Blog Post

TaskPaper: Sometimes Simple is Best

ScreenshotTrue confession time: I get plenty of things done, but based on the last six months or so of trying to use it, the Getting Things Done system doesn’t work for me. Or rather, the sort of heavyweight task management that would have me categorize everything by project and context, and then focus only on the next action, doesn’t work for me. I find I spend too much time maintaining my GTD system compared to the time it saves me. And somehow, no matter how carefully I categorize things, the action that should have been next ends up buried somewhere.

Now, this may just be because I’ve never been properly trained in GTD. But for the next while, at least, I’m going to go back to a simpler tracking system, where I keep my tasks in a relatively easy-to-read list and let me natural ability to scan the list and pick things take over from a system designed to hide things from me. After casting about a bit for software to use, I’m trying out TaskPaper. With TaskPaper, your task list is a set of projects and tasks – entered just by typing text. Type a line with a colon after it, and it’s a project name. Type a line starting with a dash beneath the first line, and it’s a task. Add a note starting with @, and it’s a tag. TaskPaper displays these files in a clean format where you can tweak color settings and not much else.

ScreenshotBut in terms of quickly entering, showing, and navigating information, it’s great. If you click a project name (or choose it from the dropdown at the top of the user interface), it’ll hide everything but that project. Click a tag, and you see everything using that tag. (If you want, you could implement GTD simply by using tags for contexts). The Spotlight-style search at the top lets you find things easily. Use the standard command-T shortcut, and you get a new tab to show a different project or different set of search results.

Because TaskPaper files are plain text, they can be used pretty much anywhere. Tasko gives you TaskPaper-style editing on the web, while ToDoPaper is a Windows-compatible version.

It would be easy to think of additional features to add to TaskPaper, but for now, I’m going to focus on tasks instead of tools for a bit. After a week of using it, I’m feeling happy and productive. You can download a free trial copy, or register it for $18.95.

6 Responses to “TaskPaper: Sometimes Simple is Best”

  1. beardeddave

    I’ve also tried a number of the common GTD apps and I agree. Taskpaper works best for me, too. I’m switching between TP and RTM, both are simple, clean and easy to use.

  2. Hi,
    I was just scrolling through the net..I went through ur blog…I really liked this app. i dint know much abt it …wud like to ….as u said that it is just a plain text files and can be used frm anywhere….I m a regular user of intrent ..I spend 16 hrs on it…have access sometimes frm other places…might be this feature wud be of help…..


  3. I tried GTD apps of all kinds for a while, and while I still rely on a myriad of apps for many aspects of my life, for task management I now rely on a piece of paper.

    Anxiety is a good alternative if you want simple desktop-based task management, but what I love about the paper alternative is that you have to think carefully about what to put down, or you’ll run out of space! Great for effective prioritization.

  4. I received TaskPaper as part of the last MacHeist bundle. And actually I was feeling a bit the same about those big GTD systems that need a lot of maintanance. I used OmniFocus for a while, but if you just need the simple basics, taskpaper will be much easier to use.