Some of my clients agonize over which time and task management tools they should use. Paper or electronic? PC or Mac? Synched up to their existing calendars or not? They try one thing, and then another, and often they end up not using any of them. They are intent on finding the BEST one before committing to ANY of them, which is nearly impossible with the hundreds of choices out there.
Here’s what I tell them: The BEST tool is the one you USE. Try a couple, sure, but don’t spend your life trying them ALL, and feeling like you made the wrong decision….and continuing to be disorganized in your management of tasks. You are not missing out on The Perfect App.
I’ve been testing a new-to-me app called Priority Matrix. It was a pretty cursory test, and my free trial just expired. I have no intention of purchasing it. But that’s only because I have declared a moratorium on all unnecessary tech spending. I do like to try new things in the name of research, but they take time, brain cells, and often money. I wasn’t looking for a new tool when I found it, and I don’t need a new tool. I’m still happy with WorkFlowy, which I described in an update at the end of this review of Fractal Planner. WorkFlowy is basically just a big ol’ glorified list, which works great for me.
But I do like Priority Matrix, and want to give them credit for being a flexible tool that can be used in a wide variety of applications. You can use it for project tracking, idea management, and delegation. It fits with a number of popular styles of task management that you may already be using, or want to try. Such as:
- Pros & Cons
- Brain Dump (Everything, To Dos)
- Basic Priority matrix (Do now, Do later, Delegate, Postpone)
- SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats)
- Eisenhower Method (popularized by Steven Covey): Critical & Urgent, Critical but not Urgent, Urgent but not Critical, Uncategorized
- GTD (David Allen’s Getting Things Done Method): Time-Driven — Critical & High Priority; Energy Driven – Critical & Low Effort, Critical & High Effort, Collection Bin…..OR……Runway, 1000 meters, 10,000 meters, Uncategorized
- Retroactive Project Analysis (Planned & Successful, Unplanned & Successful, Planned & Failed, Unplanned & Failed)
- Porter’s Four Corners Model (Motivation-Drivers, Motivation-Assumptions, Actions-Strategy, Actions- Capabilities) which I’m sure is lovely but which I have personally never heard of.
My point here is not that you should subscribe to Priority Matrix. Or that you shouldn’t.
My point is that there are ANY NUMBER of ways to manage your time and tasks. Just look at the list above!
ALL of these particular methods can be used without apps by drawing a matrix on a piece of paper.
Pick one or create your own. (You can learn about my Chinese Menu Time Management Technique here. Or perhaps you’d prefer to read about my Patented French Door Mind Dump Sooner or Later Technique here.)
Just remember: The BEST tool is the one you USE.
Do you struggle with choosing tools and systems? Or are you happy with the ones you use?
Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.
I researched a number of task management apps before I found one that was right for me. It’s called Swift To Do List, and you’ll find a full review of it on my blog – it’s one of my most popular posts, confirming that a lot of people are looking for The Perfect App.
I checked out Swift To Do List when you mentioned it. Not fully, though. I’m sure it’s great if you say it is. Thanks for the reminder of your blog post. I added a sentence to my post based on your comment. Can you spot it? 😉
It is great, but I don’t love it as much as I did when I first started using it.
I read your post again, but I can’t spot the added sentence!
Another colleague always reminds me that the right system is the one you TRUST and the one you USE. I’ve noticed that productive people use very different systems, but commit to them 100%. You’ve gotta go “all in” with whatever tool you choose.
Trust is a really good point. If your system lets you down, then of course you need to figure out why and tweak it, or find a new one. (But it doesn’t have to be an app.)
I am so old school and really like the hard copy planners that are available, but I really should try a free trial like you did. Thanks for the information.
Nothing wrong with a paper planner! And it is fun to try new things for free. Usually there is a learning curve, that can be frustrating, and people (including me) give up too soon on a perfectly good tool, such as the one they already have paid for.
With my new focus on one branch of my business, I need to revisit these task management apps to figure out if one would work better than what I am doing now. There are so many options out there that taking the time to try them before investing in them is best. I like to take advantage of the trial offers to see if I can use the product the way I want. Thanks for the advice, Hazel.
Just curious….what are you using now, and what branch of your business?
I’m a paper traditionalist when it comes to task management, but love the overview you’ve provided here Hazel! It’s always good to know what is out there and available to share with our audience and clients. I love, love, love what you said: The best tool is the one you use! Organizing and task/time management aren’t one-size-fits-all, so find one that works best for you and use it! Great job!
Great post Hazel. I love the tweetable about the best task management system being the one you use. That is key. I’ve gone back to paper although I use Todoist for must do items in the future. I only have a few things on that app – and they are out of mind until I need to be reminded. What I love is Todoist will send me a daily reminder via email until I clear the task.
I haven’t tried too many task management apps as I always revert back to my good ol’ paper and planner. Somehow I don’t get the satisfaction if I don’t use a pen and draw that big black line across a completed task! Clicking a button just doesn’t do it for me. Occasionally, I have used Todoist and I do like their motivational karma points system. Thanks for your insights on the tools you’ve tried, Hazel!