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Card-based productivity software

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Posted by Hugh
Feb 1, 2016 at 06:08 PM

 

Hello Andy,

My requirements are probably similar to many other people’s, but for what it’s worth I’ll lay them out for you.

I have a range of tasks and activities which I need to plan. At one end of the scale, there are “hard-landscape” (in the jargon of David Allen and GTD) duties and appointments, which I schedule in my Mac Calendar. Alongside them are relatively minor short-term-schedulable and repetitive or non-repetitive items, for which I use Due. Then there are more major non-schedulable or “soft-landscape” tasks, for which I use Omnifocus 2 (I know that, with two “trusted systems”, this transgresses one of the GTD principles, but…); I have in the past tried similar list-based task-management applications such as 2Do, Things and Todoist. Finally, there are major longer-term schedulable or non-schedulable tasks, usually involving writing and editing, of which I do quite a lot, for which I also use Omnifocus 2, but have in the past used various project-management Gantt-chart applications, such as Omniplan and MS Project, and also kanban software such as Trello (or as you call it, card-based).

I do like the principles behind the kanban/card-based approach (in another context, I was first involved in writing about it in relation to companies in Japan in the 1980s). But I’ve several issues with it as it is currently offered to us (or, possibly in the way that I currently use it…). One is that, at least on the Mac, with the exception of your software and, I think, Kanban Kit,  it is all online. Call me old-fashioned, but for reasons of security and access, for productivity planning with vulnerable data I like all my key software to be on my computer.

Another issue is that very few of the available kanban applications have iPad or iPhone applications, although of course the presence of nearly all of them on the Internet overcomes this problem, to an extent. Yet another issue is that the kanban apps aren’t particularly well suited to dealing with long lists of small tasks. Another - important for me when writing - is that most don’t easily indicate to you whether or not you’re going to “miss your deadline”. I know that some use various means to show that due dates are near, colour for example, but the means they use are not always as effective as those of, say, Omniplan or MS Project or, with a different methodology, Omnifocus 2 or 2Do. I use übersicht to place the Omnifocus tasks I have that are “on deadline” on my computer desktop - in my face, another words. As that implies, some of the task-based applications, Omnifocus in particular, have been around long enough to be surrounded by eco-systems of AppleScripts, macros and similar aids which at times I have found extremely useful; with the exception of IFTT and Zapier for the web-based software, very little connects the kanban apps with other applications or services.

Sometimes I think that the way to crack this would be to have software with several different views into the user’s productivity-planning data, much as writing software such as Scrivener offers different views of the same text: an editor-view, an outliner view and an index-card view. Similarly, for task-planning these could be an indented list-type view like that of Omnifocus, a Gantt-chart view like Project’s and a kanban view - but, of course, these views would only work successfully for and be of use to those users ready to bear the costs and the complexity. And if it happens at all, it’s probably some years away.

In any case, I do own a license for Hyper Plan, which in general terms I like, and I’m about to start on a project for which it may be suited…