I’m sure all y’all have heard way too much already about all the supposed “Web 2.0” services such as Gmail (I’m blogging about it whether you like it or not!), and I’ll bet you’ve heard of Remember The Milk already, but you have to try it to really appreciate what it can do; up until today, I never realized how much potential there is contained in that one little app.
My second quarter of courses started today, and I began as I always do: getting lists of assignments that will be due during the courses. I used Google Calendar first quarter, but RTM looks like it’ll be much easier, especially since I found the “Lists” feature that lets you categorize tasks into their own lists. You can even Archive a list, removing it from the tabs on the RTM homepage but still having it available. Sounds like Gmail for task management to me.
The interface is fully keyboard-enabled, which works very well as long as you stay in the tab (I only have experience with Firefox). Switching tabs and then coming back takes the focus out of the keypress/keydown/keyup/whatever-they-use event listener, rendering the keyboard shortcuts non-functional until you click on the page somewhere. It’s definitely more efficient for transcribing if the tasks are printed or (theoretically) in a separate window — I haven’t tested the latter case yet.
You can also subscribe to your task list in Google Calendar, where you can edit, complete, and delete tasks just like the main interface. That’s a very interesting feature in and of itself. Google has supposedly been working on a task list feature for Calendar since last April or so, but nothing has shown up yet. Ho hum.
One of the best features I have yet to find in RTM — besides its awesome task-management capabilities — is its Google Gears-enabledness (yes, I made that word up). Like Google Reader, you can take Remember The Milk offline and use it on a plane, boat, or subway, and even in the middle of the Sahara (provided there’s power, of course). When you get back to an Internet connection, you simply sync back up. The offline mode appears to support all task-related functions, but list management and other settings are disabled.
Tasks can be completed, postponed, and shuffled around between lists. Other people can send you tasks, and they will show up in your “Inbox” list. You can, of course, send them tasks right back. Tags, due dates, repeating tasks, notes, sharing, time estimates, and even a URL field round out the task attributes and operations. If you estimate the time for tasks, RTM will display a time estimate for all items on the list, making it useful indeed for deciding what to work on in that spare moment.
Like Gmail, Google Calendar, and 95% of all other Google services, Remember The Milk is a beta. It’s a definite Google-quality beta, though; all features are present and accounted for, nothing glitches (not yet, at least; don’t jinx me), and it reminds one of Gmail (some of the keyboard shortcuts are even the same). I think RTM will make a fine addition to my arsenal of tools. I’ve had an account since October, but never really used it until now, as I didn’t want to bother importing tasks from Google Calendar. Now that I’ve begun setting it up for this quarter, my hope is that it will make me more efficient at getting things done (GTD).