Today we’re going to take a look at Producteev, an awesome todo app that might just be enough to have you saying adios to Backpack and Remember the Milk.
Unlimited projects and tasks, labels, due dates, reminders, collaboration, automatic web/iOS syncing, email integration, this is the free task manager you’ve been waiting for.
The Search for Productivity
For years I’ve been looking for the perfect task management solution. A while ago when I snagged The Hit List from a software bundle I thought I had found it. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I absolutely love THL, I need something that I can take with me everywhere and the ever-promised iPhone app simply never came to fruition.
Things is an obvious solution. In fact, I won’t deny that it’s probably the best solution on the market for task management that syncs between a Mac and iOS devices. However, though I’d love to go this route, spending $60 for a glorified todo list is hard to justify ($50 for the desktop app, $10 for the mobile app).
My ideal solution would of course be free with a decent interface, accessible from both a Mac and iOS, and would integrate well with other applications that I currently use. Enter Producteev, what has to be one of the best free online task managers on the market.
Before we even get into what Producteev does, I want to define what I mean by a “free” service. Like many of these apps, Producteev has both free and premium plans. I currently use the free plan which gives me an unlimited amount of workspaces (we’ll get into those later) and 100MB of file storage for up to two users.
As you can see, plans vary from $0 to $30/month depending on the amount of file storage and number of users you’re looking for. I personally don’t usually need to attach files to my tasks so the storage limit on the free account has never been a problem.
What Is Producteev?
Producteev is a cloud-based task management service. Since it’s a web-based solution you can access your tasks from anywhere and any action you take will automatically stay synced to the free iPhone app.
As implied in the graphic above, one of the most amazing features of Producteev is its integration with all the services that you currently use such as email, calendars and instant messaging. We’ll get into how this all works later but now let’s jump into the two main interfaces.
The primary Producteev interface is that of the web app found at Producteev.com.
This interface is very well designed for a web app and actually feels more like a full-blown desktop application. In fact, I highly recommend using Fluid to turn the Producteev website into a Mac desktop app as I’ve done (the official Mac app is coming soon!).
The image above shows the typical task management software layout. Down the left side you can filter your tasks by those that are starred, due today, etc. You can also add a label (basically a tag) here and add other users to the project. There’s an interesting feature called Producteev Academy that rewards the top users in your team for their productivity.
Along the top you can add and switch “Workspaces.” These are essentially projects or groups of tasks that go together. You can see that I’ve organized mine by the blogs that I write for regularly.
Within a given workspace you create tasks by typing them into the bar and hitting add. Here you can perform a number of operations such as scheduling, assigning, labeling, etc. One handy feature is that the task bar is fairly intelligent. For instance, if you write “Mow Lawn August 8″ or “Take Out Trash Friday” the task will automatically be scheduled. There are also special characters shortcuts for adding labels, assigning priorities, switching workspaces, etc.
In the main section of the interface, you can view your tasks in a list view as seen above or in the calendar view shown below.
You can setup your tasks to automatically sync to Google Calendar and in turn set that up to sync to iCal. This provides you with an awesomely wide array of options for viewing your Producteev tasks.
The Producteev iPhone App contains a great deal of the functionality found in the web version but in a greatly simplified interface.
The default screen allows you to select a workspace to view or see an overview of the tasks from all the workspaces. Tapping on a workspace will bring you to the screen on the right where you can view and interact with the tasks contained within.
From here it’s quick to complete or star a task, view more info relating to the task or add new tasks. You can also use the buttons along the bottom to filter the tasks just like you could with the sidebar on the web app.
Notice that labels, deadlines, reminders, etc. all come in from the web app and can be added and tweaked from the iPhone app.
The one thing I’d like to see added to the iPhone app is a calendar view, which didn’t get carried over from the web app. Fortunately, you can easily see due dates from the list view but it would still be nice to see something similar to the default iPhone calendar here.
Tons of Integration
Producteev does an excellent job of providing you tons of choices for how to add and view tasks, reminders, etc. You can integrate email, IM, Facebook, and Twitter to retrieve task lists, add tasks, complete tasks, modify deadlines, add labels, assign priorities, move tasks and more. This is all without actually opening the app!
On top of everything mentioned above, Producteev has the most stellar product service team I’ve ever seen. When something doesn’t appear to be working, I shoot them a tweet and the strangest thing happens: they respond and usually fix the problem within a few hours! They don’t promise that in six months the next release will be better, they personally work with you to address the bug. Take notes web service industry, these guys have a killer combination.
I have a slight addiction to productivity applications and have tried just about everything out there. The value that you get with a free Producteev account is incredibly hard to match and I don’t see myself switching to another solution any time soon. The biggest glaring omission from the feature set at the moment is the ability to set up recurring tasks. Fortunately, the developers promise that this functionality is a high priority and is coming soon.
No matter what task management solution you’re currently using, I definitely recommend that you give Producteev a shot. Jump in and try the iPhone app, the web app and the associated services to really get a feel for the full power of the service. Then leave a comment below and let us know what you think!