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TaskPaper: Simple, text-based task management


Jesse Grosjean from Hog Bay Software has just begun sharing the first releases of a new task-tracking app which adopts a refreshingly stripped-down approach to managing action on a Mac. TaskPaper starts with the simplicity of text files then adds just a bit of Mac magic to make it both smarter and prettier, but without giving up portability and ease of use. Jesse says:

TaskPaper makes it easy to create a list of your projects and their tasks so that you always know what needs to be done. It's simple to reorganize the list, create new items, mark items as done, and delete items that your finished with. You can also assign contexts (such as "home", "office", or "car") to your tasks so that you can later generate lists of all tasks assigned to a specific context.

As Gina Trapani has shown, there's clearly a place out there for a smart, text-y task app. What a lot of folks need is not the taxonomical rabbit hutch of The Big GTD App™ -- they just need an easy way to structure tasks in a non-fiddly way. TaskPaper's easy tagging and fiddle-resistant stoicism could make it a go-to app for the overwhelmed knowledge worker (who's not quite ready to make the leap into the shell).

Screenshot of TaskPaer in action

This is very young software, and Jesse assures us that it still needs some TLC before being ready for battlefield usage (context views are being balky, for one). But, I'll be keeping an eye on this, and -- if you struggle with rethinking your workflow around over-engineered productivity apps -- I encourage you to grab a copy.

If you do this stuff long and diligently enough, you eventually learn that when it comes to "task lists" you need to focus a lot more on the "task" than the "list" (cf.). I'm always encouraged to see an app that honors that arrangement from the get-go.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




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