On making your todo list more effective…

Hello Folks,

I have put together a survey with a few questions on how you manage your tasks. Not only will it help me with my final thesis, it will also help me better understand how users manage their tasks.

Why it this important? The current tasks UI in Lightning is mostly a direct implementation of the technical spec. This might work for simple needs, but its far from effective for completing your tasks.

I have come up with a system that caters my needs, but as the goal is for lots of users with different needs to be able to use the system without frustration, I need to ask you a few questions.

The survey is not limited to Lightning users, everyone who has at least one task on his or her list should take a look. It should only take a few minutes to complete and most questions are multiple choice.

You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/1cJHjaa. I will analyze the results on August 20th, so don’t forget to do this soon!

Please share, RT this tweet and tell your friends. Bonus points for finding someone who you know handles tasks quite different than you do.

Thanks in Advance,


  1. Dear Philipp,
    I have just filled in the survey but I think there is something missing there: request for functionalities, unless you do not want the survey to be so open at this stage of your thesis.
    Anyway, maybe I can provide you with some feedbacks from a daily user (most of my job is dealing with tasks).
    What I miss:
    * having the possibility to link some tasks together: sometimes, not to say often, a task could only be performed if another one is completed. This also leads to automatically postpone a task if its parent is not completed. I do not think that it needs to be as much complicated as task management of a project manager tool (a task could be conditioned by many other tasks), but this will simplify user’s life managing a lot of tasks.
    * another killer feature would be the possibility to have templates of set of tasks: let’s imagine that someone is performing several missions a year and each mission is made with the same number/logic of tasks. By using a template and adjusting a single date then we could have a set of tasks in our todo list, with start/due date automatically set (see previous bullet)
    * possibility to automatically share/delegate/acknowledge tasks to/from someone else.
    * improved CSV import (long time i did not try to use it and I remember this was painful … maybe it is better now).

  2. Hi, Philipp, I’m filing the survey and I’ve found a question with no correct answer to me. It is “Do you find yourself wasting time by often checking your email?”. The are two “Yes” options and two “No” options, all of them followed by additional descriptions that make them all untrue for me. In mi case, I check and read my email very often, but every message at work represents a task/request/unit of work to do for me, so I don’t consider this is wasting my time (or my employer’s for what it worths). I’ve chosen the last answer in order to complete the survey, but it is not close enough to my case, IMHO.

    Thanks for your work with Lightning, BTW. :-)

  3. I, too, completed the survey. Since Fred was kind enough to pave the way for additional comments, I would like to add mine.

    First, I am delighted with the progress Lightning has made since its introduction. I evaluated it shortly after it was first introduced and found it did not meet my needs. Now, however, Lightning is pretty darn close. :-)

    The one feature I would dearly love to see is (as Fred mentioned) being able to link tasks together. Some apps call these “projects” or “goals”. I don’t need an industrial-strength Gantt-chart-creating project management system. But some way of linking tasks so that I know the project “Paint the windows” would include critical tasks like assembling the necessary tools and matching the existing paint before actually applying paint to wood.

    Find a way to do that as internal metadata (so the tasks still can be synced via CalDAV) and I’d pay for Lightning!


    • To agree with Steve.

      I’d love to be able to group tasks.
      But maintaining compatibility with CalDAV is essential.
      I currently use BirdieSync to keep my Thunderbird/Lightning calender and contacts sycned with my Android Phone, but this cannot sync tasks as there is no standard Android task app.

      I am looking at using CalDAVSync and an ownCloud server to fix this (and probably replace my calendar and contact syncing as well), so maintaining the CalDAV interface is really important to me.

  4. I noticed some of the questions were more gears towards project planning, it was difficult for me to answer because I would use other tools such as MS Project. I really like Lightning and Thunderbird, but they are for personal use and lighter tasks, the sort I also use Remember The Milk for.

    I agree with Ricardo’s comments about checking email, and the suggestions made by Fred and Steve would be useful, I’d probably use the tasks more if they were linked, but they tend to be a case of getting them done when time and events allow rather than goal driven as with work tasks.

    What I’d like to see with Thunderbird and Lighting is some of of integration with other apps or devices, so being able to sync my calendar and my contacts with my Android phone, at the moment I use RTM as a bit of a workaround for tasks, but no way to link those with contacts. e.g. buy birthday present for my sister

  5. Same as Ricardo! I check my e-mail all the time, but it’s part of my job, so it’s not a waste of time.