September 12, 2009

Toodledo does more than Remember The Milk

You can't risk forgetting tasks. Maybe you’re a student back in school or a business wrapping up your fiscal year. Either way, you need a system to remember.

Last year, I looked at web-based task managers and picked Remember The Milk (see The Friendly Way: Remember The Milk and Everything Else). This year, I didn’t renew. What happened?

I switched to Toodledo instead. Here’s why.

Remember The Milk (RTM)
RTM feels friendly. You almost feel like organizing. The clean interface deceives you with its hidden power but never feels intimidating. You can even use RTM offline with Google Gears and synchronize when you’re back online. You can add tasks by email, voice (using Jott or Dial2Do), or your iGoogle homepage. You have access via your mobile phone. Some features are available only in the Pro version which costs a modest $25 US/year --- peanuts for you but bananas for mascot Bob T Monkey.

So why switch?

In real life, a task may have several steps or subtasks.

Say you want to brush your teeth but can't. You ran out of toothpaste because you didn't use an organizer before. You first need to buy toothpaste. Maybe you floss before brushing. Here's your task list
Brush teeth
a. buy toothpaste
b. floss
Get the idea? A simple sequential hierarchy helps.

RTM users have asked for subtasks since 2005. Nothing has been done and there's no workaround. Other organizers have subtasks, which puts RTM at a competitive disadvantage, but nothing was done last year.

If you’ve ever managed a project, you know there are tasks within tasks within tasks. For a big project, you might use Microsoft Project, but that’s excessive for most of us.

Enter Toodledo
What a weird name. It’s easy to say but hard to read and type Your eye sees “too”, “led” and “do” but tooledo isn’t the name. Maybe the creators were being clever and converted “to do” into “toodle do”?

Get past the name and you’re confronted with a cluttered, ugly interface. It looks like the work of engineers rather than designers. Yet there isn’t a handy search box to help you find tasks easily. Functionality over elegance.

But what functionality! Toodledo has subtasks if you upgrade to Pro for just $14.95 US/year. Here's their comparison of To Do lists.

Toodledo has a timer which helps you track time painlessly. You may have allocated 30 minutes for something and find that your estimate was grossly off. This sytem lets you see how much time you really spent. You can't access tasks offline, but there's a workaround: you can print your tasks as a booklet by folding a normal page in a clever way. You can create goal chains, a technique Jerry Seinfield uses to keep writing jokes.

Which Suits You?
You can use most features of web-based task managers for free. This helps you pick the right one for you. Do you prefer Remember The Milk, Toodledo or something else?



John said...

Hey Promod

I think it's time to update this entry...
Since 2009, Toodledo has updated their UI and, for the same price as RTM, they give you far more in terms of features. Here's just a quick summary:

a) Subtasks (which you already mentioned)
b) Notebook
c) Files (yup, up to 10GB in size)
d) Goal progess
e) Statistics (as an Actuarian, I'm sure this is something that will interest you)

But you're right, it took me a whole year to realize that something was off with RTM. It's really just darn good UI design with a hefty price tag. I think what finally made me jump ship was the lack of the subtasks feature and, worse, the fact that their loyal users have been requesting this feature for over 6 years now:

Sure, they're now in the process of asking users to join their tester program. But even then, there's no guarantee or word that the subtasks is going to be a part of their new version. In this day and age, I personally find that it's unacceptable to have such an unresponsive attitude towards paying customers.


Promod said...

Thanks for your update, John.

I'm currently using Toodledo but am not fond of the interface.

I'm puzzled at how RTM can still be successful without subtasks.