2017 appears to be the year I either sort out my to-do list, or abandon all hope.
At the moment, abandoning all hope seems far more likely.
Let’s start at the beginning, which is about ten years ago when I stumbled across the then very-new GQueues while trying to find something better suited to my mental organization style than Todoist had proven to be. (For people who think like Todoist, that’s a pretty decent system. I’m not one of them.) GQueues lets me to do things I need from a task manager: hierarchical tasks, project organization, the ability to attach links and notes, and I can color-code projects to match my Google Calendar color scheme. But I walked away from it earlier this year for a bit because it doesn’t allow a basic user a calendar view (integration with Google Calendar for subscribed users), and I was trying to develop an editorial calendar that made sense to me.
I briefly tried Trello, but it turns out that a board system only works for some of my projects and not so well for others. I wasn’t willing to split my time between even more task managers than I currently am (we’ll get to that in a moment), so I tried Asana. I had tried Asana before and found it a bit too inflexible for how I prefer to work, but they’ve made a number of changes. Each project space has its own calendar, which makes it easier to see everything related to that project in one place and easier to shift things around when schedules change. And you can decide whether a list or a kanban-style board would be better for each project. But repeating projects don’t work the way you expect them to, and completed repeating tasks don’t go away unless you delete them, removing any trace of your hard work. (Asana does not see this as a problem, and has refused all requests to change this behavior.)
So, I shifted back to GQueues, my projects much more streamlined after a turn through Asana. And I was working along happily…until a recent revamp that, without warning, reduced the number of characters available to a queue’s global notes. (I lost so many notes in trying to address this discovery.) In an angry panic and a certain fear of losing more to GQueues (nothing like this had ever happened before), I shifted everything back over to Asana…only to find the system’s true weakness. Asana has no one place where you can see all of your tasks across all of your workspaces, and connecting it to Google Calendar was unpredictable. (To be fair, Asana warns you up front that there are some hiccups between the two.)
It took two missed auditions and a nearly missed work deadline to realize that was not going to fly. I need a central list with all of the day’s task. So back to GQueues I have gone, mindful of the situation in the global notes. (I’ve also started streamlining the notes of separate tasks…just in case…) I also have a Smart Queue for the week’s task, so I can still look head while working on the day’s tasks.
Earlier, I said I split my time between task managers. About a year and a half ago, I started using Habitica. (Re-using, really, since I first used it back when it was HabitRPG.) Habitica is a charming task manager that turns your to-do list into an RPG. You take on a class. You join a party and guilds. You complete quests. You earn XP, gold, and loot for just getting things done. And while it’s fun and all, it’s not really geared toward managing large projects…or long-term projects…or multi-part projects…or “down the road” tasks. That said, it’s great for managing habits you’re working on and predictably repeating tasks (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) with a minimum of fuss and clutter. It’s also good for keeping immediate projects you’re working on, and for prioritizing your day. You can even include notes and links, and decorate your tasks with cool little emojis.
For the time being, I use GQueues and Habitica in tandem. Far fewer things slip through the cracks. Far fewer project steps or pieces get forgotten. It’s worked fairly well for me. On GQueues, I keep track of those large, long-term, multi-part, and “someday” projects. On Habitica, I keep habits, daily tasks, and the projects I’m currently focused on. I even manage my reading and listening habits, keeping upcoming books, audiobooks, and audio dramas on GQueues, and the one(s) I’m currently reading on Habitica. (I’ve helped my party defeat more than one boss, simply by reading a Brandon Sanderson novel.)
I assume I’m settled for now, but you might be struggling with your own task/project management woes. Perhaps you can find a solution somewhere in my own experimenting. If you do, let me know in the comments!