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I am no longer obsessed with task management tools like I was after I first read Getting Things Done, but I still spend more time playing with software than I ought to. I have reviewed Producteev, Nozbe, and Teux Deux, all of which have good qualities, but didn’t stick. I tried the very popular Wunderlist, and discarded it as unsuitable without bothering to write a review. I even used a paper work plan. But I have never reviewed Remember the Milk, which has been my task manager of choice for years.
Unlike some of the other task managers, Remember the Milk has all the features you might need, and while it is dead simple to use, it is also as powerful as you might want it to be. There are RTM apps for everything, and it syncs up with most other things.
What I Like About Remember the Milk
Lists and/or tags. First off, you’ve got to be able to organize your tasks. Most task managers allow you to creates lists so you can organize your tasks GTD-style, or create a list for each active task, or whatever. I like RTM because it has both. So do most of the other task managers I mentioned above (Teux Deux being the exception).
I use lists for my GTD categories (do now, waiting, later), and tags for contexts and client identifiers, but you can do it however you like. Or not at all, if you just want one big list.
It also allows you to set priority levels, which I generally use to decide what I ought to be working on any particular day (my “most important tasks,” or MITs”).
Of course, lists and tags and priorities are useless if you can’t organize them. RTM makes it easy to create a smart tab for, say, all your tasks with a priority of 1 or 2 that are due in the next 10 days or have no due date at all. Or all your priority tasks regardless of the list they are on. Or you can just go with the default Today/Tomorrow/Overdue tabs.
Due dates, optional. Some things have due dates, and some don’t. I like to put just about everything into my lists, whether it’s cleaning the basement (sometime in the next decade), clearing my inbox (tomorrow), or writing a novel (maybe never).
(We’re talking about task managers, not practice management software, but here’s why there is a difference. Clio doesn’t get optional due dates — or recurring tasks, for that matter. It’s like the anti-GTD task management system, where every task must have a due date.)
Recurring tasks. I have 67 recurring tasks for things like “Check in with [client]” monthly and “Order 1099 forms” every January. Some are a matter of convenience. I just like being reminded to water my office plants every Monday or get something nice for my wife every month. Others, like “Trust accounting” every month, keep me in compliance with the ethics rules.
Recurring tasks seems to be the last feature implemented in any task manager, but it is a dealbreaker for me. It is well-implemented in RTM; you can do daily, weekly, and monthly, of course, or you can do thinks like the second Monday of each month. The only thing it can’t do is the last day of each month; you have to create 12 separate tasks. This is an annoying, but fairly minor gripe.
Great UI. The RTM user interface isn’t as pretty as Wunderlist, but it’s better than most, and highly functional. I especially like the extensive keyboard shortcuts, which I prefer to mousing around. And the Smart Add feature lets you add tasks using natural language, like “Take out th trash every Friday.”
This carries over to the excellent apps, which are a pleasure to use, and all very well-tailored to their respected platforms. For example, the Android app includes great homescreen widgets, while the iPad app was one of the first to use the great “sliding panels” interface.
What I Don’t Love About Remember the Milk
Not much, honestly.
The only real downside is that RTM is basically a finished product. You must take it as it is, because new features are few and far between. Development is focused on keeping refining the software and apps and keeping everything up to date. Since I happen to love RTM as-is, this is not much of a problem.
Remember the Milk
Reviewed by Sam Glover on .
Summary: Remember the Milk has all the features you might need, and while it is dead simple to use, it is also as powerful as you might want it to be.
Score: 5 (out of 5)