As a freelance developer I usually have 3 or more projects going on at once. Plus requests from established clients to do touch ups. Plus other ventures. Plus all the other daily tasks that one has. For a long while I struggled with keeping it all together – managing the To-Do lists for so many activities. Different priorities, different timelines – finding a way to see it all is a problem too.
Outlook is overkill. The Palm is nice, but I type so much faster than Graffiti works. And any solution that stores the data on my PC means I have to sync between desktop, laptop, and PDA.
Enter RememberTheMilk.com, a small start-up in Australia. It’s a fine example of what Web 2.0 can do. RtM lets you arrange your tasks by category, assign priorities, and mark things as done or postponed (adds a day to the due date). And it does all this through a clean, quick web interface. Yeah, big deal. You can do that with Google calendar and any of the desktop widget packages, all of which store tasks on the web for you. True enough.
But do they allow you to set the due date in natural language (i.e. “next saturday”)? Do they have free-tagging of tasks? Can you associate links and notes with a task? Do they have keyboard shortcuts? No, they don’t. In fact, RtM does things that I wish a lot of desktop PIM’s did.
RtM allows you to share task lists, so it makes a nice collaboration – or at least delegation – tool. But the feature that’s positively wizard is that they allow you to associate a task with a location. And the locations are shown through Google Maps right within the RtM interface. So if you have a pile of errands to run around town, you can actually see where the stops you have to make are that day. It’s a brilliant feature that I’m amazed no one thought of before.
There is support for an RSS feed of your tasks, there’s a nice “Overview” mode which pulls together all your tasks for Today, Tomorrow, and that are Overdue. Searches can be saved into what are called “Smart Lists.” The only thing it doesn’t have is drag-and-drop – which can make things a little awkward sometimes if you need to do something to a group of items. There’s a check-box-and-action-menu metaphor which works, but you still find yourself wishing you could just drag an item to a day on a calendar view, or to a category tab.
Still, it’s really an amazing service. And it’s free. I’m sure someone will come along and acquire this little gem, the authors deserve to get rich off it. It’s splendid work.