Apr 16 2009

Remember The Milk Get Things Done First Impressions

I just started using some new GTD (Get Things Done) software both for work and for home. It’s called Remember the Milk and it has the ugliest, most annoying, MS paintish looking cow logo that just makes me cringe. I’ve only been using it for a little while but so far it seems useful. It has it’s strong and weak points but overall it’s looking like a promising way to get things done.

Ideally this software will increase the level of organization in my work and personal life, increase collaboration with my co-workers, and force accountability with everyone I have to deal with on a day to day basis. Mostly I’m hoping that getting all the tasks and ideas out of my head and into some database will allow me to focus more thoroughly on the task at hand.

What sucks about it :

  • The back button in the browser works for nearly nothing. Of course this is an issue with most Web 2.0 Ajax applications so I guess it’s just something we’ll all be getting used to eventually.
  • Once you share a task or a list then you can’t unshare it. The documentation says that this is because people that the item has been shared with may have changed the task or list and unsharing it would mean that the changes would be lost. I write programs like this for a living and I can’t see any reason for this. Why wouldn’t it be possible to unshare it with the changes still intact? It must have a really ugly database design or something.
  • The lists are not a very obvious way to get organized. When I first sat down with my manager and co-worker to evaluate this software we didn’t clue in that projects should be organized by lists as opposed to using the tags.
  • The web interface is far too advanced for a lot of the people I work with. I foresee a lot of simple questions and myself muttering “RTFM” way to often in the next couple of weeks. It’s not their fault. People are used to clicking a “Save” or “Submit” button every time they finish entering some data. With this software, after editing or entering a task, Ajax is used to save the field automatically either every character change or when focus moves away from the field.
  • I can’t find an option to share tasks from my iphone. If there is a way to do this then it’s very well hidden.

What is great about it :

  • It’s already installed on my iphone. I’m still a little new to the iphone so it’s novelty hasn’t worn off yet. Anything new I can do with it is a bonus. Also It has applications for both the blackberry and windows mobile based smart phones
  • I can sync my google calendar with it. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use Google calendars more often.
  • Virtual Collaboration. Everyone can express their opinion on every shared project without actually having a meeting.
  • Less interruptions. When someone has a small task that isn’t time critical then they can just post a task and send it. They don’t need to physically walk to another office space, interrupt whatever is already going on and expect it to get done.
  • Fewer critical tasks will get forgotten. No one can remember everything so we all need a way to record what we don’t want to constantly refresh. Not only does this software store it for you but it will also remind you when you want it to.
  • This application gives you an odd looking email address so that you can email tasks to yourself or others. This is especially useful when you want to delegate a task without having to open and log in to RTM (Remember The Milk).
  • Increase accountability by reducing verbal contracts. Without something like this a manager usually asks an employee to do something and the employee says ok. After a few days or weeks there is a possibility that nothing has been done about what was agreed upon and they both probably won’t even remember their conversation. The clients always end up suffering.

I’m sure I’ve still got a lot to learn about this application but those are just my first impressions on the usefulness and downfalls of this particular “get things done” application.