Tasks



Tasks are such a second class citizen in many PIMs. Both Outlook, and Entourage (who's initial PIM model was heavily borrowed from Outlook) don't have a task feature that is compelling enough for me to use them. To make matters worse, we've been pimping Tasks since the introduction of Mobile Information Server (aka Exchange active sync). Since the killer scenario is synching wirelessly to exchange, not having tasks sync makes them even less useful (same for notes). Finally, Outlook Web Access in Exchange 2000 doesn't support tasks, but it was recently added to Exchange 2003.


Why am I writing this? Well I finally found a tool that bypasses the limitations above. It places my tasks on my Calendar. Now there's a useful feature. I stare at my Calendar and Inbox 99% of the time that I am looking at my computer screen. I've never been a “to-do” person so I don't even bother with tasks. However, I do look at my Calendar and being such an interrupt driven person (mostly reacting to problems and issues), the things I really need to do struggle to find importance with the things I have to do right NOW!


I first noticed Taskline 2.0 on this post from Robert McLaws. I installed it and found a nice side affect. By having my time based tasks appear on my calendar, they:



  1. Sync to my Microsoft Smartphone

  2. Sync to my Wrist.NET watch

Super cool! Now I can get gently (and forcefully) reminded of the things that I need to do. It's great when a third party can take what should be a useful feature, and make it work the way it's supposed to (like the google toolbar)!


I hope that Outlook can be designed around these kinds of scenarios in the future (promoting tasks such that the different calendar/task model is blurred). I've seen plenty of research data that shows that many users don't use tasks, and beginners and novices don't understand the difference between tasks that have start/end dates and calendar events.

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