The Productivity App I Always Wanted: ZenTasktic

Brace yourselves, because this post will be about a productivity app. Even more, it would be about a productivity app that I absolutely love. And even even more, an app that I wrote myself: ZenTasktic. If you’re the impatient type, just follow the link below and get it in a few seconds on your device (works on iPhone, iPad or Mac), from AppStore, it’s free (as in free beer).

It does have a paid subscription, if you really want to get all the juice from it, bit more about that in a second.

A Brief History About My Productivity Obsession

If you are bored enough to browse back this blog, until, let’s say, ten years ago, there will be one topic that will stand up constantly, and that’s productivity. I’ve been absolutely obsessed with productivity – and with productivity apps, once the rise of the smartphones made them possible.

I’ve been a close follower (some would say even evangelist) of GTD, or Getting Things Done, a methodology created by David Allen. I’ve been through various techniques, like Pomodoro, and tested dozens of apps. In a coupe of years, I decided to create my own productivity framework.

The reason:each and every productivity framework, or productivity app out there was emphasizing a single area: the “Do” area. Whereas, in my personal experience, we tend to get more productive when all areas of our life are in balance, not when everything goes into one single bucket. Of course, we can achieve tremendous goals if we focus everything on one thing, but, inexorably, these achievements will be followed by hard periods of burnout.

So, I identified not one, but three “realms” in which we are spending energy and time: Assess, Decide and Do. Each of these realms requires specific activities, approaches and types of energy. The right combination of them is what generates “the flow”.

What is Assess, Decide, Do?

Very briefly: in Assess we evaluate, we take feedback, we brainstorm, we can even afford to procrastinate. There is no pressure, we can just play with the ideas until they reach a certain consistency. Until the WHAT is clear.

Once this is clear, we can move it – as, literally, we send the task in another view, as you will see in the app – to Decide. In this realm we do only planning and resource allocation. We’re not concerned with the WHAT anymore, this was polished already, we’re focusing on WHEN. Here we set due dates and contexts to tasks and, once we’re happy with how the calendar looks like, we’re sending whatever we feel it’s right to do, in Do.

And in Do, that’s the catch, we do nothing more but Doing. There’s no interference, no second guess, no hesitation, just flow.

In short, that’s the ADD productivity framework, something I came up with about 10 years ago, as you can see in this book: Natural Productivity. Although the book is 10 years old, the basic principles are still holding true.

Now, let’s see how ZenTasktic implements this.

How ZenTaskstic Can Help You Become More Productive?

First of all, there is this visual separation of realms, in 3 different tabs. In each tab, there’s only a handful of actions permitted, as follows:

Assess:

  • add, edit, delete single tasks, projects, ideas, context and collections
  • promote task to idea or project
  • detach task from idea or project
  • archive / unarchive tasks, projects and ideas in / from Collections
  • send tasks and projects to Decide

Decide:

  • add context to a task or to a project
  • add due date to a task
  • add start date and end date to a project
  • send tasks and projects to Do (if they are ready to be done) or to Assess (if you’re not yet happy with what they contain)

Do:

  • view tasks based on time windows (today, tomorrow, soon and overdue) or grouped by context
  • mark a task as done
  • send a task back to Decide (if need to plan more) or Assess (if you want to edit it)

And here comes a nice twist: in order to remove an item from the system, you’re marking it as “Done”. But the item doesn’t get deleted, it’s just moved to a special collection in Assess, called, you guessed, “Done”. So you will have access to all the items you’ve done before in case you want to reuse them (you will just unarchive them and reintegrate them in the Assess-Decide-Do workflow).

And with that let’s talk a bit about Zen Status.

You noticed the pie chart in Assess, and a little bit of text above it. That part is where ZenTaskstic actually evaluates you, based on your specific activity patterns. As far as I know, no other app on the market does that.

At any given moment, your Assess, Decide and Do realms are carrying a certain amount of tasks and they are subject to a certain amount of operations (sending items in and out, marking as done, deleting, archiving, etc). This ecosystem of statuses is translated by ZenTasktic secret juice into the Zen Status, a place where you can see at a glance if you’re spending too much time procrastinating, if you’re over-planning, or over-doing, heading right into the next burnout.

If you really want this, then you will have to pay a small yearly subscription of only $14.99 (the first year being only $9.99). There’s also a limitation of how many items you can mark as done every day, limitation which is eliminated (along with the ads) by buying this subscription.

There are a few more nice things hidden in the app, but I will let you discover them yourself. Just follow the link below and get it now from the App Store.

One More Thing..

Well, there are two more things actually.

The first one is that the app works on both iPhone and iPad, sharing the same data. I can’t emphasize this enough: if you’re signed up with the same account on both devices, you will be able to see the same data, your edits will be synced in the Cloud transparently, and you will share the same subscription across both devices.

Here are a few screenshots of the iPad version in action:

And the second thing is that there is a Mac version in the final testing stage. And yes, the Mac version and any of the iPhone, iPad version will actually share the same set of data (as long as you’re signed up with the same iCloud account on all devices). It closes the loop by offering a one-stop solution for all your productivity needs (boy, I’ve been waiting so long just to be able to write this).

Here’s how it looks before submitting it:

There you go.




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