As of late I’ve been pretty deep in a geekified wormhole evaluating various solutions and applications for streamlining my life and business organization. In a nutshell, I’m outgrowing my fairly basic systems of to-do lists, calendars, etc. which are spread across various Excel sheets, spiral-bound notebooks and emails to myself. It’s worked for me for a long time, but in these crazy days of always having more to do and less time to do it, it’s just stretching thin. So with some trepidation I have entered the world of productivity and time management applications.
In the past I’ve spent a fair amount of time and resources looking at (and in some cases using) project management software for business projects (Studiometry, Billing, Daylite, Bento, etc.) but I’ve never really checked out productivity or time management apps until now. For various reasons I feel ready to take the leap — but I will say that researching the possible solutions is incredibly time-consuming. Whew!
I’m by no means done, but I did find a cool product that I thought I’d share with you today: TodoMapper. For reasons I’ll describe in a moment it won’t work for me, but I think it has a lot of potential. At a minimum it would be fun to play around with, even if it couldn’t play a major role in organizing my life and business. And maybe it will be developed down the road, so if you’re interested in productivity or mind mapping software, keep an eye on it. If new versions give it even just a few critical features/functions, it could really be great.
So here are the priority items that I’ve been looking for:
- to-do lists that are accessible across my laptop and iPhone, and whatever other devices I may use
- a calendar I can share with my husband and others
- ideally some integration between the to-do lists and calendars, so I can schedule and add due dates to to-do items, and
- the info for all the above would also reside locally on my devices in case I can’t get online.
When I got started looking for the above I also re-stumbled across mind mapping software, which got me excited about the idea of mind mapping functions integrated with to-do lists. The mind mapping part is definitely not essential for me, but I thought I’d at least look to see what was out there. Mostly I didn’t find good integration of mind-mapping with to-do functions — but I found TodoMapper to be intriguingly close.
First, the bad news. Here’s why TodoMapper won’t work for me:
- It’s cloud-only (all the data lives on a server, not on my computer) so if I didn’t have online access I wouldn’t have my info.
- There is basically NO documentation or support. Not even a knowledgebase or an FAQ with any details about how to use the software. Just a few “tour” videos that have no audio! They’re marginally helpful but a far, far cry from enough.
- Overall, preferences and features are really lacking. View options are particularly weak.
But, I will say the concept of TodoMapper is closest to the vision I had, in that it really marries mind mapping with a to-do list. Each item/node you add to the mind map is by default a to-do item, mostly by virtue of a checkbox right on the node. And you can assign dates to the to-do items too. Unfortunately the calendar isn’t syncable with iCal, Google calendar or whatever. (The TodoMapper website promises “Google integration” but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe I missed it. Uh, documentation please?) Your maps/lists are also sharable with other people which is cool.
Another thing to note is that if you’re into the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology, TodoMapper has some features to support that such as being able to manage contexts, use “focus” views, filter/search, etc.
If TodoMapper 1) integrated with Google Calendar or iCal, and 2) kept info locally on my computer and was syncable across devices, and 3) had more and better features, preferences and view settings, and (a big one) 4) if there were reasonable documentation/support, I’d love TodoMapper.
Moving on, I’m pretty much going to let go of the mind mapping function. Syncable, shareable and schedulable to-do lists are the main priority. Also, I gave up on finding anything that integrates with Google calendar and plan to go back to using iCal. While I found no to-do apps that directly interface with Google calendar, lots of them work with iCal. So why fight it? I’m done.
Please note: I’m only half geek so if I described something wrong, please correct me and accept my apologies. And hey, if you have any ideas, suggestions or direction for me in my quest for technology-supported organizational nirvana, lay ’em on me.