Getting Fiddly with Things, Omnifocus and Nozbe

Recorded on April 18th, 2013

I’ve been getting fiddly with my task management apps again over the past few days, mostly because I’ve been listening to Merlin Mann’s podcast and Omnifocus keeps coming up in his rambles. Well honestly, it’s also because I love Cultured Code’s Things. It’s been hugely influential in getting my life more organized. But there are a few gripes that I have with it. Namely: I want to be able to email tasks to it and I want it to play nicely with other services like Dropbox and Evernote. 

So I started out today thinking that I’d give Omnifocus the ol’ 14 day free try. It’s very feature rich, and a lot of the big famous productivity nerds use it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that using an app for the long term that you outright buy a license for is a good way to find yourself at the mercy of an unresponsive developer. 

There’s simply no need for a sales based dev to be listen to their users. Once they’ve sold you a license, you transition from paying customer to liability.  For them, it’s about keeping people just happy enough so that new customers continue to buy in. I think this is why Things has been so slow to iterate and improve. Cultured Code is a business that’s based on selling new licenses of Things, not on keeping longtime users happy. Maybe it’s not intentional, but without that motivation, it seems to be happening. 

Which brings me back to Nozbe. I’ve tried Nozbe out twice and found plenty to like and dislike. It does a pretty good job of syncing with other services and I LOVE that you can email tasks into it. That is one huge broken problem with my workflow right now. Also, I like that it makes more explicit use of GTD contexts than Things. Yes, you can use tags for this in Things, but it’s easy to get lazy about contexts when they’re not built into the system. 

However, I’ve quit using it very quickly both times for a couple reasons: 

  • The desktop app doesn’t have keyboard shortcuts yet (seriously). * The interface feels clunky…lots of pointing and clicking and fields to fill in. * They only recently released their own iOS apps.  * There’s no Someday/Maybe list, which seems weird compared to other GTD based software.* And while it’s name sounds vaguely nose related, there’s no question that their colors were directly inspired by a nasty bout with the flu … lots of browns and greens.  

But all of that will eventually have to be fixed because they are a subscription based service. They make money so long as their users continue to be happy. Because of that, it can seem pricy. But I think the value of having a company that is dedicated to keeping their users is probably worth it in the end.  

I’m not really sure what my point is with all of this, but I think I may have talked myself into giving Nozbe a third shot. 

Instead of actually getting things done.