Managing time is at the center of our work, so that’s why there are so many offering to help us do it.
A number of time- and task-oriented companies that I track closely have released new — or initial — versions of their offerings, specifically Asana, 6Wunderkinder (Wunderlist), and Timeful. Here’s some quick observations, prior to using them at any great length.
Asana, the team task management company (see this compilation of posts here on Asana), has announced a completely redesigned iOS client. The shift in their ethnographic stance is significant, and represents a turning point for all app designers, as stated in an Asana blog post:
Our previous iOS app was intended as a companion to our web-based product, something that you and your team used in between accessing Asana on your computer. But as teams increasingly rely on mobile devices in addition to (or instead of) their computers, our old approach was not enough. So, we started from scratch, focusing on how teams work from mobile devices. The result is a brand-new experience for iPhone and iPad that helps you run your day, your team, and your company right from your mobile device.
That’s the driver for Asana’s rethink of their iOS user experience: we aren’t just using mobile devices when we’re away from our desks, but always.
The bottom bar navigation makes it easy to access projects. Here I selected ‘Workify’.
The redesign is driven by a new notion of visual design at Asana, and looks cleaner and brighter. We’ll have to see what that means as I experience it for a week or so.
Although not related to the new Asana release, I have to mention that I discovered that Sunrise, the well-designed calendar app, supports integration with Asana (and other apps, like Evernote). Now when looking at my calendar for the day, I see dated Asana tasks as well. The Asana tasks can be dragged from one day to another, and various bits of calendar metadata can be altered in Sunrise. However, you can’t check off tasks as complete: you have to click on the ‘Open in Asana’ button to do that, although you can delete Asana tasks in Sunrise. Odd.
This makes Sunrise my favorite calendar app by an even wider margin.
6Wunderkinder has released version 3 of their flagship team task management tool Wunderlist. It doesn’t seem fantastically different, but that may be due to the sort of development going into this new release, which seems to have been oriented toward infrastructure.
They discuss a recast sync capability, which presumably counters some syncing issues users must have been experiencing:
Wunderlist 3 also introduces a completely reengineered Real-time Sync that is now more powerful than ever before. The new Real-time Sync enables instant communication and collaboration with family, friends and colleagues around any shared list. Every list item, comment and update instantly appears right before your eyes across all devices, keeping your life in sync.
The only other major user-facing enhancement is the capability to create lists — not positioned as to-do lists, but just plain lists — and to publish them to the web. Not really a work-oriented feature, really.
Gigaom’s David Meyer spoke to 6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber, who makes the case that with it’s new public lists capability Wunderlist is becoming a platform for publishing and sharing list-based content:
“We want to be the home of all the world’s lists,” he said.
A consumer-oriented shift of focus, and one that I just don’t get. Maybe Wunderlist wants to move beyond its existing competition in the task management market — players like Trello, Wrike, and Asana — and start to battle with Evernote and other more general information management and publishing tools.
Timeful is a new product that sounds like I would want to use it: ‘intelligent time assistance’ instead of calendering or task management. And — like so many other new products — it is available on mobile — iOS at this point — first.
Dan Ariely is the Chief Behavior Officer, and the well-known behavioral economist and author of Predictably Irrational. His thinking about how we use our time is one of the primary considerations behind Timeful. The three founders — Ariely, machine-learning PhD candidate at Stanford, Jacob Bank, and and Stanford computer science professor, Yoav Shoham — wrote this at the founding of the company:
Armed with the conviction that we can manage our lives better, we began an academic research project to better understand the problem. We quickly found that the issue was even larger and more nuanced than we anticipated.
With every new piece of data it became clearer to us how bad we all are at creating productive schedules and executing on them, and how ineffective, and sometimes damaging, the current tools are for this task. A scary percentage of the people we studied (guess how many) sank long and mindless hours into email triage, meetings, and social networks. And no one reported that their life would be complete if they could only attend one more meeting.
When people do get down to doing tasks, we’re suckers for the short-term gratification of swatting flies, checking off easy to-do’s, and are too drained to slay the dragons, like that report that’s been languishing forever.
As we observed all of these mistakes, it became clear that the casualties in the battle for time are often the things that really matter to us, whether it’s performing well on a big project at work, or spending quality time with family, friends, or ourselves.
So, it seems that Timeful is going to be a Jiminy Cricket: the conscience that guides us to do the best things, and to avoid procrastination or time mismanagement.
This one I will have to use for awhile, but I already start with reservations because I have invested a lot in my own techniques of time and task management. (However, I have been skipping the bicycle rides, recently…)