Some time ago I was looking for a new to-do list tool that would allow me to share to-dos with my colleagues. I already had good tools for myself at that time, however they did not allow me to share to-dos with others and work on tasks together.
Nearly everyone works in some kind of team on large tasks. Usually there is one guy who will do the managing and keep an overview over what has to be done and inform the team-members regularly. Alternatively, the team meets regularly and discusses how to handle the tasks at hand without a central managing person. However, the result of this way of work is often that every team member will write his own to-do-list, sometimes team members might even have a different understanding of tasks or do not have all the information required. Wouldn't it be great if a team could share a common to-do-list and everyone could view and update information within it?
For personal single-person use I already have a to-do list tool I use all the time: OmniFocus. It works great, allows me to organize my to-dos the way I prefer and integrates very well with my other Mac applications. However, it does not enable me to share tasks.
A lot of people and organizations use Microsoft Outlook for the task I described. However, in order to synchronize tasks among computers you need an Exchange Server and Outlook or Entourage, which are all quite expensive pieces of software.
Requirements for the tool I imagine
As I already mentioned, this article is all about sharing to-dos. I want to be able to share things read-only, read-and-write and I want to be able to track what's happening. That's an easily defined requirement, however it seems that it is one of the most difficult requirements to fulfull as none of the tested tools really does what I want in this area.
Hierarchies of to-dos
It's important for me to create hierarchies of to-dos as I believe that all larger projects work that way: There is a big thing that has to be done, so you split it into smaller ones. This is a must-have feature in my opinion.
Tasks should have a due date associated with them. Sometimes, a begin-date would also be great, but that's not that important. If a task is overdue it should be clearly visible (e.g. turn red) so that the team members notice it.
It's obvious that some tasks might require some deeper information associated with them. This is even more true if you work in a team as not every team member knows everything all the others know.
Priorities are closely related to due dates, but they are not the same. If no task has to be done by a certain date, there will still be tasks which are more important than others.
Review of tools
Remember the milk
Remember the milk is a great tool for organizing one's tasks - but how good is it at sharing tasks?
If you want to share tasks with someone, you first have to add him/her to your "Contacts" page, which is quite straight-forward if you know the correct username. Afterwards, you can share any task list with that person - you can also make task lists public or publish them read-only to your contacts.
- Very well established to-do-list tool
- Easy to use (also the sharing-features)
- It is not possible to set who is responsible for a task, however this could be established using tags
- No hierarchies of tasks
- Screen gets crowded if there are lots of tasks
Task2Gather is a nice tool I discovered due to an article at lifehacker.com. It contains all the features I described: it allows painless sharing of tasks and you can also organize them in hierarchies, projects, colors. Tasks can have descriptions, deadlines, responsible persons, etc. In the beginning, the interface seems at bit complicated to me, however after a few minutes I figured everything out and now I like it very much.
- Sharing and assigning of tasks possible and easy!
- Lots of features
- Interface requires some time to get used to.
Tools I did not review in-depth
Some tools I had a look at, but they were not included in the list because they did not fulfill one or more of the core requirements:
- Todoist: No task sharing.
- Voo2Do: The task list contains a person-collumn, however there is no real sharing. It only allows sharing if you use the same username/password. Also, it allows to publish to-do lists.
- Google Wave: Not a task-management tool in the first place, but it was made for sharing any kind of content, so I gave it a try. There is even the Google Wave Tasky Extension that should make sharing tasks painless and easy. However, the interface feels much too overloaded and in my opinion, it is much too hard to get an overview.
- Google Mail Task list: No real sharing feature except for emailing tasks. That is not enough.
I'm not really happy with either solution. Depending on the complexity of the organization / project I would either choose remember the milk or task2gather. However, if anybody knows a perfect solution for me, please let me know.