chrisadas.com

Get stuffs done with Astrid, Tasker and Producteev on Android

Note: I manage my tasks they way that feels natural to me, not following any of the GTD methods.

Note: I'm too lazy to hide my tasks and create illustrative ones for this post, so screenshots below are not mine and gathered from the interweb.

 

When I switched to Android from iPhone earlier this year, I found the experience not as painful as I thought it might be. Losing my "investment" in apps was not such a big deal. The total money most people spent on apps are negligible compared to handset price. And, apart from games, I was able to find equal or better replacement apps on Android. Except for my favorite to-do apps, Awesome Note. http://www.bridworks.com/anote/en/main/index.php

I use AN for work stuffs – each current client gets their own task list, managing my various bills, grocery list, and blog ideas.

I liked the work flow in AN, the ease of zooming in on different task lists when I'm at different client's office or supermarket. And I really like the separate 'today' section. In the morning, I go through the lists and set the due dates for stuffs I want to tackle immediately to today, then I can focus on these tasks (from different task lists) without being distracted by the other plethora of stuffs which I don't plan to tackle yet anyway.

It took me a few weeks of trial and error with half a dozen apps, to develop a new work flow on Android which feels intuitive. It is also WAY more powerful, thanks to Android's ability to let apps work together.

In the end, these are the tools I use:

  • Astrid – as the base task manager
  • Astrid Power Pack – I need this for the recurring tasks feature
  • Tasker – To alert me of to-do for a particular client when I am near their office. (very cool)
  • Producteev – This is a webapp, to allow faster task input 
  • WidgetLocker – to put the Pure Calendar widget on lock screen
  • Pure Calendar widget – to place my tasks together with calendar item on a widget

Astridmarket link

This doesn't need much introduction. If you are a new Android user asking around for recommendation on task managers, Astrid will be among those first few suggestions. One thing that makes Astrid stands out is – Yes, it's the squid – the tenacity in which it keeps reminding you of tasks that need to get done is marvelous. The darn squid keeps popping up on the notification bar, with reminders that range from a mild 'Time to start:" to a more agressive "Don't be lazy"

And they won't go away with the 'clear all' button. You need to pay attention to the squids individually, either doing the task it commands you to do, set a new deadline, or hit "go away", which does drive the squid away, for a while, before it comes back to haunt you. Darn squids. It's perfect.

Astrid Power Packmarket link

What I really need from the power pack is recurring tasks and full screen widget. I hardly ever use the add task with voice, but it's good to know it's there.

Taskermarket link

With Tasker, I'm able to set set a notification to fire up whenever, say, I am arriving at a client's office. And the notification will tell me what tasks I have set that are related to this particular client. (Of course, I have to tag these tasks appropriately for this to work.)

To set this up, you need to create 'Location' context in tasker. Location can be detected in several way. I choose to use 'Net', which uses mobile cell location, as the 500m or 1 km accuracy is enough for this. Then, add 'Astrid Filter Alert' task from 'Plugin' group. Select the tag you want to include in the alert, and voila!

 

Note: I think you can achieve similar result with Astrid Locale Add-on. However, I see more negative than positive reviews on Locale, which also cost a few extra dollar. I already paid for Tasker, so for me it's the obvious choice.

Producteevlink

The above combination is pretty powerful, but it still relies on tasks being entered and tagged correctly. And while I wouldn't call Astrid UI clunky, it is still not the most elegant. I am especially annoyed with the fact that whenever the on-screen keyboard is visible, it leaves very little vertical space left in Astrid, which makes it very difficult to scroll up and down on the 'new task' page. And my screen is already 4.3".

Here is where a web interface makes a lot of sense. I like the idea of entering tasks on my PC or laptop, then have them sync automatically to my phone. Currently, Astrid offer 2 options for syncing: Google Tasks and Producteev. I first tried Google Task, as I'm quite wary of signing up for yet another web application. However, Google Task is just too simple and doesn't support many of the features that I need (tagging, recurring, prioritizing) making it not suitable. 

Without other choice, I signed up for Producteev and sync. Producteev looks to be a capable product on itself. And as my "web interface for Astrid" it is working very well. The tags are synced seamlessly, and I have not noticed any conflicting sync on the task status or notes so far. (The sync seems to respect "latest win")

Another big plus for Producteev is the natural language task entering, similar to those in Google Calendar. I can type "submit expense report Friday 4pm ##work" and the task "submit expense report" will be added, with the correct deadline and tagged "work". It's just brilliant and makes entering tasks much easier. Almost fun.

That's it. That's how I'm keeping track of my to-do right now. Now that I've finished this post, I can cross another item off.