Task Management – ToDoList vs TaskCoach

If you’re looking for free task management software, I’ve got a couple suggestions. If you’re managing tasks for a group of people and don’t mind Windows-only software, take a look at ToDoList. If you’re managing tasks for yourself only but need something cross-platform, then take a look at TaskCoach.

Task management is a level down from project management. I’m sure everyone is familiar with Microsoft Project, but there are actually more than a few enterprise-type applications available that would rival SAP in complexity. I needed a tool for my team that was less about calculating critical paths, resource loading, and slack time, and more about keeping track of the teams’ s multiple conflicting priorities so I could step in and lend guidance towards a bigger picture when necessary.

First, I tried FreeMind for several months. I liked the “everything draws from something else” nature of mind-mapping, and the team liked the graphical view of our collective tasks and how they related. On the downside though, it was hard to review tasks in a linear fashion in a meeting, so next I tried the Windows-only ToDoList.

I’ve been using ToDoList for almost two years now. It has a clean user interface, tasks are easily assigned, categorized and sorted, it supports hierarchical tasks (or sub-projects), and has a good selection of built-in filters and attributes.

However, recently I’ve started alternating between Windows and Unix laptops for Achievo development, and needed a cross-platform task manager (I should also say I’m currently the only developer working on this new Achievo functionality). After some research, I settled on TaskCoach for Achievo tasks. The user interface works well, and it’s similar enough to ToDoList that I didn’t need a neural reboot when switching between the two. So far so good for another month or two.

But then one day I found myself asking “Why exactly am I using two different task management tools?”. ToDoList and TaskCoach seemed relatively interchangeable, ToDoList has CSV export while TaskCoach has CSV import, and so I started on migrating my ToDoList tasks to TaskCoach without giving it a further thought. First came a minor irritation that ToDoList wouldn’t export the ‘Assigned-To’ for a task, but then I thought “No problem, I’ll just assign them later manually”, but then after another hour found it didn’t matter – because TaskCoach doesn’t support assigning tasks!

Note to self: Never dive in without giving something a further thought – especially when you’re absolutely sure you don’t need to!