This morning I thought I had way too much tasks, way too much paper on my desk, a messy inbox, and a cluttered schedule. Then I made a terrible mistake: try to solve this with more tools. You don’t always solve “more X” with “more Y”.
I remembererd a discussion about “remember the milk”, a free online todo list with all kinds of taggin, grouping, mailing and Googletalk features. I registered, and happily set of pouring my life into the thing… or so I thought.
As it turns out, it is extremely hard to grasp the user interface of this thing. After registering I was apperently in the “Settings” mode without knowing it. This prevented me from adding tags to tasks for some strange reason. After I found out that I was in the wrong mode, I went to “Overview”. This gives you the tasks for today, tomorow and next week. If you’ve added tasks without a date, these will not show up here, which is really annoying. There’s also no way to add tasks in this view.
To add tasks in the other screens or groups, you need to remember keyboard shortcuts to get to the functionality you want. There are some links which can do the trick, but for some reason they are not in a logical place. Combined with a very wierd “mouse over” mode where you can only see details of a task when moving your mousepointer over the task, this userinterface really isn’t user friendly in my opinion.
The most irritating, and perhaps even killer “feature”: Marking tasks as “finished” is not done by clicking on a “finished” button on the task, but by tick-marking them, and then pusing a button on the top of the screen. I actually had too look for the button for 5 minutes before I worked out how I could finish the task. On my paper todo list, a tickmark marks it as “done”. In Remember The Milk, a tickmark has a whole different meaning and that really bothers me.
All in all I spent 30 minutes with Remember The Milk, I managed to create 1 extra folder, add 5 tasks in the user interface, and 1 task by mail, and tag 3 of them. Then I decided that a todo list should not have a learning curve at all. In addition, I realized that adding this tool would add to my things to do, namely transferring and constantly synchronizing my work into this tool.
I returned to my trusty paper throw-away todo list, and my paper filofax, and realized again that these work best. I also found out that there are more people realizing this. Take a look at this interisting article at zenhabits.net. Sometimes, GTD just adds to yor work, in stead of getting the original work done.
Focus. Don’t let the shiny tools distract you from your actual work.