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My Life Organized Review

Here we review My Life Organized(MLO), which takes a hierarchical task list and applies a Getting Things Done(GTD) interface. It supports multiple platforms, Windows, Android and IOS, but today I will be reviewing the Windows App. There are aspects of it that I really liked and the others……were excellent. Here’s the roundup.

My Life Organized (MLO)
8.3 Reviewer
Pros
• Multi-pltform support
• Intelligent next task selection
• Day/Time context entry
• Smart Text parsing
• Workspace personalisation
Cons
• Purchase for each OS needed
• Busy/Cluttered Screen
Bottom Line
A pretty comprehensive platform with advanced, smart functionality. Spans many operating systems but to cover Windows, IOS and Android, a separate purchase must be made for each totalling more than $100.

Introduction

There are many todo list, task management and GTD apps out there these days. But, surprisingly few of them have native Windows support. Bit of a shame really as there are many people who spend 8 hours a day in front of this interface so it would seem natural to have a native app. But no, in many cases a web browser must be used and in most cases the data will then be stored off site. Call me a traditionalist but I like having a local fast program that saves data on my computer. Such an approach may not be ideal for team collaboration where online services may be a more appropriate solution but for many people a single user application is sufficient for tracking their tasks. And, ladies and gentlemen, is where My Life Organized enters the picture. It offers a native windows app that saves your task information in a local XML file. That is not to say the data can only be accessed there, for it offers a variety of options for you to access it on multiple platforms. Let’s take a look at the program and the features in more detail.

 

My Life Organized User Interface

The User Interface can be divided up into three main areas.

To the left we have views, whereby the tasks can be sliced and diced and viewed from whatever perspective you wish. For example, the next task by project, tasks by context etc. Additional tabs can also be created, each with a different view. For example, you may wish to have one tab configures by project, another by context and another for active tasks.

The centre region provides a view of the task and allows new items to be entered in a hierarchical form. This is pretty straightforward.

The area to the right allows for task information to be entered. This includes the usual splattering of task info such as start and due dates, comments, effort etc. This can be disabled should you want a clutter free view of the tasks.

My Life Organized screenshot

MLO User Interface

 

My Life Organized Features and Functions

The first feature that needs to be highlighted here is the difference between the inputted tasks and the “Active tasks”. MLO takes all the stuff that you have entered, works it’s magic and tells you the tasks that you need to be doing now. It applies a series of rules to the tasks and the information about those tasks to work out the tasks to be done.

MLO also has inbuilt algorithms to determine a computed score priority. It takes the task importance, urgency and start/due dates and put’s it through some equations to derive the overall importance. There are some ways that the user can influence this task magic, such as adjusting the weighting associated to task priorities and timing. You may think this is more of an art than a science but to dispute that, here are the MLO equations – as shown in their help file!

If A <= 1025 then

x =  LogN(1025, A)

Else if  A > 1025 then

x  = 1+(1-(LogN(1025, 1025-(A-1025))))

end if

If B <= 1025 then

u =  LogN(1025, B)

Else if  B > 1025 then

u  = 1+(1-(LogN(1025, 1025-(B-1025))))

end if

For the current importance slider the value = A

For the current urgency slider the value = B

You compute x=importance and u=urgency with this formula

 

I can imagine most normal users will not require this level of detail but again I praise the thought that the developers put in here. The ultimate output from all of these equations is to rank the tasks in the Active To Do list according to the computed score. You can see this in action by moving the importance slider bar up and down for a task and you will then see it’s position on the table move up and down.

One interesting feature in the Windows App to enable context based task selection is the context calendar view. It looks like a weekly view from MS Outlook and it enables you to enter the days/times for each context.

My Life Organized Configuring contexts

 

MLO Context Definition

So, you can highlight 8am to 5pm for the @Work context, 6pm to 7am for the @Home context. This enables MLO to determine, given the current time, which tasks to display as it already knows which context you should be in. When testing this I inadvertently highlighted the wrong indicated the wrong times I would be available by assuming that you indicated the time you were free as opposed to not free. The developers even foreseen my silliness and added an inverse button to immediately reverse the section. I think just another example of their attention to detail with this app.

Tasks can also be flagged as folders, projects or even goals. This enables the filtering options for those categories. For example, to view the next task for each project or to hide tasks labelled as a folder from view. This is simple done via a tick box for the task.

The search function is also excellent. It is accessible from the home screen. Simply start typing and all matching tasks will be listed. I find it to be fast and fluid.

Some other basic, but important features are also in there. Tasks can be dragged and dropped for quicker manipulation and also tasks can be archived enabling a smaller data file to be in active use.

I also need to give a special mention to the parsing function on the quick entry window. In addition to standard task entry using the main window, a small window can be opened from the Windows task bar allowing for quick task entry into an Inbox (or any other folder!).

Rapid task entry

Utilising the text parsing function can streamline the task entry process and make the overall usage of the program more efficient

This enables ad-hoc tasks to be quickly entered into the system without opening the program window and interrupting the current, on-going work. So, the point of it is understandable but the execution is even better. MLO will essentially read your task entry and use it to populate the task information. So, if I write “MLO – Publish this article tomorrow”, MLO will understand the task to be “MLO – Publish this article”, and enter tomorrow as the due date under the task information as shown below. It can understand times, contexts and other task information and even set reminders!

Utilising the text parsing function can streamline the task entry process and make the overall usage of the program more efficient. My only wish for this would be an option to keep the dialog box on top of other windows to allow rapid task entry at any time, thereby saving a couple of clicks every time.

MLO Parse Test 2

Tasks list updated from Rapid Task entry Dialog box

 

It is also possible to link files which is an invaluable feature as many tasks come with supplementary information. To add such links, one needs to right click in the comments field.

 

Supported Platforms

This review has focused on the native windows app of MLO but boy are there a plethora of other options to access it. Let’s go through a few of them.

Mobile Platforms

In addition to the Windows app, MLO is also available on IOS, OSX and Android. I briefly looked at the IOS app and it also looks to be a competent solution. Data can be exchanged with the mobile apps in one of two ways,

  • WiFi Sync: When both the computer and mobile device are on the same wifi network they can be paired and with a click of a button on the mobile app they can sync their data.
  • Cloud Sync: With a paid subscription all devices can be synchronized.

Local Platforms

It is also possible to synchronise your xml with a central database file for situations where a small local may wish to collaborate. This ideal when the central file can be shared over a local network. This seems to be an historical feature and MLO recommend the cloud synchronisation which seems to have superseded it.

These various synchronisation options can be configured under a saved profile.

MS Outlook

MLO also offers MS Outlook integration whereby tasks can be exchanged between the two programs. I had one issue with this function though. The way I wish it would function is to sync the emails that require actions with MLO and when completed for those tasks to be marked so in Outlook. However, MLO seems to copy all it’s tasks over to MS Outlook which for me is overkill.

My Life Organized Pricing

 

The windows app can be your for a mere $29.95 for the standard version and $59.95 for the professional version. The professional version adds some more advanced features such as task dependencies, custom views and reviews, context schedule.It is $14.95 per year for cloud sync to mobile devices.  The mobile variants of MLO cost $29.99 for the IPad and $24.95 for the Android version. There is also a free version available for mobile devices with less functionality.  At present, you can get My Life Organized Pro functionality for free for 45 days at the iTunes store.  The Windows version of MLO can be purchased directly from the My Life Organized site. (Affiliate note)

 

Final Words

I really get the impression that a lot of thought went into this software. My Life Organized takes a simple hierarchical task list and applies a lot of clever features. Perhaps even to the point of being a bit geeky – for goodness sake, they have logarithmic equations in their help file! But I am OK with that as I appreciate this attention to detail. It is a pretty comprehensive platform, spanning many operating systems. But, for full functionality and to cover several operating systems a steep price must be paid.

 

Affiliate Note:

If you purchase those items through my links I may earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link.

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers! Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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8 Responses

  1. .dan.g. says:

    Hi Brendan

    Could you list for me your top 5 MLO must-have features that are missing from ToDoList?

    • Done Before Brekky says:

      Hi Dan,

      mmm. Maybe start by listing what I would not recommend 🙂 I think MLO is very much tailored towards a Getting Things Done methodology, and I don’t think ToDoList will be going in this direction. GTD can be implemented in ToDoList but that is not the raison d’etre for ToDoList. So, those aspects can probably be excluded as well as their ranking systems – context management, next actions by project, review etc. Also, an important aspect of MLO is to have an ecosystem to allow people access to their stuff from any platform otherwise it would be failing in enabling “My Life Organized”. I think also not the current strategy for TDL.
      In terms of some common features and differences I see.
      1. Sharing of data files in local teams. TDL has a single file which can be checked out. MLO seems to have a central file and each user their file which can be synced to this central file if I understand it correctly. TDL may be simpler to manage with a central file but I wonder does the MLO approach enable multiple users to edit simultaneously? Perhaps you know better than I here.
      2. MLO has a good search function. Like the quick find in TDL, but immediately shows all instances of what you are typing in real time.
      3. MLO has an option for ticking when a task is a project or a folder. This enables a couple of things. When ticked as a Project it can then be reviewed as such. Ticked as a folder and it can then be removed from certain views. In TDL, I think folders usually show up as tasks in list view. And if I remember correctly are also counted as tasks in the bottom right of the window. Perhaps there is an option to skip them from such views.
      4. I am not a big fan of entering all task information as it takes too much time and I normally don’t need it. But, some people do and for those the parsing feature of MLO is very interesting. It may allow for much more efficient entering of such data. Also adding “rmd” will add a reminder for the task. If this were done the normal way – entering the task, setting a due date, then setting reminder I think it takes much longer.
      5. It has an interesting sync with MS outlook. So, if you flag an email in MS Outlook it can be imported as a task. Ideally, this could be ticked off in MLO and synced back to Outlook to indicate completion but instead it seems to take across all tasks in MLO.

      So, a few thoughts on the differences but not really must have features I would say.

  2. Mike says:

    Hello, your review states that mlo supports linked files. I’ve read elsewhere that there is no option for attachments. Am I confusing two different things? Can you provide confirmation?

    • Brendan Toner says:

      Hi Mike,

      yes, two different things. In the MLO review I covered the Windows App and that App allows you to link to local files on your computer, or network. This can be done by going to the comments section of the Task, right clicking and selecting “Insert link to a file”. This is sufficient and even preferable in the case that all the files you need to work are on your PC.
      An alternative used by many multi-platform task management Apps is to Attach the files to the Tasks. So, the files need to be uploaded to a server and downloaded when you want to access them. The advantage is you can access them anywhere and can share them among distributed teams but the disadvantage is lots of uploading/downloading which may be unnecessary if the files reside on the same computer you always use.

      Brendan

  3. Mike Corbean says:

    Excellent, thank you for your reply.
    Couple follow up questions…
    1. does the windows version have the calendar view (w/ graphing feature, etc that is shown on their youtube page) that they originally released on ipad only?
    2. I’m having a hard time seeing myself make the transition to a task mgmt system outside of my email client (i use Outlook w/ the ClearContext add-in). can you comment on this challenge.

    • Brendan Toner says:

      Hi Mike,

      no I don’t see the Calendar view on MLO for Windows nor on their supported features on their site. It seems it is only supported on the mobile versions.
      Regarding transitioning from Outlook. I can understand the attraction of using the Email App, especially if your tasks are often derived from emails and the convenience of having email, calendar and tasks in one place. What kind of thing are you looking for? Do you need it only on Windows? Will it be shared with other people? Where do the tasks come from (projects, email etc.)? How would you like it to be organised (GTD, hierarchy) etc? You mentioned linking to files. So, do you work with MS office files for example and need to link to those documents?

  1. January 30, 2016

    […] Here we review My Life Organized(MLO), which applies a hierarchical task list to the Getting Things Done(GTD) methodology.  […]

  2. February 1, 2016

    […] Brendan Toner reviews My Life Organized, a hierarchical task manager with an interesting “do this next” algorithm and a Getting Things Done interface. […]

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