Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toodledo and Todo Too Listmaking Nirvana

When I used my Lifedrive profusely, I often wondered what would happen if I forgot the gadget at home. All of my Todo lists were on the device. Naturally, I could have used the Exchange server at work as a backup, but there were times when I felt that my needs with the Exchange Server conflicted. For example, did I really need my workplace to know that I was visiting my mother or that I had to pick up milk at 5pm? Too personal. On the other hand, I needed to know about important meetings and the Lifedrive and all of the Palm devices afforded me a way of knowing these things well in advance - be it 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week. But I still yearned for something more. The day that I left my machine at home showed me that.

It was a tuesday as I recall, back in 2002, I had a calendar of events as long as my arm. I had to see patients, but in between that there were other things that had deadlines fast approaching - and all of those non-direct patient care deadlines were on the device. Some things required phone calls being made before 5pm, some before 2 pm. I couldn't keep up with them all. My Palm Tungsten kept everything in place. I missed nothing that day, but only after getting back in my car at lunch time and driving home to get it. My partners thought I was crazy, but I knew better. The day ended at 11pm, but not without me putting a check mark next to every single item on the Todo list for that day.

So I began thinking.... Backing up the Todo list and the calendar to the PC was not the best thing in the world. If you left the gadget at home, you had two devices at home - The gadget and the PC. Enter Google!

Google was not the first to start putting things in the cloud, they are just the best at it. They have seen the future and it really is in cloud computing. Other companies have jumped on the bandwagon and some of these smaller companies are doing an incredible job. Again, I do want to give a shout out to Mobisystems for creating one of the first cloud devices, found on the palm with their MobiOffice suite for Palm. Hands down the best ever created for the Palm, eclipsing Dataviz. But I digress.

For the last two years I have been looking for a calendar solution that would integrate online and with the iPhone. I have yet to find a solution that works well. If I use my workplace Exchange calendar, it wipes out my regular calendar and events. If I use Google's calendar, I can't get my work calendar in at the same time due to the limitation of only 1 exchange server at a time on the device.

So, I began looking at the second problem that I was having, linking Todo lists which I use quite frequently. After reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," and "Getting Things Done," and eventually listening to the hyper linguistical Merlyn Mann, I have been keeping TODO lists since 2000 and perfecting them after reading and listening to the other two that I mentioned. The 7 Habits book was a lifestyle changer for me. I categorized everything that I had to do, including family time and forced breaks. I have since fallen away from some of the very draconian things that I used to do, but with work, I find that these lists are invaluable. If something is due next friday, I label it a "3." If it suddenly becomes more important, I drag it up to a "1." I am able to complete things, not always in a timely fashion, but complete them none the less, using this system of importance. It turns out that others have been using systems like this for years. In "The Toyota Way," one of the first electronic books that I ever downloaded, I was stunned to see how these systems were used over and over again in the production plants. Microsoft, in a book written by one of its serious gurus - Randall Stross, this system was not only looked at, but strictly adhered to and probably accounted for much of the incredible profits this company produced during the heady 90's. "The Microsoft Way by Randall Stross" is a book about nothing but lists. I couldn't believe it when I read it in 1999, soon after reading "The 7 Habits..."

Fast forward to the present day, after years of searching for the near perfect solution, I finally believe that I have found my list taking Nirvana. The website is called TOODLEDO.COM. There is a competitor called REMEMBERTHEMILK.COM that is similar. But what makes Toodledo so wonderful for me is its integration with a TODO list suite called TODO (What else right :)?). TODO is available on the iPhone and is a list makers dream. It is customizable and can synch with either your Mac Desktop wirelessly (which is a dramatic plus - can you hear me Dataviz????). But it can also synch with TOODLEDO.COM for free. What's nice about this is the fact that even without a desktop app for the TODO iPhone program (It synchs with the iCal application, but not in an elegant way), synching with TOODLEDO.COM affords the download of a desktop widget, which is basically your TODO list synched with your iPhone. Make a change to your iPhone and hit synch and the change is on the desktop in the widget, in the cloud and available from any machine, be it windows, linux, solaris, Mac OS X, Symbian, Pen & Paper :). That IS TODO Nirvana.

Now, I am looking for the same thing for a calendar program. I would like a calendar program on my iPhone or any phone for that matter that would just synch anywhere. Google doesn't quite cut it due to some issues on the iPhone, especially the lack of multiple exchange servers or at the very least allowing 2 exchange servers on the phone. In addition, I would like for the calendar to be able to show the calendars of the rest of my family. Even my young kids have gotten into the calendars now themselves. I would like to see those calendars and not have to put their events in my own calendar, but have it just show up. Still not there yet.

In regards to notes, I have found a note Nirvana solution too. But more on that later.
For now, I highly recommend the following for the chronic List Takers out there:

1. TOODLEDO.COM - An online Todo list that synchs with iPhone's TODO.

2. iPhone App TODO by Appigo - A little expensive at $9.00, but very customizable and the best TODO app I have ever seen on the market. I've used at least 5 of them on the iPhone.

Honorable Mention:

1. REMEMBERTHEMILK.COM - These guys actually started the craze, but App
integration has been spotty. Additionally, the iPhone app is a
little too sparse, when compared to TOODLEDO.

2. Mobisystems Database for Palm - When I used it, it was the best Office App ever,
but it is a little dated now with the iPhone. Additionally,
there is no TODO list available. Still a great suite if you're
still using the old Palm OS. By the way, it won't crash your
Lifedrive. (This is really an honorable mention for a program
that brought me great joy).


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