I am a fan of RemembertheMilk and since I came across it in mid 2008 My Trends and Tools of 2008, I’ve been using it in some form or another.
I’ve tried quite a few of these to-do, action scheduling and activity prioritisation services, and I find that RTM has built both a great core services with a very extensible platform.
Which brings me to what is important in my view about these productivity aids. They should be|have:
- multimodal accessibility
- multiple application & multiple device|platform support and effective API and integration capability
- simple interface and simple instructions for use
Multimodal Accessibility: Access as you need
When I use RTM I want to access it from where I am : – the browser, the desktop, within an application (I wish for more integrations here), on a mobile device, consumer services). I don’t want the necessity to use it, to break my flow, or pull me away from what I’m actively working on.
Ok perhaps, some of this is more idealistic than realistic, but it’s a good principle. Task management and alerting isn’t something that is meaningful and valuable in itself, but it contributes value to other activities or set of diverse activities that need coordination.
Effective API and integration capability: Access through choice
In this case RTM does provide this for me. I access RTM via the gadget for Gmail , the Chrome extension Chromemilk , the iGoogle gadget and the Windows Vista/7 desktop gadget :- I forgot the milk .
I’m alerted via a combination of integrated consumer services.
RTM has IM bot service that supports the majority of public IM community services. I use the Googletalk IM service, via Digsby on the desktop and Googletalk for Blackberry application to ensure that I receive my reminders irrespective of location or activity.
I can send and receive task updates through many of these services too. e.g. integration through Twitter or through IMified, these both support a prescribed text syntax to interface with RTM at a considerable level of detail.
As Google Chrome is my browser of choice, RTM is now automatically integrated with Google Gears , so offline use of the application in the same intuitive browser UI is straightforward and simple. Making task management when in a disconnected mode very easy, and synchronisation once on-line again a single mouse click.
Simple interface and simple instructions for use: Ease of use
I tend to leave the IM and mobile integration services for alerting purposes and use the browser or the desktop (Windows gadget) services for actual task management.
RTM made a step change (in my mind) in its usability and productivity, when they simplified task creation with their Smart Add service. This allows you to declare all the required attributes (task list, tags, due date, location, repeats, duration) through prescribed prefixes in a single line of text input. This service is available through many of browser UI’s, Twitter and also through the email import service.
So once you familiarise yourself with the syntax, and with some services providing type ahead lookups too, adding tasks is really very quick and simple.
Do you or should you need to create a task for everything?
No of course not, I use rolling task headings for work, that get perpetually postponed (shifted to the next available working day) and I edit the task note contents instead to indicate what action is pertinent or of priority to that task heading or subject. This is where the Windows gadget is particularly good, allowing direct task note edit and save function from the gadget/desktop.
How do you manage your task and time?
My tip is to try a variety of service points and find the ones most suited to you, invest some time in getting to know particular syntaxes or techniques and then you should reap the benefits.