This topic is quite dear to my heart. I am asking this question myself for a couple of years now. Ideas that form my opinion come from the departments healthy living, minimalism, personal education and growth, and lifestyle.
When do I have enough?
This question is rather hard to answer. There are just so many factors that determine “enoughness”. Let’s talk about an example most of my readers should be familiar with: apps.
They way a lot of people in the community handle purchasing new apps is quite emotional. Buying an app is something people do very emotionally, shot from the hip. Apps are bought because of many reasons, one of which is pleasure. It is exciting to buy oneself something good. Look back at the days of The Heist. That was exciting, wasn’t it? It was a nerdfest extraordinare! My mother can’t find that pleasurable, but I did. I still do. I sometimes buy apps because I like that endorphin rush flowing through my blood when I finally decide I buy an app. On the other hand, an app is just five bucks anyway, so what’s to lose?
There are other reasons we buy luxury goods. We want to show yourself that we are worth something, therefore we buy yourself something of worth. We buy clothes that fit us. Clothes that show others how we see ourself, how we want others to perceive us. If you wear a suit, that shows others something about you. Do you wear a tie, a fly, or do you go without any accessories?
These are two reasons why having enough is a tough. With apps, they don’t take up any real space, only virtual. They take up even less space, considering the apps can all just be downloaded again from the cloud. Without taking up space, where do you draw the border where you have enough apps? Is there even a limit?
But it’s not just luxury goods that determine enoughness. Let’s talk about food. If you didn’t sleep in school you know that your body needs a certain amount of food, to create energy out of, to function normally. If you eat less than your normal caloric need, your weight decreases. If you eat more than your caloric need, you gain weight. How do you know when you had enough?
What’s so hard about “eating just enough food” is that we think that our brains are more important than our body. We look at a plate and eat it all up, no matter whether the food filled us up after two bites or not. We’ve conditioned our brains that the plate needs to be empty, or that we want that small piece of chocolate just do us some good. We’ve earned it, didn’t we?
Overeating, however, results in weight gain. Weight gain results in thinking you are not as good looking anymore1. So you think about limiting yourself. Suddenly you decide that the amount of food you eat is too much. You don’t have enough, you have more than you need.
Food is tricky because of the conditioning. Did you ever travel somewhere? Think about all the other people you see travel. How many do you know that pack an extra piece of food, just in case they get hungry? As if there is no food on the other side.
People fear they could starve. But starvation takes much much more time than an 8-hour drive somewhere. Your body can easily go 24 hours without food. Your scientific education should tell you that you don’t need the extra food. It’s not required, but for some reason our fear of not having enough is bigger than the knowledge that there is always going to be enough food wherever we go.
How much time did you ever spend figuring out how much of which food you really need to not starve and not gain weight? Most people don’t. I’m certainly not a master at this, but I spent time trying to listen in to my body trying to hear when it tells me that it just had enough.
Now let’s take a look back into our homes. We have stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Books in bookshelves, DVD’s, gadgets, tools… Our homes are full of stuff. Do we all need that many books? No, of course not, but some people like to keep many books because they feel they might need them at some point, or they are just nice to look at, they show other people how intelligent they are. There are many reasons why you would like to have more stuff than necessary.
The point here is that the level where something is enough comes so suddenly. Take books as example. One day we look at the shelf and are like “Why do I have so many books?”. The pain threshold has been reached at that point where we decide that we had enough, and now want to go back to having just enough.
Why we do all of this is clear. We want to keep balance. When we have more of something, it takes up more space in our life (quite literally). If something is so big that we can’t comprehend its space anymore, we get a desire to make it smaller.
Most of my shelves are empty. I don’t know how it all started, but at some point I wanted to get rid of everything. Screws, books, tools, gadgets. Stuff that I once bought but never really used. Stuff that I bought and used, but then kept because it could become handy in the future, but that future never became reality. Right now I try not to accumulate more stuff. Well, at least stuff that I don’t need.
My parents are a fantastic counter-example of myself. My dad looked at my shelves and said “you’ve got some space there, why don’t you buy more stuff?” Why would I want to, dad? Buying stuff not even because I really really need it, but just to make the shelves look fuller.
And that’s the point of “having enough”. It’s thriving for that point where enough is enough. The point at which you have eaten enough not to gain weight, but also enough not to starve. The point where you have enough books to show off your education, but also where they are not so many that you hate yourself every time you move.
Having enough stands for freedom and peace. Freedom of choice and peace of mind. When you made the conscious decision where enough is enough you feel free, in balance, and in peace. Makes sense?
The former catch-up app, Hojoki, has been relaunched as CatchApp. Not only is the name now more appropriate, but the new app also looks stunningly good.
I used Hojoki in the past to get all notifications “in one place”. With Hojoki I could connect to Trello, Dropbox, and GitHub to get updates of all of these services from Hojoki. Notice that Hojoki/CatchApp can connect to apps that don’t even have notifications built in!
The app is free and delivers 100 notifications, pro accounts have no limitation.
Building a Cloud-Enabled Dropbox-Powered Clipboard
Just yesterday I was, again, frustratingly sitting on my Mac waiting for CloudClipboard to sync new content I created on my iPhone. The changes just wouldn’t show up. It’s not the fault of CloudClipboard, it is iCloud that is the culprit here.
I thought Unclutter would be a good cloud clipboard, because I could just move its content folder to Dropbox. The problem with Unclutter is, however, that it only retains one image file and only has one text file. With Keyboard Maestro on my Mac and clipboard history enabled, only having one picture is not enough.
So I decided to make my own.
Hazel, Launch Center Pro, Keyboard Maestro, Dropbox
If you are into OS X and iOS automation you are going to love this. My approach is the following.
Basically there are two kinds of content that I want to transfer. One is text, the other are images. I can accept when the text is in plain text. Or, in other words, when the formatting gets lost in the process.
I don’t want it to be automatic, e.g. putting clipboard contents in Dropbox automatically. I think across platforms it is more desirable to share specific content only, not everything.
Basic setup: create a folder in Dropbox. Mine is /Apps/Clibpoard/.
On iOS I need a thing to put stuff from the clipboard in Dropbox, and something to put stuff from Dropbox on the clipboard. Just the basic Dropbox app is good enough to put stuff that is in Dropbox, on the clipboard. Getting new content into Dropbox is not that easy.
Luckily Launch Center Pro has Dropbox now built in. It is very easy to setup a couple of actions to help us here. You can use the Composer. System Actions → In-App Dropbox → Upload Photo/New File.
To get stuff from Dropbox onto the iOS clipboard, use the Copy File to Clipboard action.
My Mac has more amazing automation and is a little bit more powerful.
Hazel monitors the Clipboard folder for new files to arrive.
If new file added → has Extension → txt
Name → does not contain → mac
Execute Shell script
cat "$1" | pbcopy
If new file added → has Extension → png/jpg
Name → does not contain → mac
set the clipboard to (read (theFile as alias) as TIFF picture)
Getting new stuff into the Clipboard is almost as easy. Whatever automation tool you use, I’m pretty certain you can come up with something, e.g. an Alfred Workflow. I chose Keyboard Maestro, naturally.
I tried various approaches, but the fastest, workable solution to not having double entries on the clipboard was to add a suffix (Mac) to the files.
I’m using ⌃V as shortcut, and put the macro in my Available in: Finder group.
For those who want to auto-delete the clipboard history, you can add a Hazel action to remove items that are older than, say, a week or so. I personally don’t need that, but mentioning it here is possibly an inspiration for you.
Geeking Meditation Timers (Launch Center Pro, Due, Day One)
I’ve been asking on Twitter what other people use as their meditation timer to go, as I’m quite unsatisfied with the app I’m using, InsightTimer. Don’t get me wrong, InsightTimer is great, it has all the options, but the app is just so butt ugly.
So, a journey started. I actually really like to have a little ding after 15 minutes, so that I know that I can go into a different position. That’s just something I do as a practice. But I can live without it, I guess. What I don’t want to live without is the ability to add a little journal entry after the practice.
Being the geek I am, I wanted something more “elaborate”, let’s just call it that. I turned to Due, because it is able to execute a URL after a reminder has been completed. That’s pretty cool, right?
The URL I came up with is pretty simple.
Meditate in 30 minutes dayone://post?entry=%23%23%23%20Meditation%20Log%20%23%23%23%0A%0A30%20minutes%0A%0A
URL decoded this translates to:
Meditate in 30 minutes dayone://post?entry=### Meditation Log ###
Basically it creates a pre-filled entry for me with a Markdown header and a little indication as to how long I’ve been sitting there.
I forgot how to download all previous purchases. Turns out the purchase history is not the way to go. The Quick Links section has a link “Purchased” where you can download purchases not yet added to a library.
Jang Woo-Seok, a designer from South Korea who’s working in the fields of industrial, furniture and graphic design, offers an intermediate level of water usage. Instead of flowing to the sewage channels, the water from the bath sink is forwarded to a toilet cistern. After several hand washes the water collected in the toilet cistern becomes enough for a toilet wash.
I have a need for a break time reminder that blocks total access to my keyboard and really rougly interrupts my work. I’ve been using Pauses for about 2 years, but lately have realized that after its first break activates the second graphics card on my MacBook Pro, but doesn’t deactivate it afterwards. Not a deal breaker, the app still does what it’s supposed to do, but I wanted something that deactivates correctly1, or doesn’t need the discrete graphics.
In my previous purchases was this app named BreakTime, which does the same thing and doesn’t use the discrete card. However it also doesn’t show a motivational quote. If you follow me on Twitter you may know that I love to read quotes, like Zen Moments. Pauses gets the Brainy Quote of the Day and displays it in the fullscreen view. BreakTime does not display a quote, but the app overall has a better design. What’s really cool is that it also has keyboard shortcuts to defer a break, which comes in really handy.
I’ve also spotted Healthier, which looks even better, but I’m not quite willing to spend the money on it just yet.
I’ve emailed the developer because I think there’s just something not getting deallocated and he/she might not know about it. ↩
I’ve been tinkering a bit with Dropbox and photos. I thought automatic import sounds intriguing. The problem I had, was that a specific camera app that I use doesn’t crop width and height 100% equal. One side is always off by 1 pixel. I took some of the code in this thread and made it so that Hazel is able to compare am image based on its current dimensions ±10 pixels.
Customer Support: Setting Personal Borders Without Being a Dick
As you may know I have taken on a job as support guy for IdeasOnCanvas, the makers of MindNode. I have noticed a couple of differences how Markus handles support requests, compared to me. He’s far more apologetic than I would be, not in a bad way though. Let me explain.
How the support queue works
If you write us a support email, I am going to see that message with 100% certainty. As a rule of thumb, I am the person who needs to be able to answer your question. If I can’t answer right away, I can use Google, or ask in the IdeasOnCanvas chat room for help1.
Only when I cannot answer your problem is it okay for me to forward your message to Markus. This usually means things are really bad for you. You have lost data, experience some sort of unintended behavior, or a serious iCloud issue.2
If you are in this situation where you have experienced this sort of trouble it is okay for Markus to be more apologetic and submissive. Things are far worse than, say, “when I buy MindNode on my iPhone, can I download it on my iPad as well?”. Of course we see that things are bad, and of course we are really really sorry for that.
Setting personal borders
I’ve been thinking about setting borders for the last half year or so. When is enough enough?
The problem with customer support is that it’s communication; customer support is about interacting with others. We let other people into our personal space, without them being part of it. Communication is about: being empathetic, understanding, and mindful in a situation. It is about giving and taking. With customer support, you are in a submissive position. The customer is king/queen. That means that taking is not an option, usually. All you get is to give. Give support, be helpful, be understanding.
There is a point however, where giving is just enough. You can’t let people step on you. You have to set borders. Otherwise people will call you names, they will go far beyond what is socially acceptable, and all of that to a faceless support guy, sitting there asking themselves how they can possibly be helpful to such a rude person. Of course that gets to you - emotionally.
Luckily not many people are really that mad. Normally people are very friendly. They understand that they have a problem and they are aware that they are not capable of solving it by themselves. That puts them in a submissive position as well, if you see it like that. People write to that “giant” who knows all the answers. That Deep Thought who is far more intelligent and wise than they are. The trick is to give people the feeling that they are in charge. The key is to set yourself in the position that is below your customers’.
"I’m sorry that you don’t know how universal apps work, but that’s okay because not many people have so much technical knowledge to know that that little plus symbol next to an apps’ icon is supposed to mean “‘runs universally on iPad and an iPhone’".
Obviously I wouldn’t actually write that in a support mail, because, I think, it doesn’t give customers that “you are king/queen”-feeling. I would much rather write something like:
"Yes, if you buy MindNode on your iPhone, it will run on your iPad as well".
Why? Because it directly answers the question of the customer. Why would I faff about what that stupid plus thing does?
I also like to educate customers, so they don’t have to ask again in the future. I would go on and write.
"You may not know this, but the plus symbol next to an apps’ icon is supposed to mean ‘runs universally on iPad and iPhone’. I’m just mentioning this here because many people don’t know this and I’d like you to know".
I don’t say this is a perfect support person’s answer, but it shows the point of this article. Put yourself below the customer, try to give people the feeling that whatever they ask is not stupid at all, and make them, in turn, feel nice about your company. What people ask are acceptable, legitimate, and normal questions.
Let’s talk again about borders. Considering all the (conscious) submissive and dominant positioning, you should set a border where enough is just enough. What many people fear is not that they can’t set borders. They fear that once they make a border clear, they will be rudely defending it. Most of us have been taught to be nice as long as possible and that being rude and being direct is not nice. As my ex-girlfriend used to say: “There is a difference between being direct and being a dick. You can be direct, without being a dick”.
If you take anything from this article, then this: being direct and being rude does not correlate. You can be direct and demanding without being rude and offensive; all of this while you are still intelligent, apologetic, and empathetic, at the same time. It is good customer support when the person supporting the customer hits that line between being a prick and an underling.
How to find your borders
This is really easier said than done. It is actually a lot of work, because you need to look at yourself and need to be conscious how you want to be treated and you need to figure out how you want people interacting with your company should be treated. A lot of your own personal values will determine how you want your customers to be valued.
You can ask a friend to role play a support situation with you. Find the last 10 incidents and take them with you to this friend. Now ask them if they can put themselves in the customer position, while you stay in the supporter position. In this “safe environment” you can play through the situation in multiple ways. Your friend can take it when you are tyrannous.3 Be a total asshole, just one time, and your friend is going to tell you that’s seriously not okay. The things is, your friend can tell you what exactly was beyond normal. You can then step down, or go to the other extreme opposite, or work on your phrasing… there’s nothing you can’t do, really. Just try it out!
What you will notice are unsettling feelings in situations where a response was not okay, from either side. That’s a border. Write it down. What words did you use to get there? What feelings do you have? What feelings do you want to have? What words can you use to get that feeling (not just for you but also the customer)?
After a couple of tries, you will get a much better feeling for “good customer support”. You will be able to set a "tone" for your messages. But what you really do is set the voice of your company! And that’s pretty cool, right?
I’d say the initial role play will take you a day or two.4 Once completed you should re-iterate after some time has passed. Usually about three months is a good measure. If you read this, you know how to use computers. Use that computer to set a reminder in three months.
That’s what I would recommend to do.
Now, I wouldn’t want to close this article so suddenly, without giving you the feeling that your “not knowing” is nothing to be afraid of. It is okay for you to be “not so good” to know everything. It is okay not to know. You can learn. And you can certainly improve. And that’s what I would like to see you do. Become a stronger and better version of yourself. (without becoming a dick)
While I wait for a response I usually go ahead and answer another support request, because of the delay involved waiting for a reply. German efficiency at work. ↩
You tell [Kitestring] that you’re going on a trip, and then it checks up on you (via SMS) to make sure you haven’t been mugged or assaulted. You reply to the SMS messages (or check in on the website) to confirm your well-being. If you “go dark,” the app alerts a list of emergency contacts that you set up ahead of time.
Been thinking about this lately. How do I want other people, especially my followers, see me? I think about this for the same reason I don’t just post articles about health, Zen, and meditation, on Twitter willy-nilly. Because I’m not just interested in that. I’m also interested in geekery, scripting, marketing, sales, economics, video production, motion design, sex, and love. I’m whole as a human being.
That brings up a problem. Would I want my followers on Twitter to know what I do privately? Do I want to annoy them with my sex life? Of course not. That topic is private, and I’d like to keep it private. Only a few close friends are allowed to know.
Also part of the problem is that I, and probably you too, take part in multiple networks. There’s Twitter, there’s Facebook, there’s App.net… all are considered networks where you can hang out with friends. And there are networks that are more business related, like LinkedIn. There is my blog, where I want to write intelligent and interesting content…
Why I think about this. Well, as you may have realized by now, I changed the tone of this blog a little bit. I’m sharing more personal thoughts and made it less technical. What I also realized is that Facebook has become my number 1 business network. Not LinkedIn. I’ve been asking myself, if I want to let potential clients, coworkers, competitors know what music I’m listening to. I have a general desire to post a “song of the day”. Music is important to me. I’ve been DJ’ing for a long time, I’m a former audio engineer and musician. Music has value to me. I therefore want to express this somehow. Posting the song of the day is like DJ’ing for my friends. This becomes problematic because when I post a song of the day at 11am on Facebook, will my clients get the impression that I’m lazy and do a little dance that early in the morning?
The answer is “maybe”, slightly leaning to “probably”. The question I’m asking myself: Is that just an impression or sis it rooted in reality? Are other people really that considerate when they browse Facebook themselves?
One thing’s for certain, I don’t want to spam people. The least thing that I want is make someone else feel uncomfortable following me. Generally my aim is to recommend articles that a bigger portion of my followers are probably interested in. And that’s the crux: people come in from all kinds of sources. Just as I can’t stop being a musician, I can’t stop being a manager, video producer, and sportsman. Just this weekend, I attended a BarCamp about healthy living. It was great and I met a lot of new and interesting people. Those are not into tech. What if I annoy them with my AppleScript stuff?
Why I also think about this is because I see that other people have the same problem. People make two accounts. One where they tweet German and one where they tweet English. One where they talk about personal stuff and one where they talk about business stuff. It is getting to us. Isn’t it?
We want other people to perceive us in a certain light. “I’m really into chemistry”.
I decided to be human. I’m not just business, I’m not just private. I’m both. It is true that I generally tweet and write in English, but I’m also German. Sometimes I happen to see an accident or something else that only local people will understand, in those instances I tweet German because everybody who doesn’t live in the local area isn’t affected. When I visit a German event, I tweet German too. I believe it’s better for the event. If you follow me, you will notice that every time I happen to go to such an event, I send a message and apologize for the higher amount of German tweets in advance. I feel that this is polite and it shows appreciation to my followers. After all, that’s what I would like to be perceived as. Polite, nice, intelligent, someone who has goals and has a life. But do you know what? I don’t have to play all of this. I am polite, nice, and intelligent. I certainly have goals. And I have a life.
So, do people follow who you want to be or do they follow you as a whole human being? I think they follow you as a whole being. Let’s take Gabe as an example. I think he’s a smart guy and currently I want to follow what he’s up to, so I follow his blog and tweets. I am more interested in the tech stuff, but as you may know, he’s also into beer, which I’m not. But I can appreciate him being into that topic, and in that regard occasionally read an article about beer. Why? Because that stuff is interesting too and the way he writes it, is always from his point of view. That means that I get to know something, which I’m not into, from the viewpoint of someone who shares my viewpoint in other things. And that is what makes these articles interesting.
Here’s a quote to convince you:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Elbert Hubbard
Therefore. This is how I handle curation and social media at the moment. Note that things will change and I won’t write about it anymore. This was supposed to give an insight into how other people perceive you.
Twitter is personal and business-y. The messages I write by myself are personal, the articles I share are mostly business related.
Facebook is my business network. I usually don’t share personal messages there. Recommendations are business related. I keep this profile as private as necessary.
This blog is not business related. Stuff that I publish and recommend here is stuff I am personally interested in. Technology, productivity, geekery, etc..
The zCasting 3000 blog is business related in terms of I publish stuff there that is related to the business of zCasting 3000.
Since I’ve been checking out GitHub clients for OS X, I also wanted to see what’s hot on iOS at the moment. CodeHub is impressive. It’s a fully featured iOS client. It has support for organizations, it integrates issues, and exploring of GitHub repos. Fully featured indeed. The thing is free. Give the developer, [@thedillonb](https://mobile.twitter.com/thedillonb), a shoutout to show your appreciation!
Fear- foe or friend?: Kyle Kesterson at TEDxSeattle
From the video:
I went to a really deep depression. I locked myself in my room for months. It was at the thick of this depression, I came across an artist. His work is super dark; it’s twisted. Yet it managed to capture my angst and it moved me to pick up a pen and start scribbling. And through copying much of his work and others I began to teach myself how to draw, how to paint, then sculpt, craft, and build. And it was through art and creative expression that I started to release all unwanted of what had been pent up inside of me. As I gave my fears faces it felt as if I had the power to control them.
Being able to create something from nothing. And then share it with the rest of the world. This made me feel valuable.
We all have fears that we fight to conquer. We work to subdue. I still haven’t conquered that fear. Sometimes I still just don’t feel good enough. But I pick up a pen and I start doodling.
Having fear is OK, and part of being a human, but greatness comes from people who fight their fears consciously and continuously. When you feel that something is pushing you back, and no matter what you keep pursuing what you are doing.
"A tool for editing version-control repository history reposurgeon enables risky operations that version-control systems don’t want to let you do, such as editing past comments and metadata and removing commits. It works with any version control system that can export and import git fast-import streams, including git, hg, bzr, CVS, and RCS. It can also read Subversion dump files directly and can thus be used to script production of very high-quality conversions from Subversion to any supported DVCS."
When I was debugging for Markdown for Keyboard Maestro (v 2.1.3) I needed a way to slow down my Internet connection so that I can find possible problems with timeouts for the New Link macro. This is a post by Craig Hockenberry on how the connection can be slowed down. There are some easy to use methods like Speed Limit and Slowy app, but OS X’s firewall can also be used to slow down the connection speed. The advantage of Slowy is that it also simulates packet loss, which I think is a great feature for such an app. It’s rare that developers optimize for slow connection speed.
Since so much stuff has changed since 2.0, I also recorded a screencast showcasing changes in 2.1 and 2.2.
I’m sure there are bugs! If you want to help, head over to the issues page on GitHub. I can’t tell if I’ll be able to respond in time, as other things are more important in my life, but feel free to post bugs and/or improvement requests.
List 1, 2, 3: This macro now allows you to dynamically change a list from and to other list styles, e.g. going from ordered to numbered, and vice versa. To change a list, simply change the first character of the list to: *, -, +, 1, 1., or any other number. (Thanks go to @pslobo for his great help!)
ForMd: @drbunsen has granted permission to include ForMd in this library. It is not required to have a separate installation anymore. Therefore: the formd submodule has been removed, as has been the formd macro, and the old Link Inlines to References macro has also been replaced by ForMd. It is now simply called Flip Link Style (ForMd). You can easily switch link styles as you go!
Fixed: Quote macro used to not replace empty lines with >. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Updated: Macros based on Brett Terpstra’s Markdown Service Tools have been updated to v2.11.
This story is heart-breaking. A math teacher uses anonymous ballots to find the lonely children in her classes.
Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
How OmniFocus Almost Lost Me (A GTD App Comparison)
Gabe has posted how he revises his approach to task management, which I would have ignored, if not Sven pointed it out.
I did the same thing last year, when OmniGroup released a brand new version of OmniFocus for iPhone. A paid upgrade, which caused me to question whether OmniFocus still is king of task management. I was wondering what the competition was doing and so I looked for alternatives.
Trello is great because it follows a different approach than Getting Things Done. Kanban is interesting, but it’s just not for me. While Kanban is great for team work, I find it not as appropriate for personal task management. By personal I mean personal more in the context of “me personally”, which includes my professional as well as my private life.1
What I also don’t like is that Trello is a web-based app. There’s just too much clicking involved. I know their keyboard shortcuts are extensive, but when I use Trello, I click more than I would like to. Adding tasks after tasks is tedious. Looking at multiple projects too. When I want to compare whether project A or project B needs more love, I need to open two boards in two tabs and move the windows around and whatnot.
I use Trello for certain projects now, and I play with the idea to use it for zCasting 3000 in the future, but it is not the tool I settled with, for me personally.
First, the name is great. Second, the app is great. Asana comes pretty close to a wonderful GTD app, but it’s lacking in so many ways. It’s web based, which I just explained why this is a general downside for me. With Asana I can create multiple projects and manage subtasks inside, but what I like about OmniFocus is that I can have lists within lists within lists within lists. It’s easy to just take one of these lists and drag it to the sidebar to create a project out it. With Asana there’s a limit to how deeply nested lists can go. The lack of a really good iOS app is also a downside for me. A third-party app named Hill88 makes up for the disappointing iPhone app created by Asana.
Todo Pro is native, it has a lot of features, the basic version is free, and there’s more to it that I loved. The free version has so many features that I barely have a need for a subscription. I highly recommend you check out Todo Pro. What Todo Pro lacks is polish. The app is feels at home on iOS and OS X, but there are so many rough design edges. When I use the app it feels great, but then there are so many small things that don’t work as I intend them to, or are awkward, or just plain ugly. I give Todo Pro that it has collaboration. Considering my plans with zCasting 3000, collaboration is a selling point, but for my personal task management I’d like a native and well designed app.
Taskwarrior is amazing! Why? Because it’s so nerdy! Taskwarrior uses plain text files to manage tasks. The interface runs on the command line and is so hard to use that it’s a joy to learn.2 Taskwarrior is similar to todo.txt, but it offers more capability than todo.txt. I give todo.txt that it has plugins, which make it really really cool, but from my tests I liked Taskwarrior better. What put me off was the integration with OS X and iOS. I’d like to get notifications, for example. I don’t look at my command line to see when a task is due. I’d like to have it on the screen, right in front of my face.
The following apps I didn’t even test, because of various reasons. Either they are ugly, HTML5-based “native” apps, or something else.
Things is actually a really good app, but I tested it so many times in the past already… I just don’t like it.
A word on outliners and mind mapping
While I’m really into mind mapping, you may wonder why I’m not using it to get my stuff done. The reason is simple: managing tasks in these apps gets tedious. No notifications, and setting these apps up in a way to actually do task management, as opposed to their intended use, is way to cumbersome.
Apps not tested
I didn’t test the following apps, because I finally settled with OmniFocus. I tested so much stuff over the course of a month that I just decided my time is not worth trying out more.
Remember The Milk
I want to mention xPlan and OmniPlan separately, because as project management apps they stick out in a task management app comparison. I use OmniPlan to get a glimpse of what zCasting 3000, or even I, will be doing over the next year(s). It is something I use, to give people an idea where we’re heading. A project management app helps me to create timelines. Such an app helps me to break bigger goals down into smaller and smaller, more manageable, ones.
That said, I was intrigued by the idea to use OmniPlan for my personal task management. As it turns out, the tasks are just too small, too granular, to fit in a plan for the next year.
Why OmniFocus won me back
OmniFocus just does what I need from a personal task management tool. I can enter a task, give it a start date, then the task hides away. Later, when the day comes around to do the task, suddenly that task appears, I remember why I originally put it there and I can work on it again. OmniFocus allows me to create folders, projects, and task lists. Three very useful and distinctive things. Folders are for my “areas of responsibility”. Projects are just that. Projects come and go within an area of responsibility. I use task lists extensively throughout my week to get my day-to-day work done.
There’s more. Let’s not forget that OmniFocus has AppleScript support. I know AppleScript is not everybody’s favorite. Python is a really good and popular (scripting) language at the moment, but, I don’t know, I’m just more of an AppleScripter. Also there’s Chris’ Templates.scpt script which makes awesome things.
OmniFocus also has comments, which may be an underestimated feature for some. But having the ability to give a task any length of text (with formatting) is highly useful. Making meeting notes is super important to me. When I go back to a task, that I had deferred previously, it is good to know what caused the deferral. I use a TextExpander snippet called “update”, it inserts some “----" along with the current date and time. I also use external Attachments, and a script to copy a Mail.app’s mail URL to the clipboard.
Last but not least I like that OmniFocus allows me to “focus” and “zone in” on something. It has Perspectives. I can look at my life at different angles. Something highly useful so that I can work on my Priorities.
This is why OmniFocus is the king (or queen?) of task management for me.
Managing tasks doesn’t stop when my office closes. It would be as if I stop existing right after my professional work is done. ↩