Megan Leigh McDonald
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'Don't make me think.' Steve Krug

Megan Leigh McDonald

Task apps, a brief rant

I’m looking specifically at the free version of GTasks which is rated at an average of 4.5 stars in the Google Play Store (26,812 reviews). I don’t mean to pick on GTasks, which has quite a nice, fluid interface. I’m focusing on it mostly because it seems to be one of the more often recommended, highly rated and it synchs with Google tasks. As time allows, I’ll try out and evaluate a few other task apps over the coming weeks.

At any rate, there are two things missing that would really improve my overall task management abilities.

1. No sense of “dependencies” or sequencing of tasks that relate. A task should either break down into sub-tasks or allow a way to link tasks together in either ordered or unordered. An ordered list allows for a parent to own a specific sequence of children or siblings, which allows the user to keep track of complexities. Ask any mother of 3 if her life is complex enough to need to do this and I’m betting her answer is a resounding “yes”. Although of course I defer to research over my gut instinct and personal experience (“I am not my users”).

An unordered bucket of related tasks allows for the fluidity to tackle tasks as they come up or to decide on importance of specific tasks at a later time.

2. Prioritization overload. Seems like one can prioritize tasks by dimensions of both date/time and urgency. The problem is those two are not very different. If assign dates to my tasks, then by default anything marked for “today” already is urgent. Looking at a long list of about twenty items for today and seeing 5 of them as urgent isn’t really helpful. I would want to know to what degree each is urgent relative to one another, not to mention the rank order of all other “non urgent” tasks.

A better interaction here would be to allow a drag/drop rank order so they can be put in order of importance within today’s (or tomorrow’s or next week’s) timeframe.

Pair the two solutions above and we have got my “nearly perfect” application for managing tasks.