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Planleaf is a small-and-simple email-based task management solution

I got an email today from Omar Qureshi, the CEO of Planleaf, a Waterloo Ontario-based start-up with a small-and-simple task management solution built entirely on email. There is no sign-up, no download, nothing to install.

Creating an email like the following, sending it to one or more contacts, and cc’ing planleaf ([email protected]). Tasks are indicated by putting a dash at the start of a line, assignment is made by ‘@first name’, and due dates by putting a date in parentheses, like ‘(Jul 3)’.

Screenshot 2014-07-03 16.47.22

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.52.14 AM

In the example above, one of the tasks has a deadline of ‘Jul 3’ which was created by adding ‘(jul 3)’ to the text of that task.

The following is what you see when you click on the box to complete a task: the result is a reply formatted to indicate the task is completed and which is sent back to Planleaf for processing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.52.30 AM

You can also add or edit the tasks list, which is — again — handled as a reply with a special email account that indicates the identity of the tasklist.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.53.16 AM

There is a daily digest sent for all of your active Planleaf tasklists, which you can also request on demand:

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 4.32.43 PM

The Bottom Line

I haven’t used Planleaf in a production setting, so I can’t evaluate exactly how it would play out. But from the simple examples I created, and the interaction I had with Omar, suggests that the tool is amazingly small and simple, with functionally zero ramp up effort.

The fact that any participant can edit any task in a shared tasklist, up to and including deleting everything may seem a bit dangerous, but on one hand, it’s quite egalitarian, and on the other, since every edit creates an email, in case of a disaster any of the participants could go back and find the previous version, and repost it.

I guess I’d like to be able to keep a history of the text versions somewhere more user friendly than Gmail, but that’s a more general complaint.

I asked Omar about his roadmap, and he shared this:

Here are a few of the major items/requests:
– We’ll be adding support for notifications on tasks; you can get email notifications for time sensitive tasks
– We’ll be adding a web view for the product, quick access to your lists on the go (this however doesn’t detract from our insane email focus!)
– Building out the enterprise/business version of Planleaf (unlimited usage, custom branding and potential white label hosting; so like [email protected])
I wondered if that would be enough functionality, and he replied,
– Yes we totally thinkso, especially for the type of tasks and workflows we’re focusing on. This is just what people want/need, a dead simple way to push tasks to absolutely anyone.
– We feel all other tools totally missed this segment of tasks. Short lived and adhoc tasks are just not worth the burden of going into traditional tools . We have people using Planleaf to quickly plan social events as well. Which is awesome.
He added that email has 2.5B users: the most ubiquitous platform on earth.
With a web interface for seeing the status of things — for power users, at least — I think it might be a good solution to the ad hoc task sharing issue that makes other tools seem so heavyweight, and as a result, people work together through unstructured email. This is way better than that, but remaining minimal.