Despite all the Apple versus Microsoft, OS X versus Windows, iOS versus Android and similar debates about who does it better, productivity always comes down to actually getting things done. Task management software improves critical tracking projects, managing tasks, and maintaining typical to do lists. Here are five of the best task management apps for Mac business users.
Apple includes basic task management capabilities in its OS X Mountain Lion OS. Reminders provides simple, integrated reminder lists similar to Tasks found in Microsoft Outlook. Leveraging iCloud, Mac users can synchronize Reminders across multiple Macs and iOS devices with relative ease. Simply checking iCloud Preferences and checking the Calendars & Reminders options enables the synchronization.
Once a new reminder is created, users can opt to specify that they be reminded of the task either on a specific day and time or at a specific location. Task repetition can be set, as can Low, Medium or High priority, as can notes.
Many Mac users, of course, employ Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook. Besides Outlook's Mail, Calendar and Contacts features, the personal information program also includes Tasks. As with Apple reminders, tasks can include due (or reminder) dates, recurrence and a few basic priorities. But Tasks also supports applying categories, marking follow up flags, and applying start dates.
Outlook users can also readily convert email messages to tasks. Simply clicking an email message's flag icon creates a task from the email message. Alternatively, clicking a message's flagged icon marks the task as complete without having even to navigate to Outlook's Tasks view.
Occasionally Mac users also operate Windows machines, potentially a Chrome book, iPads, an iPhone or even Linux workstations. In such cases, turning to a Web-based task management application, such as Todoist, enables compatibility and synchronization across all such devices. The Web-based tool, for which there's also corresponding Android, iPhone and even Chrome, Firefox and Thunderbird integration, also includes an offline synchronization feature.
Unlike some other task and to-do list tracking software offering more advanced functionality, Todoist provides a simplified interface for tracking tasks, assigning deadlines, setting priorities, and assigning color codes. Todoist's attractiveness is in its simplicity and cross-platform compatibility. By keeping the application simple, Todoist's developers have kept it light, lean, and efficient.
Mac users seeking cross-platform compatibility, including Blackberry support, and enhanced categorization, collaboration, filtering, hotlisting, and alarms will find Toodledo up to the task. The customizable application supports a variety of filtering and list views that make the program a powerful task management tool.
Toodledo, despite possessing a more fanciful name that belies the application's prowess and capacity, has built quite a following. The program's forums reveal healthy interaction between users and Toodledo administrators.
The Omni Group's OmniFocus program, while Apple-centric, is a full-featured application. The software stores to-do list items within an inbox, provides a quick-access console for administering tasks. The app's context feature, meanwhile, helps sort tasks by type, such as phone calls to be returned, proposals to be drafted, etc.
Using OmniFocus, a user can synchronize task actions between multiple Macs, an iPhone, and an iPad. Synchronization can be fueled using a free sync server provided by Omni or any standard WebDAV server or even over a LAN. Because the program enables assigning tasks to actionable tasks, and sorting by projects and contexts as well as customizing data views, the application can actually change the way users manage workflow. Anytime a sub $100 software program can do that, and add efficiency, you know you've found a good investment.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.