When it comes to lightweight task managers, on Mac, especially, you think immediately at TaskPaper, an application provided by Hogbaysoftware. TaskPaper has a long history of reviews and good reactions. I discovered the application several months ago, when it was included in a bundle at MacHeistÂ , and that should point from the beginning that TaskPaper is a paid application. I am not a huge fan of plain text lists, most of the time I tend to implement all the concepts in GTD, including Next Actions, Contexts and Projects, but having a lightweight task management system could be useful sometimes.
So, here we are, trying to have a short review of TaskPaper.
The workflow is structured in papers, projects, and tasks. When you open TaskPaper you are presented with a screen like this:
A paper is just a file that could be managed in one instance of TaskPaper. In that file you can have multiple projects, each project with its tasks. Let’s add a project:
You can use TaskPaper with your keyboard if you are, like me, a keyboard and shortcuts fan. Adding a project is achieved by “Alt + Option + Enter”. Once a project added you can add tasks to it, by using “Option + Enter”:
Easy as pie, as you can see, and you can go like this forever, adding as many tasks as you feel comfortable with. Each task can be assigned to a context (and now we are starting to borrow some concepts from GTD) or tag. You can do this by putting “@” in front of the tag / context, whenever you want in the body of the task:
The contexts I added are “@Home” and “@Computer”. You can have multiple contexts assigned to a single task. Once a context added, it is automagically selected if you want to add contexts to other actions:
You can “swallow” the tags as real GTD contexts, if you really want, but they aren’t. In a very small and lightweight task management system you can get along with that, and thus implement the GTD workflow, but keep in mind that this is not pure GTD.
One context deserve special attention and that is the “@done” context. When you tag an action with “@done” it basically mean that you’ve finished that action:
Or, you can alternatively use the mini-check-box on the left column, which will basically add the “@done” context to the action without having you typing it.
As you can see, TaskPaper is really simple. And, to be honest, this is the thing I like most at it. Our life and all the situations we need to solve are complicated enough, so the solution for making us organized need not to be complicated too. It’s not philosophy, just common sense. As David Allen said about GTD: “it’s just common sense applied”.
The pluses I see for TaskPaper are:
- it’s fast. amazingly fast
- it’s so simple than even a child could use it for simple task management
- GTD aspirations (which are coming down to the context / tagging system) are also a plus.Â
- incomplete GTD implementation
- no notes or other types of attachments to the actions (but being plain text only, I guess this bug is a feature)
- no real next actionsÂ