Thursday, September 29, 2016

I've switched! From Remember the Milk to Workflowy for my to-dos

For organizing myself, I use my to-do list, and have done for years. I had it in my paper binder/organizer for years, then in my old Palm Pilot for many years, till 2010, when I switched to an Android phone, and also switched to the Remember the Milk task tracking app. It was a great app, very full-featured, with great support and a great website. It was a paid app, $25/year. I sent in a few tips for their "Tuesday Tips" contest, and one of them won a year's additional membership! That was exciting.

Anyway, I'd been thinking for a while that the app was a little too restrictive. For instance, I wanted to order the things on my to-do list. But other than setting a priority of 1, 2, or 3, that wasn't possible. You could hack it by putting fake letters in front of the to-do (for instance, a - buy bananas would sort over b - call mom). But that was pretty unsatisfactory. They had developed a new version, which included hierarchy and sorting, but I wasn't successful using it.

So after a lot of searching around, I've moved completely away from a to-do app at all. I'm now just using Workflowy, an online outlining tool. And I love it! It's a completely different concept from a to-do list. Instead of a list of to-dos, with various attributes like priority, due date, etc, it's a hierarchical information manager, with a great interface, very clean and minimal. One of my top level hierarchies is To-Do. Indenting/outdenting, moving things around - it's all very easy.

I'm sold on it. It's a free product until you add more than 500 list items a month, and once you get over 450 a month, there's a very sleek unobtrusive message box at the bottom telling you "450 of 500 free list items added". I'm skirting on the edge now, but I'm going to have to upgrade to paid membership pretty soon, which I'm okay with ($50/year).

I don't only use it for outlining, but also for tracking and organizing all kinds of things. For instance, my new business SQLPracticeProblems is managed almost entirely in Workflowy (a different section from the to-dos).

I don't use some of the more advanced features (tags, etc), but I may work up to that at some point. Right now I'm enjoying the flexibility of using an outlining tool, instead of a to-do app. I briefly considered OneNote, but it's a little too feature-rich and cluttered.

Actually, just now I did a tiny bit of research, because it strikes me that $50/year, paid every year, is actually a good chunk of money. I just took a look around at some other tools. So far, none have struck me as the right combination of usability and a clean/uncluttered look.

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