Nozbe Review 2016
In this Nozbe review, we consider this multi-platform task manager that prefers the moniker of task doer. Let’s see how Nozbe can help boost one’s productivity to get things done.
of the task durations, &
the ability to adjust swipe functions
• Team collaboration support
• Multiple platform support
• Integration with Evernote and Cloud storage providers
when working offline
• Lagging behind other
for features such as
smart date entry.
One, long standing player in this field is Nozbe. It is promoted as a task doer application that exudes simplicity and minimizes “task management”.
It is available on a few different platforms but for this Nozbe Review I will be focusing on the IOS Pro version which comes at a cost of $8 per month.
Nozbe User Interface
As with many task managers of this ilk, the user interface is broken down into three parts. The left side icons providing access to the major views and functions, the centre providing an overview of the lists and the right side listing the tasks in the selected project or context. Let’s start with the icons to the left.
Nozbe Review – user interface
The icons to the left provide access to the following functions,
- Priority list, comprised of the tasks that have been starred/highlighted
- Projects List
- Categories list, similar to contexts in Getting Things Done (GTD)
- Team, for adding and viewing team members
If this list looks a bit long that’s because it is. There are some items here which are not common in a task manager – News, Templates and Search. The “News”, icon is unnecessary. “Search”, of course is an important function but usually does not have a dedicated icon, normally just a search field. Finally, “Templates”. The ability to have predefined task lists is possible in other task managers but Nozbe has it front and centre for direct access. This is a nice feature to save time on setting up projects as you can already pre-configure the task details such as the context, expected time for each task, team member responsible etc. If you frequently have repeating projects that have the same steps then this is a nice time saver.
The centre field gives the lists of projects, contexts, calendar view etc. depending on the icon that has been selected. It is all pretty intuitive. One obvious omission relates to the Projects view. Nozbe relies heavily on labeling projects to enable filtering of the information. However, the labels are not listed along with the project. To see the labels associated with the project, one has to go through several steps,
- Select the edit projects button
- Select the Project
- Hit the “Change”, button. This brings up a window showing the Project colour and associated labels
- Hit the “Done”, button to close the window
This is unnecessarily time consuming to see what labels are associated with the Project.
One other short coming I see is for the calendar view. It is only possible to view the tasks by week. It is not possible to have future visibility of the tasks beyond the current week unless you select every week to see what is there.
Finally the right side gives the lists of tasks. From the task list, several key pieces of information can be displayed for each task,
- Parent project
- Estimated time required
- Due dates
All of these are defined for each task by selecting it and stating the due dates, estimated time etc.
In addition to editing the task details, several functions are possible directly on the task. Hitting the circle beside the task description indicates the task is complete and swiping the task left or right enables several other features such as defining task duration, defining the parent project for the task etc. This is a great feature, but even better is the ability to customize what swiping the task left or right will do.
Nozbe Swipe Configuration
The last item that needs to be highlighted is the text at the bottom of the task list. You can see that it provides information on the number of open tasks and more critically, the time expected to complete all of those tasks.
Sum of task effort
This is such a simple feature but fundamentally important. It is always useful to know how much time you need to complete a set of tasks to determine if they can be done in the available time frame. I have also touched upon this topic with my article on the Matryoshka Todo list, and I am surprised more Task managers do not provide this simple but important feature as standard.
Nozbe Features and Functions
As mentioned several times, Nozbe is multi-platform so can be used also on mobile platforms. For such mobile apps one needs to really optimize the interface to get the basic functions right so that they can be executed quickly and easily on the go, given the small touch screens on mobile phones and tablets that serve as the interface. Before I go to the more advanced features of Nozbe, let’s consider those fundamental aspects that need to be done well.
- Fast task entry on the go
- Fast manipulation of the tasks between lists
- Easy addition of labels, tags, or defined dates for tasks
- Quick and easy view of what is to be done given your current context
Fast Task Entry
No problem here with Nozbe. Clicking the + sign at the bottom of the task list will enable new tasks to be added. For users of the latest iPhones and iPad Pro, Nozbe will also support 3D Touch which gives direct access to functions such as adding tasks to Inbox, opening Priority list and Calendar directly from the Nozbe icon. For the PC and Mac, Nozbe has long since supported keyboard shortcuts to assist with fast task entry.
Thanks to the swipe function in Nozbe this is also easily achievable. You can configure the Swipe to immediately bring up a list of the available projects for quick and easy movement of tasks between projects or from the Inbox to any project. In addition to single task movement using the swipe feature, another great time saver is the ability to move multiple tasks by defining them and editing the task details for all of them. So, the Project for all selected tasks can be changed, along with any other task details for all of the selected tasks.
Multiple task simultaneous editing
Tasks can also be dragged up and down the task list as a form of ranking. I can understand the idea behind this to enable focus on the more important tasks or to indicate some order of execution but I think it would make more sense if coupled with a filter that could show the 1st task of every project. So, this would be like a Next Action for each project from a Getting Things Done perspective.
Addition of Task details
As indicated in the previous section this is quick and easy in Nozbe, especially with the ability to modify the details of multiple selected tasks. This is very helpful as it allows for batch editing of the tasks which is always good for productivity. The details that can be entered for each task include,
- Due Date
- Estimated Time
Task details entry
A couple of comments about this. First, the estimated time for the task. The times available range from 5min to 8 hours. I think this is reasonably well calibrated but there should be an option to set a custom time.
Labels for individual tasks also seem to be missing. It is possible to label projects, but not tasks. Finally, the comments window has some capabilities beyond what it’s innocuous title. Not only can you add text comments, but also checklists, attachments and link to various Cloud storage options.
Context based view
In Nozbe, the Categories view fulfills this function. It is possible to define several categories and use those as Context. For example, let’s say I setup several Categories such as Work, Home, Errands etc. If I find myself in any of those contexts and wish to know the tasks that can be done there, I need only select that category and it will show the list of tasks associated with that category. Again, a simple but important feature for task managers that need to be used any time and in any place.
One design decision that the Nozbe team feels strongly about is that a flat task structure be maintained in Nozbe. So, there are essentially two task levels (omitting the comment checklists). Those two levels are Projects and Task Lists, with the former simply being a collection of the latter. To help organization, Nozbe projects can be labeled and the colour changed.
Nozbe Integration and Task Sharing
There are a couple of possibilities for integration with other online services. Firstly, Evernote and Nozbe can be synchronized enabling Evernote notes and reminders to be imported. Secondly, Nozbe can link with Cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Box and Google Drive. This means that you can see the file structures from those Cloud storage options directly in Nozbe, select and file and attach it to the task.
Nozbe has also been designed to facilitate task sharing between distributed team members. This has become a common feature in many internet based task managers. The nice thing about the Nozbe implementation is that team members need not have a Nozbe account to collaborate on a project. It is only necessary for a Nozbe account holder to send them a request by email to enable them to access the project details. More detail can be seen in the video below, about 8 minutes in.
To enable team communication, a chat function is also available in Nozbe. This enables all task related communication to be held together with the relevant task instead of an external email chain(s). A couple of notable features about this chat function.
- When someone is mentioned in the chat communication using the designator “@”, that person will automatically get a notification on their phone, tablet or computer that they had been mentioned. So, I could type “@Sarah will handle this task”, and Sarah will get a Nozbe notification that she has been lumped with a pile of work in her absence!
- Comment pinning. From release 3.1/3.2 of this year, it is possible to pin a comment to the top of the comments window. This enables any user to immediately see the most pertinent communication relating to the task.
Although the supported platforms are not as numerous as the likes of Wunderlist and Todoist, all of the major players are covered including Windows, Mac, IOS, Android. This should satisfy the vast majority of users.
As with many task managers Nozbe comes with both free and paid versions. Since the free version is restricted to one person and only 5 active projects, expect to pay. The Pro version will cost $8 per month which provides unlimited projects and task sharing between two members. For Business application, there is the Business plan which comes in at $80 per month again with unlimited projects and supporting up to 10 members. You can download the Nozbe iPhone app or the Nozbe iPad app for free at the iTunes store or go directly to Nozbe to take advantage of their free 30 day package. (Affiliate note)
Nozbe Review Summary
Nozbe has most of the features that one would expect in such a task manager with some notable exceptions such as location aware reminders and smart date entry. There are aspects which I really liked such as the sum of task durations, easily accessible templates and task swipe settings. All, good, practical features to have. Other aspects could be improved such as it’s interface and smart features that rivals such as Todoist offer which become important for dealing with tasks on the go. If you found this article useful, please remember to share on your social network with the little buttons to the left of the screen!
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