It’s fall – damn near winter – and that can only mean one thing: time to make my task management more complicated. I often use the summer to make my life simple, and then spend some time making things overly complicated. I’m always looking for a better way to handle my tasks. I’ve tried many task managers, and had gone through all of them. Or so I thought. I’ve had a few people suggest some apps to me, and I often think: do I really need another app? Apparently, the answer is yes. But this time feels different.
One of Apple’s fundamental strengths is creating software for the masses. You may scoff at this remark, but it’s true. Look at the ubiquity of Messages, Mail, and Notes: there are other apps out there for power users, apps that offer greater functionality, and apps that have better design elements in place.
And while there could be improvements to a lot of what Apple creates in their software, they have been getting better at creating apps that most users will want to use. If we take the example of Notes, we can see the potential Apple has for creating great software for most users. With the added features in iOS 10 and 11, Notes has become a powerhouse app while maintaining the usability for everyone. Over time, Music and Podcasts have gotten better.1 Mail isn’t great, but that might be more a function of email and email providers rather than Mail itself. But one of the most useful apps on iOS is in dire need of a refresh, a reimagining, and a glorious rebirth.
More “Rethinking Reminders”
After my big work trip, I immediately loaded the betas of iOS 11 and watchOS 4. I spent the whole summer showing restraint, and I just couldn’t wait any longer. So I backed everything up fully — once to iCloud and once to iTunes — and loaded them on.
What I’ve noticed in two weeks is that there are some small, subtle changes in a few key areas that have a very large and profound impact on how I use my devices. And some of them are really, really great. It’s brought me back to a place I’ve flirted with before, but now I can see my tasks with a new perspective and with a renewed focus. And it started with trying out iOS 11…
More “Keep It Simple”
This summer opened my eyes to trying new things with task management. I had a great, wonderful system, and then split it in two. Then I tried Reminders instead, and loved it even more when I got my Apple Watch. And life as I knew it was going along just fine. Until something just felt off.
I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was accomplishing what I needed, and there wasn’t really a hole in my system. Life had just gone from chaotic to simplistic. And maybe that’s why things felt wrong. I can’t explain why, but it just didn’t feel right anymore. I’m sure it’s a bit of a sickness, but I have come to realize I need to have some complexity in my life.
So I started thinking of what to do next. Did I need to try a new system? I’ve tried OmniFocus, Things, Due, etc. and nothing really stuck, despite those apps being great in their own ways. I thought about what made the Reminders experiment so great: the simplicity. But yet, when I needed to look at everything going on, it was cumbersome at best. I tried to make something work, but it just felt wrong to me. So maybe it wasn’t a problem of the tools I have and what I’m using, but rather how I’m using them (or not).
And it’s led me to a strange, crazy place.
More “The Sum of the Parts”