Way back before iPhone.AppStorm even existed, we did a few iPhone app reviews on Mac.AppStorm. The original Put Things Off application was one of the rare apps that made it in during that time period. It was an attractive and extremely unique task manager that we really enjoyed using.
Recently, we were thrilled to get our hands on the newest iteration of the app, Put Things Off 2. Below we’ll take a look at the beautifully upgraded interface and walk you through the apps features. This is one review you won’t want to “put off” reading!
A Refreshingly Different Way To Get Things Done
Since many or even most of you probably missed our original review of the first application, we’ll walk through the app as if it’s our first time.
To do list apps are a dime a dozen. There are a million of them, all claiming to be unique while providing an only slightly different take on a list of items with checkboxes. The original Put Things Off app hit on a truly unique interface and system that is a breath of fresh air, and one I’m frankly surprise others haven’t duplicated.
The basic premise of the app is built around the fact that many of us are as good or better at procrastination as we are at actually getting things checked off our lists. Because of this, the app makes it easy to put tasks off and complete them at a later time.
The system is based on four different categories of tasks organized into four different screens: Inbox, Today, Put Off and Done. First, let’s take a look at the interface, then we’ll dive in to how to use these categories.
Users of the original app will feel right at home with the similar albeit much prettier interface. The first time you open the app you’ll be taken to your empty inbox, shown on the left below. The four boxes that I mentioned above are lined up along the bottom of the app.
As you can see, instead of the cliche list, tasks are organized into a grid of square notes on a wooden background. This view is definitely less efficient than a simple list but as much as usability experts insist that it isn’t so, there are in fact plenty of users that will sacrifice some efficiency for a little eye candy. I personally love the notes view but do think it would be nice to at least have the option to switch to a list view when you have lots of tasks.
Adding a Task
Creating a task is as simple as hitting the “+” button at the top right and typing in your text. Optionally, you can hit the “add date” button to schedule the task, which will send it off to another screen (we’ll discuss this later).
Moving and Stacking Tasks
Once you’ve got a few tasks in the system, you’ll probably want to impose a little organization. To rearrange your tasks, simply tap and drag them to where you want them. More importantly, you can drag one task onto another to create a stack.
Stacks of tasks can be arranged just like a single task and expand when you tap them. This is a great system for grouping your tasks into different categories. I like to create a task that stays on top with the name of that category as a quick reference to what’s inside.
Putting Tasks Off
When I first used the app, it definitely took me a few minutes to figure out how the system works. It’s actually quite simple though. You can select a specific box on the bottom to place a task into, but the default position is the Inbox.
The interesting thing here is that you can’t actually complete a task from the Inbox. It’s more of a simple holding place until you decide what to do with the task. Tasks in the Inbox have two icons on them: a star and a little arrow pointing right. These icons are the key to entire Put Things Off experience and correspond to the separate boxes along the bottom (notice that the icons update to show you if the boxes contain any tasks).
With this knowledge in mind, it becomes obvious what your options are for the tasks. From the Inbox, you can tap the Star icon to move the task to the Today box or the Arrow to move it to the Put Off box. Likewise, from the Today box, you can tap the arrow to put a task off or the checkmark to move it to the Done box.
The Put Off box contains any tasks that you either scheduled for a specific date in the future or simply chose to put off by a specific number of days (you can set this in the options window). They are organized by day of the week with anything more than a week out simply thrown into a “Later” category.
It’s Simpler Than It Sounds
The system sounds a little quirky, and it is, but that’s actually its strongpoint. Once you figure out how it all works, it really starts to feel second nature. In fact, you quickly realize that the app is built on the way that you naturally approach tasks rather than the traditional GTD model, which can have too much structure for many.
Once you’ve got it down, the basic workflow is as follows: When you think of a task, you’ll create it in the Inbox and then either mark it as today or put it off for later. As you go through the day, you mark off your tasks as you complete them and put off those you don’t think you’ll complete. It’s that simple!
Settings and Web Tasks
The basic settings for the app are shown below. The most important feature here is the control how long to “put thing off” for. This is likely to be very objective; I like to put things off just one day but you might be more prone to a three to five day gap.
Also here is the option to sign up for web tasks, shown on the right above. This service simply allows you to input tasks from anywhere using a simple web view (99¢ per month). These tasks will then sync to your device over the air in a second or two. Unfortunately, this service is super limited. You can’t see or manage your tasks in any way, only enter them and send them to your iPhone.
Just to be clear, this is a really great app. I always enjoy using apps that are boldly different, especially those in the productivity category. In its current state, Put Things Off is definitely worth the $2.99 the developers are asking for it. However, as always, I do have a few feature suggestions.
First off, I can’t seem to get in in my brain that you can’t drag a task to a box at the bottom. I like the icon system, but dragging seems like the intuitive action. The ability to drag tasks is already in place, they just need to turn the icons at the bottom into drop zones for moving tasks around.
I would also like to be able to complete a task from the Inbox. I understand the current process but sometimes I complete a task before I move it somewhere and don’t like the two-step process of moving it Today only to move it to Done.
Finally, I like the app so much that I simply want it to be in more places. When you’re used to a system that works on the web in addition to your Mac, iPhone and iPad, it’s hard to switch to one that exists in only on your iPhone (the web task system simply isn’t robust enough to count).
Fortunately, I have it on very good authority that the developer is working on an iPad app to be launched sometime next year. I’m personally really looking forward to it and will definitely let you know when it’s available. Now if we could just get a Mac app too…
To sum up, Put Things Off does what only one in a hundred productivity apps can: it succeeds in being both truly unique and truly useful. The newest implementation is a beautiful upgrade from the original with a few great new features like note stacking.
So what’re you waiting for? Go download Put Things Off and tell us what you think!