Lately I have re-dug into my (seemingly) eternal quest to be more organized, and keep myself on track for my various personal projects and goals. Years ago I came across David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and had some level of success incorporating the principle of the GTD system into my life. My “devotion” to the system (read: consistent use) waked and waned fairly chaotically. The issue was finding a good online solution that answered my needs. One of the core principles of GTD is keeping your next-actions and ticklers (GTDese for to-dos and reminders) in a place you can trust.
A couple of months back I came across Hiveminder. It seems to be doing the trick quite nicely.
First, it’s free. Hard to beat that. There is a pro account upgrade for $30 a year, but the features offered are more geared to group management endeavors. That’s something I do not currently need. If in the future I get a group blog running, or something like that, I may explore the pro account as a task/project management system. For now though, the freebie level is more than enough.
Second, along with functionality to support the GTD system, it also has some of the points I love about the Bit Literacy school of thought by Mark Hurst. Namely, Hiveminder incorporates the idea of hiding tasks from view until a later date so that you get the task out of your head until it’s time to take action on it.
Hiveminder also incorporates a very painless review process. Clicking the “task review” button takes you to a cheery page which reads:
Buckle up, because you’re about to head into the “Review” process.
We’re going to show you every task in this list. All 15 of them. We’ll start with the newest stuff – things you haven’t even looked at yet – then we’ll go through everything that’s due soon or that you haven’t looked at in a while. To make sure things get done, we’re going to give you very few options:
- Comment on the task
- Say you’re already done
- Say you want somebody else to do it (and pick [on] them).
- Say you’ll do it today
- Ask not to see it until Saturday, until Monday, or for a month.
Once you start the review, it’s a bit like a broken VCR – you can’t stop, fast-forward, or rewind. You have to work through the review, one task at a time, until you’re done. When you’re done though, the pain stops, and you’re that much closer to being an effective human bee-ing.
This process goes fairly quickly, and painlessly. Like it says, there’s no turning back. Once done you will have a much shorter list of just the things you would like to do today.
Hiveminder also handles projects and next actions brilliantly. In GTD the idea is to take a look at any outstanding to-do item, or project, and see what the next possible action you could do is to advance the item. In the case of a single to-do the next action may be the completion. In the case of a project the next action will likely lead to another next action.
For me this was one of the sticking points when I originally learned the GTD methodology. It was simple enough to determine what the next action for something might be, but I sort of felt that I had to know what all the “next” actions were going to be before diving in. Hiveminder handles that silly assumption for me. I can create a task which is a project completion, like “Publish book X.” Then I open up the edit screen for that item and at the bottom is a handy “but first…” section. I pop the next action in there (say, “Write an outline”) and the dependent item (“Publish book X”) is hidden from view until I complete the next action. When the project action (“Publish book X”) reappears I can go back in and add another dependent next action. I can also start in the middle of a project with an action. Then I can add a “but first..” item and a “and then…” item to start creating an easy to manage logical thread of steps. This particular aspect is pretty much the single reason for me take a look back at GTD.
Hiveminder also has all the bells and whistles of current hot to-do managers out there. You can email in tasks, and you can prep a variety of different email addresses with filters for incoming actions. You can set tags for project specific (or for GTD context specific) tasks. You can also set “hide until” dates, as well as a host of other functions.
Hiveminder’s primary thrust though is managing groups engaged jointly in a project. As I mentioned previously I don’t have much use for that at the moment. But, if anyone reading this has given that side of Hiveminder a try I would love to hear about it in the comment section.
To wrap up: I heartedly recommend Hiveminder as a task/project management tool.
(And, now I can mark that to do off. )