Plan Your Complicated Life with Pocket Informant

There is an almost indefinite number of task & time management apps out there. Some are very similar in their approach, but there is the occasional app that stands out from it’s competitors by offering a twist to the way it handles or displays tasks and events. Pocket Informant for iPad is such an app.

While with almost all other apps in the productivity category you have to choose between task and time management, Pocket Informant takes an integrated approach. Read on to find out how well it works out in every day life.

The idea behind Pocket Informant

As mentioned in the introduction, Pocket Informant treats your days as an entity that can consist of both events and tasks, giving equal weight to both. This approach is reflected in the layout of the app, which is basically a calendar that shows all your important events (something that occurs at a set time and date) and tasks (things you have to do).

The Different Views

Pocket Informant offers a wealth of different views to accommodate different needs and different tastes. Views can either be changed by selecting one of the tabs on the right or buttons on the top if the selected index card offers them.

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Today View

As you can see in the Today View, the current tab displays both the name and icon, while the deselected tabs only display icons. Since there aren’t that many of them and the icons depict quite clearly what is meant, navigating the app is very simple and comfortable.

The Today View offers an overview of all events happening during the current day, with the duration being displayed to the left and a list-like summary of events and tasks shown to the right. The benefit of the layout becomes immediately apparent: you don’t need to open your calendar app to check on your appointments and then your task management app to see what you have to do – everything is right at your fingertips, summarized on one screen.

The Calendar View offers – as the name implies – a much broader view of your time. To the right you always have the months listed; you can move forward or backward quickly by simply sweeping up or down, depending on whether you want to check on past events or plan future ones.

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Day Calendar

Except for the day view, both your tasks and events are displayed in a calendar layout. You can move between dates by swiping left or right, again depending on where you want to go. Overall, navigation is very intuitive and comfortable.

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Week Calendar

When selecting the Task Tab all events are left out and you can focus exclusively on the tasks at hand. You can manage your tasks according to three different approaches (Franklin Covey, Getting Things Done, Toodledo), which you can specify in the app’s settings. To see all tasks, you have to select the filter “All Active”; just tapping on “Projects” or “Context” will only reveal their respective sub-categories, but not show the tasks associated with them. It’s a little confusing at the beginning.

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Task View

Create Tasks and Events

So, now that you know what goes where in Pocket Informant, how about taking a look at how to get information into the application? (apart from syncing which I’ll mention later) On the top right of the screen you can see two icons, a plus and a plus with a checkmark. With the plus, you can add events, via the other symbol tasks.

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Adding an Event

As you can see, there is a wealth of information you can enter, from due dates/times over alarms, attendees, tags and calendars. One very cool feature is the ability to add location information to events, right from Google Maps, without having to leave the application.

A very user friendly feature is available when having either the Days, Week or Month view selected in the Calendar tab. By tapping and holding down your finger on a day, you’ll be presented with a popup letting you choose between a new task or event. The benefit of this method: the date is already preset (you can change it, of course), while you have to set it yourself when using the icons on the top right.

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New Task/Event Popup

Online Service & Other Settings

Pocket Informant is available both for iPhone and iPad (and there’s a sync for Outlook as well), but how do you actually manage data on the separate devices? Quite easily, actually, via Google Calendar and Toodledo. Just provide your login data and Pocket Informant does the rest.

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Calendar Popup

There is a huge number of other settings (way too many to get into) that allow you to tweak almost every little aspect of Pocket Informant. The app comes with an introductory video that runs for almost 20 minutes and it’s time totally worth spending if you really want to get the most out of the app.

Verdict

Pocket Informant is an incredibly powerful app for people who are serious about managing their time and tasks. It takes some time to set up to suit the individual workflow and watching the intro video is highly recommendable. While the seemingly endless options can seem overwhelming at first, Pocket Informant convinces with its practicality. It works much better on the larger iPad screen compared to the iPhone, but it’s very useable on both devices. A direct sync with iCal would be really nice and is being developed, so the extra route via Google can’t be avoided for the time being. Apart from some minor issues I had with the design of the app (I do look for beauty & Pocket Informant sometimes does look a little Windowsy), Pocket Informant is an awesome app.


Summary

Pocket Informant is an incredibly powerful task management and day planner application with tons of great features, customization options and syncing capabilities.

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