[preceding Task Management Article if you're looking for some back story]
Still bouncing around from one task manager to the other, trying to find on that makes me feel the most in control. One of the things I finally realized I was missing was the ability to make hierarchical task lists like I used to do with OneNote [previous mentions]. I do these with projects in our development wiki, but I’m finally willing to confess that mediawiki’s wiki markup is just a big ol’ pain in the butt for this sort of thing. Editing a huge hierarchical list of tasks just to make a small update or put an x in a “[ ]” is beyond tedious.
Now, I dunno if this is the proper way to do things, but for development tasks I like to build a bit of an outline as a task list. It might start one dimensional, but as ideas pop up, or requirements are fleshed out, that list often gains a few levels. Probably not GTD approved, but it works well for me. An idea strikes, an email shows up or a phone call ends and I just pop over to the list with my new tasks, add ‘em to the proper section and get back to work, comfortable in the knowledge that I won’t forget to take care of it when the time comes. This method works very well with OneNote and can work well with a mediawiki if it doesn’t get too complex. I use too many machines right now to be buying/networking OneNote all over the place, and I already shared some thoughts on wiki formatting.
This evening I decided to have a look at a few task managers I’ve used recently or in the past and see if they could offer anything towards indents or hierarchy. Would it finish my project faster? Nope, but sure seemed more interesting and I figured an hour or two of not coding would be a welcome break.
First stop, Backpack (image to the left). This is the one that all the cool web 2.0 kids love to rave about (<grin>). I started a new task list and experimented with adding items with different preceding punctuation. Not much luck though, as the picture shows.
Basically, leading spaces are stripped. 2 -’s get you a hyphen. Multiple _’s get pared down to one. Hmm, no way that I could see to force a multi-level outline without going to *’s or something. I checked the formatting guide, but didn’t see anything leap out at me there either. Just to be interesting, a post in the forums led me to discover sproutliner… (something that looks interesting, but not quite sure it’s what I’m after).
Next stop was to WallNote (image to the right). Again, leading spaces are stripped. However, dashes aren’t converted to hyphens so there’s some potential use for indenting there to consider. I think I could make that work if need be. WallNote is a great little product for Task and Note tracking. Very simple, yet what’s there is great and does exactly what it needs to do.
Where to go from here? Well, how about Netvibes (image to the left)? This is what I’ve been using for “simple non-project” task management lately (combines with wiki for all the fancy stuff). Not sure about leading spaces; my guess is that regardless of the number, you just get one. Dashes and underscores work with no major surprises. Wish I could change the font though, for some odd reason, trying to make this one look like an outline by using dashes feels a bit more forced than the others. But it could work and it has the advantage of being part of the thing I have open most of the day for RSS tracking to boot. Notes tracking in Netvibes is passable. Nothing fancy — about the equivalent of keeping a .txt document on your desktop, I suppose. But it works.
Ok, finally, I popped into Zohoplanner to have a look at how things worked with this one. And we just might have a winner here! Check it out: 1 dash gets you 1 bullet indent. 2 and 3 are predictable too. 4 dashes gets a solid line across the task list, with the text below it. An interesting way to, perhaps, section off part of a list? Just like the others, leading spaces are killed, but underscores are preserved until you get to 4, then they’re removed as well. Not sure it matters as I think I found my outliner.
So there you go: right now it looks like I’ll spend a bit of time moving some stuff from wiki to Zohoplanner tomorrow. That’ll make it so much easier to rearrange “sub-tasks” that I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. But… did I miss any other great tools that I should be looking at? Drop a comment if you have a suggestion for a simple, web based and accessible app that would fit the bill.
Possibly Related posts: