperability between the various programs: gmail, RTM, & Jott.

sexybeast said...

I like the twenty notes I shove into my pockets. The challenge of it all. I'm list maker and I like writing things down, however, I can see this would be useful for a lot of people with busy schedules but not for me. I don't use outlook, so I probably would use this either.

moonbeam said...

For someone that is super busy, this is great. I don't seem to need to use anything like this.

betterlate said...

I have never set up a task list. This will be great! thanks!

heather said...

I guess my life is too simplified to use this much but it would be handy if I was a busy achiever.

leslie said...

I can see where I could find uses for RTM and gubb but RTM seems simpler. It would be useful if you were planning a reunion or vacation with people from different towns or states. You could put the list on either one and share it with everyone so they could contribute and know what's going on!

justme said...

With this being a simple all in one application for just about everything it would be a good way to keep track of family members and all of their activities.

Robin said...

@leslie - I've been using RTM for shopping lists and it's amazing. They have a mobile site (m.rememberthemilk.com) that makes finding items by location (Hy-Vee or Schnucks or Gerbes, etc.) very easy. Once I have that up on my phone (or you could print it out before you leave, if you don't have an internet-enabled phone), I have my entire shopping list for the store at which I am shopping in my hand - and I can "complete" items as I toss 'em into my cart. Very handy for me and another great use of RTM for folks who think they don't have enough "to-dos" to make it useful - everyone has a shopping list!

newbie said...

I too love jotting down the paper note and shoving it into my pocket. I wan't sure I would really apply this until I saw the post about using it for shopping lists. With Christmas coming, I thing that this could be very useful.

madmusing said...

I like paper lists, too, and have multiple lists scattered all around my house, in the car, in my purse, etc. So these task lists were interesting to me, although I probably won't use them. Now, if I had an i-phone... I did like gubb and might experiment with using it.

courtney said...

While I generally rely on my (admittedly fallible) memory to keep track of lists, I must admit that I'm also one of those folks who writes things on little pieces of paper. Only to have them turn up as shreds in the washing machine. Of course, that might be just me. I'm going to have to give one of these a try to replace the little pieces of paper that inevitably end up where they're not supposed to.

I Don't Know How She Does It! said...

Do you have a co-worker that needs some help in the remembering dept.? Boy, do I! I am also driving others people crazy with my forgetfulness. In fact, I am so forgetful I don't know if I would even remember to use these handy tools. I appreciate knowing about these neat new task list managers, but I know myself well enough to know that my notepad method suits my personality. My forgetfulness is just another one of my endearing qualities, right? :)