Blog Post

Thymer Tackles Your Task Tracking Troubles

Thymer LogoI’ve been using the same task manager quite happily for years now; when I hear people rave about the next new thing I rarely see anything compelling enough to make me consider switching. However, a few days ago I stumbled across Thymer and was intrigued enough to put it through a serious test to see whether it could replace my beloved Toodledo.

The instant appeal for me with Thymer is the straightforward data entry process. Thymer uses a natural language parser, so I can type simple statements and it knows what I want and where I want it. There’s no tabbing through multiple selection boxes needed; a single carefully-constructed statement can tell the system everything it needs to know about my task.

The key to productivity in Thymer is learning the syntax needed to enter your tasks. For example:

Write Thymer Review @WWD @today @review @1.5 @important @waiting

will assign myself a task, due today, called “Write Thymer Review.” It will add it to my WWD project and tag it as a review, with an estimated time of  1.5 hours. The other items make use of built-in flags to show that the task is important and that I’m waiting for someone or something to complete it.

While keyboard entry is prominent, the interface makes nice use of drag-and-drop functionality: Move and reorder your tasks as needed. One of the slickest features allows you to move the input box down to the specific area of the page where you want your tasks to appear.

Thymer Task Entry Box

There is a bit of a learning curve to getting used to the syntax, and to set up the searches and views you will use on a regular basis. It’s a very freeform system, which makes it flexible enough for a lot of different task management processes, but some may be put off by the lack of structure, at least when getting started.

As a one-person shop, I didn’t have a chance to test the team features, but planning functionality is built-in and you can easily assign tasks to others. Each task can also handle discussions and comments.

While expected features like emailing tasks into Thymer, daily reminder emails and even Twitter integration are done well, I’d really like to see some better auto-complete options for predicting existing tags and projects.

There is a lot more to Thymer that I haven’t even begun to implement yet — specifically, the time tracking. Each task can be given an estimated time for planning purposes and individual timers can be set to track work completed. Additionally, multiple time entries can be added to a task and totaled upon completion for billing purposes.

Mobile access is proving to be an issue for me, though, — perhaps even a dealbreaker. While an iPhone app (s aapl) is available the site doesn’t seem to function on any of the mobile browsers I tested it on. Ubiquity of the data entry and access is key for me, so I’m struggling to keep up when away from my computer.

Pricing starts at free for a basic no-frills but functional account, while paid accounts start at $5/month for a solo plan. A 30-day trial is available.

I’m undecided if it’s worth the time and effort to move over from Toodledo — but Thymer is something I’m watching closely.

How do you track your tasks? Is Thymer right for you?

8 Responses to “Thymer Tackles Your Task Tracking Troubles”

  1. I was an early Thymer (beta?) user and loved the simple single line interface. Their group functions (tested with 2 other colleagues) also was real nice. The ability to search within your tasks/group and easy/drag & drop we’ve seen with someone like RTM all nice. Unlike RTM, I found Thymer much simpler and cleaner (not UI design but info non-clutter (if that makes sense) I can also see how it could be a real cool bug tracking tool or for that matter any sort of item tracking (by extending their syntax or allowing 3rd parties to do it). only downside I see is all the investment we have made (energy, time more than money) in other tools which besides to-dos also track our contact lists and emails. So for now I have settled for admiring from not-so-far, but not switched yet. Certainly worth watching.

  2. I’ve tried to love Toodledo, but I just can’t stand looking at the interface. I need a to-do list that it at least pretty enough for me to stand putting tasks on it.

    Personally, I’ve finally devised a to-do system that’s a cross between Highrise and Basecamp that’s been working out well for me.

    Any projects, my daily routines, etc go into Basecamp, as to-do lists. I can upload any relevant information and make notes on any particular task in the comments section.

    Any VA work or to-do’s that involve some form of contact go into Highrise.

    I like that it let’s me keep my VA client work and side projects and writing separate without having to spread things across too many apps. 37 Signals products are heavily featured (I could never part with Drag-and-Drop!), have great integration with other products, and are actually pretty to use.

    • I never really had an issue with the Toodledo interface although I’ve been using it for years way back even in the classic interface days.

      Getting a good mix of products to handle your routine is critical – and a process that a lot of us never complete – am glad you found something that is really working for you. For me, splitting to-do items between multiple systems would be a recipe for disaster.

      thanks for the comments!

  3. Foo Bar

    “The key to productivity in Thymer is learning the syntax needed to enter your tasks.”

    Syntax. For tasks. Means I’m not interested.

    And that’s beside the “Where am I?” “In the Village!” typeface. :-)

    • The syntax isn’t difficult, and in reality doesn’t take much more effort than learning where menu options live or what functions buttons perform.

      You can still be productive using Thymer without learning the task entry syntax – but a little bit of time with it to maximize your efficiency is well worth the investment.