ForumsQuestionsproject vs. task management struggles

project vs. task management struggles
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Posted: Oct 29, 2009
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I am really struggling. I have been blown away with Toodledo's functionality in the short time I have been using it. Coupled with TaskJot on the Blackberry, it is by far the best task management system I have used in a long time. I love having a web app that I can access from anywhere - but more important, a usable, well-designed web app that is enjoyable to use.

My struggle is the need to manage more complex projects. My boss asked me about some projects I am managing and wants an overview presentation of progress, milestones, specific tasks, etc. What I want to do is download and fire up the latest version of Bonsai, the awesome outliner app I used from my Palm days. The desktop version is very nice for project management - not the level of MS Project, but enough functionality to properly manage multiple complex projects. You get multiple hierarchies, tags, categories, etc. But also amazaing filters and views, including Next Action definition and parent-child due date dependencies.

I miss using Bonsai. I know that some of the attraction is going back to a program that I know and love, am familiar with and already know the idiosyncracies. I am a believer in using the right tool for the job, and am resistant to the "all-in-one" approach. For years, I stuck to Thunderbird for e-mail and Palm Desktop for Calendar, finally capitulating to the Outlook world and Blackberry. I used to hate Outlook passionately, but have evolved to mild displeasure and even being impressed occasionally. Another discussion, another time.

Projects/outliner/Bonsai... I am trying to simplify. I'm not sure I want another application, another tool to use. I *definitely* do not want to use Bonsai as my task management app. No web app and no mobile sync - missing one would be tough to overcome, missing both is a deal-breaker. But it is so nice for managing complex projects.

So what am I yammering on about? I don't know really. Maybe I just need to see the text on the screen to work this out. Feel free to mock me. ;)

I want to use Toodledo to manage all my actionable items - everything, projects included. I know that it is limited in project management capabilities. And the solutions posted here - while good - are still really massaging a task management app into a project management app. I am asking myself if my projects need to be so complex, if I can use a simpler structure. Then I start wondering if Toodledo is the right tool for project management.

I like my system of using Evernote as my main capture, research and reference tool. I rely on it. It is the right tool for me for that purpose. It is a terrible - OK, barely adequate - task management app. I wouldn't dare try to rely on Evernote to manage my task in an orderly way. Just as I wouldn't dare try to rely on Toodledo to manage my web snippets, research and reference material the way Evernote does.

Toodledo is a task management app. A great one. But if I'm completely honest, and really look at the value of Toodledo, I have to wonder if trying to make it a project management app is the way to go. Much of what makes Toodledo so great is its simplicity. I see all these requests for projects and multiple folder hierarchies and task dependencies and I wonder if that is the wrong direction for Toodledo. Don't get me wrong, I would probably enjoy seeing some of those features implemented. But I wonder if that's the right thing for Toodledo.

I'm going to try to set up projects within Toodledo and set up projects in Bonsai and figure out what works best for me. I am going to really look at how I'm structuring my data. I will use Bonsai if it is the best tool, though it will mean manually transferring actions to Toodledo. Manually transferring items from one app to another seems like a major inconvenience. But perhaps there is some benefit. To some extent, I do this now with Evernote, taking items from meeting notes, for example and transferring them to Toodledo as action items.

I know I can approach project management in different ways. I am trying to keep my mind open and not only look at the tools (and their inherent limitations), but also how I define items and organize them in my head.

How many of you have successfully come from using an outliner and managed with Toodledo? How many of you are using an outliner (or other project manager) alongside Toodledo? Do you review projects and pull action items into TD?

[edit] A couple updates for clarity:

1. I am a follower of GTD. I was using the term "project" above to mean a large project, and not a task that has multiple steps, in the GTD sense.

2. I tried using folders for projects, but don't like that methodology because it limits what I can "attach" to that project. I use parent tasks as projects so I can define a due date, attach notes, add tags, etc. I use folders as major subject areas (Work, Personal, etc.)

This message was edited Oct 29, 2009.

Posted: Oct 30, 2009
Score: 0 Reference

I am a GTDer also, so I understand what your point.

I try to use the right tool for the job in anything I do. Toodledo is great for task managment and can be used as a GTD System, but when it comes to large Projects, I would not use Toodledo.

I have MS Project and would use this for larger projects. Toodledo does not truly support Projects at all and the Parent Task/Sub-task is more of a hack than anything else.

I would not even consider trying to manage a Large Project in Toodledo.

Here is what Jake says about this and I agree 100%
Look for yellow highlight

This message was edited Oct 30, 2009.

Posted: Oct 30, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
Thanks Proximo. I appreciate your reasonable response. I agree and think Toodledo is a great GTD system, but not designed to manage projects. I pulled two major projects into Toodledo last night and don't think it's going to work.

There *is* a part of me that very strongly would like to distill all of my projects down to a parent task with a list of sub-tasks. But as you know, complex projects require more than that.

So what do you do? What is your process with complex projects? Do you manage and review those projects in MS Project and then pull specific action items into Toodledo? How often do you do this? Is it all manual? Any tips/suggestions you can offer?

Posted: Nov 02, 2009
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I manage large projects in MS Project. I don't have to do this very often in my work environment.

What you can do is manage the large project in Microsoft Project or something similar and just make a Task on Toodledo to remind you about the large project.

I would not do much more than that in Toodledo because it won't be productive to have dual entries on anything.

Just my opinion.
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