A while back I shared my three types of tasks: Appointments, Reminders and To-Dos. I think I may have gotten this wrong and something tells me that the new iPhone application Clear may have as well (although that doesn’t seem to be hurting sales one bit).
I Was Wrong1
“To Do” is too broad of a term. Essentially anything you undertake is a to-do. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I was mistaken when I called my previous post “Three Types of Tasks.” The terms task and to-do should likely have been reversed (more on this in a second).
Not only do I think I got the name wrong, I missed a big one: lists. This is really where apps like Clear and Listary shine. So while it’s accurate to call Clear a to-do app, I can’t help but think it would have been better branded as a list manager.
It’s obviously doing well in the app store, but I can’t help but think that for the moment this is more a matter of the look, the feel and the price than it is a clarity of use. We’re already seeing some confusion as to where it fits from those reviewing it and I have to imagine that this spreads to the end user. So many reviews (even the raves) are having to compare and give context to apps like OmniFocus, but these apps are complementary, not competitive.
With this in mind, let me do a little reframing…
The Four Types of To-dos
Reminders are the easiest to handle and often the easiest to forget. Almost daily, there will be something small and inconsequential that I need to remember to bring in the morning or take home at night. These to-dos are rarely essential and my brain has an uncanny knack for forgetting them altogether.
Appointments are anything that needs to happen at a specific time. These live on your calendar and are the least flexible type of to-do.
The most common type of to-do, this is anything that you hope to accomplish that isn’t minor, like a reminder, or time specific, like an appointment. This includes anything from needing to write an email to all of the elements required to accomplish a major project.
Lists are a subsect of tasks. Where they differ is that they are usually untethered to projects and have no start or due date. This could include lists of books, movies and shows you’d like to get around to at some point. Conversely, lists can also be for short-term things like groceries. More often than not, they represent things you need or want to get more than they will be things you need to do.
And those of you who know me, know just how bad I am at saying that… ↩