Zendone is a polished, minimal, web-based implementation of Getting Things Done (GTD). It is the software equivalent of a gothically pimped piece of Ikea furniture called STOLVIKRLM and it aims provide a simple, elegant tool for proponents of GTD. Let’s review.
Web based task management is quite fashionable these days. With the advent of “the cloud”, it has made seamless task synchronisation across multiple platforms invisible to the end user. Each of these solutions will provide some kind of system to handle and dole out those tasks, be it simple shopping list style or the popular Getting Things Done (GTD) method which Zendone utilises. The collection method for this system is best described as a flow diagram, see below. It is this process of collection of “Stuff”, and providing it in a digestible manner for execution/completion that Zendone aims to provide.
It is not the only web-based system to use this system. Others include GTDNext, Nirvana and Vitalist to name but a few. So, there is undoubtedly some options out there for the consumer, so let’s see what Zendone has to offer.
The user interface is clean and uncluttered. Several key areas mirror the flowchart seen earlier in the GTD flow diagram,
- Inbox Processing
- Lists, reviewing and organising
- Do, next tasks
These can be seen in the screenshot below.
At the top of the screen there is a quick entry section for both single tasks and also for Inbox items which can then be processed later. For the quick entry, there is quite a nice feature whereby the task can be entered and in the same line, responsibility assigned, contexts defined and if part of a project, project selection. This makes for quick and elegant task entry.
As mentioned earlier the interface is rather polished. This is even evident in the task listing where options are hidden until hovering over them with the mouse at which point they appear for editing. Nice attention to detail.
Features and Functions
The functionality of the tool s very much centred around the Getting Things Done methodology. It does that, only that, and does it well. The workflow in Zendone can be illustrated in the diagram below, courtesy of the Zendone website. First, Stuff is collected in the “Inbox”, this is normally some task or issue that requires your attention. They are unceremoniously dumped there and reside there until you process them. Depending on whether they are actionable and when they are needed they then go into one of several lists, ASAP, Delegated, Someday etc.
All pretty straightforward, and the software then follows this flow.
So, for app operation we can go through a few simple steps to illustrate.
Step 1: Entering of inbox items
Hit the post-it note in the top left corner to be presented with a little note to allow quick entry of an inbox item.
Step 2: Processing of Inbox items
Here you can set various details for the task such as,
- Project, if any
This will then allow for filing and organising of the tasks into the ASAP, scheduled, Waiting for lists. Another nice point I see about the date setting is the multiple options for date entry. In addition to a standard monthly calendar view there is also options for “Today”, “Tomorrow”, “Next week” etc. In many cases due dates for tasks can be better considered in this form.
Step 3: Doing stuff
Finally, one has to actually do the tasks. Clicking on the “Do” tab will then list the first task in each project as well as any due tasks and ASAP items.
A few other points to mention regarding functionality. At present, I see only 2 levels of a hierarchy that can be formed. This is by creating Projects and then the subtasks of the project. In many cases more than this is desirable.
Also, there is the feature that files can be linked on the net, via http, ftp etc. Simple local file linking would also be nice. I do not see the ability for file storage so I assume Zendone does not allow this kind of in-house cloud storage
Zendone is primarily a web browser tool and links directly with Google calendar and Evernote. Indeed, it is even recommended to use Evernote as a collection tool, be it notes, photos, web pages, screen shots or whatever scrap of information will need to be processed. Apps are also now available for IOS and Android.
My main beef with many web based systems is the ability to import a batch of pre-existing tasks in the case where one may want to migrate to that system. As a stand alone solution, this question is also posed to Zendone, how do I import this without reliance on other apps? On the positive side though, Zendone does allow for exporting of tasks. Therefore if this system is not for you then it is possible to migrate to another platform.
At present there are two packages on offer, free and premium. The Premium package comes at a price of $5/month or $50/year and offers printing of task lists and unlimited Google calendar/Evernote integration. For the free package, Google calendar and Evernote notes are limited to a mere 30 entries per month.
Having gone through this review I am of the same conclusion as my opening statement – Zendone is a polished implementation of GTD. In my use I have not found much to complain about. Ideally, I would have liked a migration path to Zendone and the ability to link to local files. Also, given the restriction on the free version to only 30 entries per month for Google Calendar and Evernote users many people who want to have that integration will find themselves paying for the privilege. So, if you want a nice web-based task management system, you could do worse than Zendone. Try the free version, see if it suits and drop a note on how you get on!