Tasks, lists, eye candy

I'm a bit embarrased. This is the first time I'll abandon a piece of software I've been a long-time user of, mostly on usability and design reasons -- so shallow.

I love lists, and I'm pretty forgetful. At times I'm so immersed in a job that its virtually impossible for me to keep track of more practical day-to-day tasks like "buy cat food", "bring out garbage", or "do taxes". So it's no wonder I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I don't follow a particular method, just some simple guidelines that kinda emerged:

  • Prioritize carefully. Keep the number of your #1 prios low and reserve them for the really important stuff. Typically I have only a handful of #1 prio tasks per week.
  • Set due dates for #1 prio tasks.
  • Be very scrupulous with the #1 priorities. Everything else gets done when it gets done, but the #1 prio tasks are always done on time
  • Use recurring low-prio tasks as gentle reminders: to do if you find the time, but don't feel bad when you skip one
  • Garbage collect stale tasks from time to time
  • Don't obsess

All in all this works very well for me; I usually don't miss anything critical, and although I skip a lot of the low prio. stuff at least I have them out of my system and can focus on the more important things.

I've used RememberTheMilk for years and was always pretty happy. If anything, I'd complain about the visual appeal; it always felt like a very techie application: functional-to-spartan, a bit boxy and crowded. I started to wonder about the features lately -- features are nice, but on the other hand they do take up mind space and are sometimes downright distracting. Eg. from time to time I have tagged entries, but the actual value the tags provided was pretty low. Or locations: never had a use for them for my workflow, but every time I hit the shortcut I have to deal with that feature. I'm now contemplating moving off of RTM, to something more focused and maybe prettier. I've looked at Any.DO which would fit the bill but is somewhat annoying (I'm silly myself, don't need my software to be silly for me). I've looked at Wunderlist a bit, which has all the features I want (and not much more) and is also very pretty, but there have been quite a few reports of sync issues; and I had a case of duplicated entries across devices myself. This is a big turnoff -- sync absolutely has to work flawlessly. Next up: Todoist.