MY NEW TASK MANAGER

As many people who have worked with me can attest to, I have always been a bit anal about keeping track of my work. My big problem is that I have never really found a task manager that does what I want it too and always have been searching for that “perfect” tool to keep track of what I need to get done. I have used paper planners, steno pads, DayTimer or Franklin notebook planners, electronic planners, lots and lots of “TODO” software, not to mention the web applications that I have tried.

Unfortunately, none of these task management systems did completely what I was looking for in a task manager.

About three weeks ago, I began searching for a different task management system – again. I had been trying to use Apple’s Todo List or Google’s Tasks and neither one did what I wanted or how I wanted to track my tasks. Initially, I thought that OmniFocus was what I was looking for, but as I used it more, I found that it was not what I wanted from a task manager.

I even tried going back to the old reliable stenopad method, but re-writing information everyday isn’t the way that I do things in today’s world. I needed to find something that worked for me, instead of adapting to something that didn’t work the same way I do.

You really don’t realize how many different types of task managers or TODO software/web applications there are out there, until you try to find one that will work for you. To weed through all the different programs, that looked interesting enough for a second look took me almost two evenings and then another 3-4 sessions to try out and use the ones that interested me the most. There were five web applications that appeared interesting, but one really worked for me when I first started using it. I have been using it for the past two weeks and found that it works very well for me.

What made me choose Hiveminder – simple, it works the way I think – from several directions all at the same time and then I am able to go back and add clarifying information, when I remember something else that relates to a task. I am not always a linear thinker and Hiveminder has several different ways to track, enter tasks, sort, connect to other applications which corresponds to how I do things. Is it perfect – no, but during the two weeks I have used it, but I have found it to be better than anything else I have used so far.

Some things that I really like about Hiveminder are:

  • The But first…. and then…. feature – this is a feature that I have always looked for in a task manager, whenever I create a task there are usually things that have to be done before and after. A good example is setting up a PET meeting, there are many steps to do before and then after there is even more to do, this will help me in not forgetting something important or that will make me look bad later.

  • The ability to add Todos while in gCal and iCal – adding or looking at tasks in my iCal or Google Calendar is a very nice feature that allows me view what is due for that day quickly or quickly add new tasks as I remember them while looking at the calendar.

  • Creating a task by sending an email – I often receive emails that I have to take action on by email and I can easily forward them to Hiveminder to add to my todo list. Hiveminder also allows you to add tasks by several other means as well, with so many different ways, you are sure to find one that meets your needs.

  • Hiveminder maintains a history of all the changes you have made to a task.

  • Task review is a powerful tool that allows you to go through all your tasks to double-check what you have ahead of you and keep things under control

  • Tagging with a tag cloud is visible on all the screens and allows you to view all the tasks using that tag in one place.

and so many other features that I will use regularly.

Some things that I did not see and was wondering about are if:

  • How to unhide tasks that you have hidden (I haven’t figured this one out yet) I am sure it is simple, but I just have to find out what the command is.
  • You can export your data to your desktop or if you want to change accounts.
  • You can change your email or merge multiple accounts into one.

Review questions that I try to answer at the end of each review.

  • Do my students have access the product? Yes, it is web based and needs an email address to register. But as 7th graders most are too young to use legally.
  • Is Hiveminder intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? Hiveminder is a very intuitive program with several different ways to enter or view your tasks.
  • How much does it cost? Free for the basic plan, with an annual premium option.
  • What are the other options that do the same function? Apple’s integrated todo list, Google’s tasks, Remember the Milk, Outlook’s todo, and so many others that there is the “right” task management system for just about everyone – you just have to find it.
  • Whether it synchs well with my iPhone? Hiveminder syncs to the iPhone by way of the iMinder iPhone application (iTunes Link) and while I haven’t used it all that much it seems to synch my task list well and it appears to be easy to use.
  • Does it actually get used in my classroom. Maybe a few students would use a product like Hiveminder, but I believe that this application is geared towards a more advanced user or some teachers. I foresee me using this tool a great deal to keep on top of my Special Education work, class work or other tasks.
  • On occasion what students think about a particular tool: Not applicable.
  • Will I use this web application? I have been using Hiveminder for over a week now and have really found that it works pretty much the way I do. It seems to be what I have been looking for in a task manager.
  • How does it apply to Special Education? There are always so many deadlines or multiple tasks and paperwork associated with the Special Education side of being a Special Education teacher that you can not remember everything in your head. You have to have some kind of a task management system in place or else you will forget to do something or overlook a requirement that needed to be accomplished as part of being a Special Educator. When that happens you have either not represented your school district appropriately or else you might have inadvertently not provided all the rights that a student/parent are entitled to, either way you will be held responsible for your action or inaction. Therefore, using a task management program/system is necessary. From what I have seen of Hiveminder it gives a Special Educator more than other similar programs that I have used, it is intuitive to use and free (a very important consideration).

The website states that the site will always have a free option, in addition to its premium version. With all of the features that the free version has, I don’t think that I really need to upgrade, but at the same time if I am still using this application a year from now, out of loyalty, I will upgrade to help support what they are doing.

In my opinion Hiveminder is well worth a second look and appears to be flexible enough to be used the way you want to manage your tasks. The bottom line is that I am going to use Hiveminder as my task manager for a while and will give an update in about three months, to see how it is still working for me.

Right now however, Hiveminder does seem like a keeper though.

UPDATE: March 6, 2011 – While Hiveminder is a really good Task Manager, I am now using Evernote as my task management system see my Evernote as a Task Manager post.