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  • Transcript: Overcoming the Limitations of GTD to Get Things Done Using 2Do (TPS137)

Listen to the audio for TPS137 here.

Are you frustrated with the limitations of the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology? Have you ever wished you could add a second context in your task manager, like OmniFocus? Then you don’t want to miss this episode where we break down the advantages and features of the powerful task manager app, 2Do. Mat Rhein, a member of the AE Dojo, shares from the vast research he’s done on his task management spirit quest and lays out what specific features in 2Do finally convinced him to make the switch from OmniFocus. If you’re looking for a task manager solution or concerned about the limitations or complexity in OmniFocus, have a listen as Mat makes a very convincing case for using 2Do to get things done.

Episode originally published 03 Apr 2017.

Mike: [00:00:06] Welcome to The Productivity Show, the Asian Efficiency podcast dedicated to helping you make the most of your time, attention, energy, and focus. In this episode, I’m joined by dojo member Mat Rhein to talk about the popular task management app 2Do. Mat created a thread in the dojo forum called “Everything 2Do” as Mat has answered many user questions about the unique features that 2Do has and explained why he likes it better than OmniFocus. If you’re looking for a task management solution but don’t prescribe strictly to the GTD or getting things done methodology or you’ve been frustrated with some of the limitations of OmniFocus and looking for something more flexible, you don’t want to miss this episode. Don’t forget you can find links to everything that we share in the show notes by going to the productivity show dot com slash 137, and now on with the show.

Mike: [00:01:03] So welcome back. For part three of our series on task management in this episode we’re going to be tackling 2Do which is an up and coming and pretty popular task management app that we hear a lot about from people who listen to the podcast read the blog and especially from members of the dojo. And in fact I have a special guest with me today. We have dojo member Mat Rhein. So welcome to the podcast Mat.

Mat: [00:01:30] Hey. Hey Mike.

Mike: [00:01:32] Thanks for coming on. Another reason that Mat is on the podcast is that Dojo members probably know Mat really well because he started a thread in the dojo forum called “Everything 2Do”. And Mat basically just shared his experience with 2Do, what he liked about it and kind of the things that were missing from OmniFocus that got him to move over to 2Do. And Mat you’ve done an awesome job answering people’s questions and sharing resources. So I wanted to have you on the podcast to kind of talk to us about how you’re using 2Do and kind of your whole process for how you landed at 2Do. But before we get there why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Mat: [00:02:12] OK so first of all I am really honored and humbled that I’m going to talk to you about my most favorite task manager. I’m a scientist by trade so I’m working in the lab and I’m coordinating projects, I’m a post-doc in a psychiatry lab dealing with how how addictions are already regulated genetically. Well I’m also a believer. I’m a husband of a beautiful wife. I love to train outside. Doing some calisthenics or other bodyweight exercises. Yeah. Just basically curious about humankind in general and productivity in special.

Mike: [00:03:05] Awesome. So you’re definitely in line with an Asian Efficiency’s core values it sounds like of going green and becoming the best version of yourself.

Mat: [00:03:15] Yeah, trying to improve on that daily.

Mike: [00:03:18] Awesome. Well like I mentioned this, the idea for this episode came from the dojo thread “Everything 2Do”. Now one of the things specifically that caught my eye in this thread Mat was that you put together this comparison chart which is amazing. Dojo members have access to this where you basically compared all of the key features of several different popular task managers side by side and you’ve got checkboxes for which ones have for example start dates which ones don’t which ones are available on different platforms, the price levels, the demo versions, whether there are in-app purchases. How much time did take you to put this together?

Mat: [00:03:59] It would be wrong of me to to take the whole the whole credit for this work. It was common– It was a collaborative project between a previous co-blogger of mine and me. We thought we wanted to blog about productivity a lot. The blog was named geek out. And it was a German blog and Tomas asked me to translate his his posts and I also got to write about 2Do for instance. And we used this as a as an overarching concept paper and so that was that was really the source of it. And I thought it would be a nice a nice nice overview for all of all of the people in the dojo because I really think that Dojo was the best thing in collaboration about productivity that is around right now.

Mike: [00:05:00] Well we are definitely glad to have you as part of the dojo and also part of this thread in addition to this awesome comparison chart. You also broke down the features in 2Do that weren’t in OmniFocus kind of what got you to switch. Well we’ll get to those in a minute. But this dojo thread is amazing, but first what I want to ask you is how did you come to use 2Do as your daily task manager.

Mat: [00:05:25] Okay so yeah this ties in with with the emotions that go that maybe is also behind this OmniFocus vs 2Do comparison because. Yeah I started everything started out basically with OmniFocus. I was starting out of like everyone at that time did about I don’t know 12 years from now using OmniOutliner, the outlining tool from the Omni group and then a guy came up and tweaked on Omni outliner into a task manager and that was then named kink-less GTD and I used the heck out of that one on my first Mac. It was very nostalgic. And finally this this Kinkless GTD became and [Name] got tired by OmniGroup and they they collaboratively put together OmniFocus, the first version. I was absolutely hooked. Yeah. From there on it was only OmniFocus above all. And I used the heck out of it but eventually it reached its limits and then I started to look around. I checked out other productive productivity managers like Things. Like Thanh I came to know also did now. The hit list, Todoist, and well I ended up in finding 2Do out of curiosity and buying into it and basically that’s that’s three years from now and I never looked back. Basically, so that’s my story.

Mike: [00:07:14] Nice. We’ll get into some of the specific features of 2Do in a little bit but do you want to maybe talk about 2Do from a high level perspective and just explain what exactly it is. And actually the episode I believe as we’re recording this aired today that’s Episode 135 where Thanh and Brooks talked about the different levels of task management systems. And so in that episode we talk about how there are very basic digital to do list apps and then there are project managers which allow you to group your tasks and then there’s the comprehensive task management system which is kind of where 2Do falls in. So maybe you can kind of take it from there.

Mat: [00:08:01] Okay so 2Do basically the philosophy behind 2Do is that you are not bound to any organizational system at all. So 2Do views itself as a toolbox. If you look at if you look at other apps like OmniFocus and Things they have a very clear use case scenario in mind how to use the app. And this is not the occasion 2Do and this has both advantages and disadvantages of course.

Mike: [00:08:36] Right. Yeah I know that you mentioned OmniFocus came from kinkless GTD. So obviously it’s got GTD or getting things done that methodology is kind of at the root of it.

Mat: [00:08:48] Exactly.

Mike: [00:08:49] And I know like one of the limitations that people have with OmniFocus and they ask us all the time is how do I assign more than one context while you can’t because in GTD there is only a single context, but you can kind of get around that in 2Do, like you said it’s more flexible and actually the AppStore description says from GTD to X Y Z and everything in between. Which I thought was pretty clever.

Mat: [00:09:11] Yeah. Well when you first when you first open 2Do you get a very nice introductory slide where all the features are hammered back at you, which is kind of overwhelming I think but it is a good display of what what is possible. And that was also the reason for this for this comparison post in the dojo that I was so so fed up with the limitations and the quirks that existed in OmniFocus since its inception more than 10 years ago. I was happy to find an alternative in 2Do that would make me do things that I couldn’t do in OmniFocus. So yeah that’s that’s basically the point.

Mike: [00:09:56] Yeah there’s a ton of features and 2Do does do a very good job of on-boarding you and explaining everything- it can be a little bit overwhelming if you are not familiar with task management because there is so much stuff in there. But if you’re coming from a system like OmniFocus or Todoist or something like that. A lot of the stuff is going to be familiar, and you put a link here in the show notes to an introductory video on 2Do. Which we’ll include. Now you also put in here a couple of different ways for prioritisation. I’m interested to get your take on this and how you use this because when it comes to priorities I think that there’s some some flexibility is good. Like you have in here the tags and you can have multiple tags per task so that’s better than having a single context and the stars are basically the equivalent of flags in OmniFocus so if you wanted to use the Asian Efficiency workflow in 2Do you can definitely do that. But the priority levels– this kind of bugged me at first because I have this thing in my head where people are coming from a corporate background where Oh this is priority one this is priority two, this is priority three, and really what I discovered to my own personal experience is that when everything is a priority nothing really is. So I’m curious how how you implement this and kind of where you’re finding the usefulness and the balance between these different prioritization methods.

Mat: [00:11:20] Okay so basically I’m taking 2Do at its word and I’m not using it in any orthodox fashion or so. So in terms of priorities this is more like more like an energy based discrimination. So one would be the high energy requiring tasks. Two would be the mid-range and three would be the brain dead stuff.

Mike: [00:11:53] Now that is a really interesting and I think that’s a brilliant idea. I may have to to try that out because I’ve done that in the past where I’ve had different perspectives that I’ve created they are context based off of high energy, low energy, and I never thought when I was playing around with 2Do to use the priority system that way, that’s a good idea.

Mat: [00:12:12] So so basically that’s– I ripped that off Thanh. He he also told told about it in this in this overview podcast and then Brooks mentioned it. It’s a it’s a very clever thing to do because if you look at energy you also have some sort of a day structure. So you would you would tackle the high energy requiring tasks early in the morning like your MITs.

Mike: [00:12:43] Yeah that makes sense.

Mat: [00:12:44] And the brain stuff is for for the early afternoon, late afternoon when you’re anyway only prone to clicking some links on YouTube.

Mike: [00:12:56] Nice. Now you have a section here on some of the dangers of the pitfalls of using, this seems like just a complex task task manager in general but maybe some of this is specific to 2Do so why don’t you talk us through this.

Mat: [00:13:12] OK. So the very first thing that you notice when you open 2Do and when you get really get into it and want to plan something actually, you discover the task entry and it’s quite it’s quite funny in the in the in the manual. That is a very valuable for 2Do. There is a slide that gives an overview of all the features that are packed in this task entry stuff. It’s 13 points and there’s more red numbers than any of the task window left to see. That’s really. That sums it up perfectly because you have to have the opportunity to do anything with 2Do you can you can the gimmick or the gist of really getting getting good at it is to limit yourself to a certain set of these myriad of opportunities and then stick to it. And this is the really hard thing and this is something that is solved better in OmniFocus or things which limit you by default. Yes so. So feature overload would be would be one of the dangers. And you have to– you have a lot more responsibility in terms of making your own structures like I demonstrated with the priorities. You can do anything but you also have to do something otherwise you will end up with an endless list that is not structured and you will you will have the opposite of oversight.

Mike: [00:14:54] That makes sense. You also have in here the limited planning depth. So what do you mean by this?

Mat: [00:15:01] Oh Yeah. Now one of the beauties of 2Do is that it syncs with Reminders. You guys at Asian Efficiency are always highlighting integration. And to me, a task manager that is sinking with Reminders is the best, is the best example for integration because at that point you have an interaction with all the other Reminders supporting calendar apps for instance and you can display your tasks in a calendar simply by having this common ground of syncing. But the problem well — I have no idea how how they did it with 2Do – this whole feature set is synced somehow through the Reminder system. I have no idea how they do it. Some of it is true through text delimiters like prioritization would be exclamation marks. One two three. Due to this sync with Reminders they are limited to not having subtasks, for instance. You have a project level. So you have you have you have list groups then you have lists, lists would be your your project folders. Then you have projects, and tasks and this is as deep as it goes. Whereas in in OmniFocus you can plan 13 subtasks deep if you want. So that would be a limitation.

Mike: [00:16:37] Yes some people will need that that functionality, I think most people probably could get away without the subtasks. One of the things that we see a lot of people do is they have a task in OmniFocus that really should be a project because there are several different pieces to it. And so if you follow the Asian Efficiency advice of breaking down your task as far as you logically can you can probably get around this.

Mat: [00:17:02] Yeah absolutely. Now the point is in OmniFocus you need a, you need a project before you can even enter a task into into the folder. Which is not the case in 2Do, so in 2Do you just have your lists that can contain a project and along side of that project there can be a task. So that that would be an example for something that is that was bugging me a lot- that I need to have a project before I can enter a task into into a certain area.

Mike: [00:17:36] Yeah that makes that makes sense. And that’s again a GTD limitation because David Allen would say “Well what do you do when entering tasks if you haven’t thought through everything” you know you have to have the context and all that stuff, you have to have all identified before you can start working on stuff.

Mat: [00:17:51] But you can have single tasks.

Mike: [00:17:53] Yep yeah that makes sense. So what about the Reminders sync?

Mat: [00:17:58] Oh yeah that’s that’s actually a beauty of it. You can you can just share your Reminders list with with your spouse for instance.

Mike: [00:18:07] OK.

Mat: [00:18:09] She can she can put tasks in and they appear directly in 2Do. But if you edit tasks that were put in by 2Do, to a certain extent and I don’t know what extent that precisely as you are in danger to lose your additional marks, features, reminders, priorities, that that are coded within the Reminders. You understand. So if you look at the task in Reminders you don’t see any any of these things, and you endangered, if you manipulate it in Reminders or in another Reminders syncing task manager. Then you go, then your in danger to lose your 2Do featured entries that are hidden from your site.

Mike: [00:19:08] So it sounds like 2Do does a great job of importing things from Reminders but it’s assuming that all of the management is going to take place inside of 2Do. And if I’m hearing you right, what you’re saying is that if you try to manage that stuff outside of 2Do like directly in the Reminders list that can cause some inconsistencies.

Mat: [00:19:27] Exactly. Now it doesn’t go far for checking off things. You know I’m using Informant as a calendar app and it is pretty similar to Fantastical, as in it able to display both your Reminders as well as your calendar data, and I can easily enter tasks for instance and they will appear to do. And I can also check off tasks that I see in my in my daily daily processing but I wouldn’t go further than that.

Mike: [00:20:05] OK. So that’s actually pretty nice though that you can manage that stuff outside of the actual application when you were saying you can share Reminders list for example, my wife and I share reminders lists all the time. I can’t get her to use OmniFocus which is fine. But it sounds to me like this would allow us to collaborate on these lists but it would still allow me to manage them inside of 2Do which is kind of a nice feature. What are some of the other killer features in 2Do that you really like or what are the things that specifically got you to switch over from OmniFocus?

Mat: [00:20:41] Okay so what’s– the biggest gripe I had with OmniFocus is if I deferred a task to a certain day and I didn’t get around on that day to either do a daily review or handle that task the next day it was gone. It was back in Task Manager Nirvana, and that in in that that is that was the main feature that draw me to 2Do. 2Do has a “still working on” area. So a task that has a start date it started say today, tomorrow it will be in “still working on” area and it will not be gone because it will be in the today view, clearly visible and approachable and not– so 2Do recognizes that I started this task and it expects this task still to be more relevant than all the other stuff that is still in somewhere in the depths of the planning nodes. So that was that was the major feature. And time by time I also discovered through the Reminders sync to have my due tasks in my calendar and to have my checked off tasks also in my calendar. So when I do my weekly review I can. I don’t have to jump between OmniFocus and the calendar app and anything else I just have my calendar. I see all the tasks that I’ve checked off at what time and at what date. And that really solves a lot of oversight problems for me. So these are the main features for me.

Mike: [00:22:43] Yeah I can see where that would be useful. A lot of people use the completed perspective in OmniFocus to get a list of what they were able to accomplish that day. But if you go in your calendar app and see all of that on a specific day that makes a lot of sense. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about this email integration. I know that 2Do so has some sort of in-app purchase where it can scan your inbox and automatically turn emails into tasks. But I haven’t used this nearly as much as you have so.

Mat: [00:23:17] Yeah this is also a very very interesting and innovative approach that 2Do has on this thing. Other other task managers you have to you have to send those e-mails specifically to that task manager to a certain e-mail address. That’s how Todosit does it. That’s how OmniFocus does it. Now 2Do switches perspectives around. Basically what it does with that in-app purchase, and by the way this is not a desktop feature. This is a mobile only feature. So your mobile version has to run and track your e-mail in order for this feature to work.

Mike: [00:24:02] Does it exist on both iOS and Android? Because I know that 2Do has an Android app as well.

Mat: [00:24:07] I am sorry I have no, nil experience with Android.

Mike: [00:24:14] Me neither honestly but I do know that we get asked about that once in a while- but that is actually an advantage of 2Do over something like OmniFocus as well is that if you have an Android device that you’re using there is a native application for it.

Mat: [00:24:29] Yeah maybe. Maybe if this time in the end I have some sort of the latest and greatest for both apps from the Twitter feeds which is very interesting, now but this email feature. It does the opposite of you have to email something there- it looks at your inbox, it looks at your labels in Gmail. And for instance if I have a task, an email labeled 2Do I can set the settings in this in this email feature in 2Do to import this label email as a task into my inbox so I don’t have to do anything but label my email and all the rest is done automatically by 2Do, which is great.

Mike: [00:25:19] Yeah that sounds pretty awesome. In your experience is it pretty– I guess the thing that I thought of when I read about that feature was it sounds great but in reality it sounds like it could frequently miss things or I don’t know I just didn’t seem like it would be– it would take some training at least in order to get it to function effectively. So in your experience was it something that just kind of worked out of the box or did you have to kind of fiddle with it to get it to work the way that you expected it to?

Mat: [00:25:51] At the moment, it didn’t work. My mobile clients weren’t running or had no Net access. So every time your mobile client has access to the Internet this feature is quite bulletproof. I’m not you I’m not using it very extensively because I — actually I tend to keep those areas separate, as separate as possible, e-mail and task managers.

Mike: [00:26:20] I think that’s probably a good idea.

Mat: [00:26:23] So I’m using the heck out of the quick entry window and then I’ll just copy and paste old school email paragraphs into the Notes field of that of that little quick entry. And that’s what I do.

Mike: [00:26:41] Nice. I do know that some of our recommended e-mail clients like MailMate is the one that I use, and I also know that AirMail has direct integration with 2Do as well, so I believe that that would give you the link back to the original message if you wanted that functionality also. You have something in here about display modes which I know of at least one person who gave up on OmniFocus because they couldn’t manually sort tasks so.

Mat: [00:27:09] Oh yeah, there were two other gripes that I had with OmniFocus. The first one was that a task that is deferred and due at the same day will appear twice. Taking my Today view double that long if that’s the case for every task, that was there was a big big gripe which is not not available in 2Do. Hopefully they won’t implement that feature as well. The second the second thing is this perspective thing, in 2Do you have the choice of 12, 12 different sorting options for your tasks among which is a manual mode. And this goes for mobile as well as for the desktop. So that’s another big difference. The mobile version of 2Do is completely on par with the desktop version.

Mike: [00:28:12] Nice.

Mat: [00:28:13] So you can you can batch manage tasks you can sort tasks manually. So for instance if I have a — and this goes project wise this is really beautiful. So you have for instance a whole list of projects that are sorted by priority and you expand one of those projects and you want to sort only the the elements in that project manually by your personal preference and you just of you can. You can just drag and drop one of those tasks and automatically 2Do will ask you “Do you want to sort this project manually.” And from there on it’s just you can you can drag and drop. And this goes for the today view as well.

Mike: [00:29:07] That sounds really nice. Like I said I know of at least one person who absolutely loves that feature. Also you have in here the copy and paste you want to explain this because I’m a little bit a little bit confused by this, it sounds like when you copy and paste a task all of the details are properly formatted in plain text but I don’t understand how that’s actually possible.

Mat: [00:29:32] OK so why I put that in is. I mean using Day One to journal, and I have finished tasks section in my in my daily daily review entry. When I when I put in when I go to 2Do and go to my completed tasks area and mark all the tasks that I’ve completed today, and simply go Command-C and go command-v in an in Day One, then it will have entered all my tasks with a nice check mark with a date when this was finished and the time when this was finished and it will also have the priorities then put out in plain text like three check three exclamation marks for high priority and such.

Mike: [00:30:33] That sounds pretty cool.

Mat: [00:30:36] So as a reference then I can always go back to see what what project this was belonging to or something of the likes, in my weekly review for instance.

Mike: [00:30:47] Very nice. How do you do your weekly review in 2Do, because I know that that was one of the killer features in OmniFocus 2. It actually started on the iPad version but they actually they have a perspective which allows you to quickly go through and do your weekly review but that–

Mat: [00:31:03] This is actually this is actually something I really miss. Yeah this is yeah. You know you gain you gain a lot of freedom but you sacrifice structure, and this is this is one of the beauty of OmniFocus. You just have a perspective you can set different at different review times for the different projects. This is a very fine grained and very very nicely done. In 2Do you have to set up your own schedule and that’s harder than it sounds. So you when I do a daily review I’m going over and I have a smart list that gives me all the other projects that are that are active and I’m going only through those active projects.

Mike: [00:31:59] I know Smart Lists was another feature that you had on here so why don’t you explain a little bit more what Smart Lists are because I played around with this and they are super cool.

Mat: [00:32:09] This is now we’re getting into into the mind boggling things that are hard to explain without a visual. But let me say, I’m searching for a task I’m searching for a task that is in this specific project list. And it’s also, it has a certain priority and it has a certain due date. Now I can, when I when I’m searching for these tasks there’s always the option to make this search a Smart list and Smart list means that the output that you get from that search would be the equivalent of what you end up with when you always click at that button in your in your in your list view. So you say you only want to see all your high level priority tasks that are due in the next seven days. And when you’ve got that when you when you finished that search and you got the display the same way as you wanted. You can just click a button and say OK I want always. From now on I want to see even even three weeks from now I want to see on my level three priority tasks that I’d do in the next seven days. So with a dynamic time range that’s a Smart List.

Mike: [00:33:37] Would it be fair to compare them to smart mailboxes in Apple Mail or mailmate?

Mat: [00:33:43] Yes absolutely. Absolutely yeah. And actually the task that the there is there is a helper window. Below the search window that looks pretty much like like that mail filter, where you can have dependencies and boolean connectors and all the other productivity stuff that you can geek out.

Mike: [00:34:12] Nice.

Mat: [00:34:13] And one feature is outstanding. 2Do is the only the only app that that is sporting that it’s called sound-ex and it’s overlooked quite easily. But it’s quite beautiful because let’s say you don’t quite remember the name of that person you wanted to look at the tasks up for and I don’t remember how how John was spelled. Now what was it with with a with an H. Or was it without an H and sound-ex is, if you activate it, it gives you just all the results that sound like John. So it will include John with H. It will include John without h. It will include Johanna for instance. And that’s that’s that’s beautiful if you if you can let 2Do help your mind recover the information from the database.

Mike: [00:35:20] Yeah that, I saw you put that on the list there and I’m glad you put that example in and because I never would have thought that that was even a thing that you could do.

Mat: [00:35:31] Yeah. Most people don’t.

Mike: [00:35:35] I’m also a big fan of Gmail keyboard shortcuts. I mentioned I use MailMate as my email client because it’s got a ton of Gmail keyboard shortcut support and the whole thing happens in markdown. So I’m really curious you mentioned there’s a shortcut for everything and you even put Gmail-like shortcuts so you want to explain some of these?

Mat: [00:35:54] Sure. That’s that’s actually when you’re when you’re really tackling your today view for instance, and you want to defer and want to reschedule things. It’s really easy. You you highlight you highlight three tasks that you want to defer to tomorrow, you just press the letter D and it will automatically open the default window for Due next. It will give you a calendar basically. And you can defer all three tasks just by pressing the letter D. The same goes for setting a new start date, which is termed scheduling in 2Doo. You press K and you’re there, or you want to change priority on a project or say three projects out of your 10 projects that should go in the highest level of priority class. You mark those three and you just press number three and all of them are marked with Priority three. It’s beautiful. And it’s really really fast. I love that.

Mike: [00:37:10] Very cool. There’s another feature in here which I’ve actually used a separate application to replicate that’s just customizable nagging feature. I’ve used Due, D U E, for things that I absolutely did– I needed to make sure that I did not forget about these things somebody asked me to send them something later in the day. I’ll put it in Due just because Due will continue to nag you won’t just give you a notification once that whether you see it or not it’s not going to buzz again. This customizable nagging feature though. This is in 2Do also it sounds like.

Mat: [00:37:44] Yes you can. That’s the problem about this is you can only switch it on or switch it off. So if if this thing is nagging it’s going to nag the whole time. So the recommendation also from from from the from the developers is that you only set it nagging on one on one device and you can preferentially silence that device properly.

Mike: [00:38:17] Yeah I guess that would that would make sense you wouldn’t want those nagging reminders on every every Apple device that you have for example.

Mat: [00:38:24] Exactly – you want to avoid that. But but it’s actually quite nice so you can you can just go into the settings and you can you can determine whether you want to be bugged on a quarter hour basis or half an hour or daily if you haven’t completed your task. I found this very very helpful in association with the “still working on” feature. These two go along very well.

Mike: [00:38:56] It’s always bothered me that I’ve had to use two different apps for these sorts of nagging reminders.

Mat: [00:39:02] Simplify simplify.

Mike: [00:39:02] So they may be enough for me to switch over to 2Do. But I’ve tried it once already and I’ve got to tell you that when I look at everything I have in OmniFocus I just feel guilty when I have thought about switching over to another system because I’ve been using it for years. But I guess you know if you did it then I can do it.

Mat: [00:39:19] Oh man you know OmniFocus will always be my first love always and especially that’s what what makes – what made me so happy to see that development is so vivid on OmniFocus as well because I just I just checked the tweets of Ken Case, the boss of the OmniGroup and he said that multi-tags will come, complex repeats like every third Monday. What is possible for two and a half years in 2Do, you will get a nagging feature, you will get bath editing. So Mike perhaps you don’t have to switch. Maybe maybe waiting out until until the OmniGroup is waking up to these features. Might be might be helpful. But on the contrary side 2Do’s founders will also not sleep or end. They are planning a web app.

Mike: [00:40:21] That would be nice.

Mat: [00:40:22] Which would be the most –the best. The best thing for platform switching people. And they are they’re planning a syncing service, as of as of lately. So these two features will come in the near future to 2Do. They will still be two quite different beasts. I’d say.

Mike: [00:40:51] Definitely. You kind of mentioned this already but 2Do kind of gives you the flexibility to kind of craft your own system whereas OmniFocus is kind of built around GTD, although it sounds like maybe that’s changing if they’re implementing the multiple tags and things that.

Mat: [00:41:10] I was astounded to read it as well. Yeah. So we’ll see. But I like that that that the these these GTD borders are now slowly easing easing up with OmniFocus cause it’s way too rigid in a nowadays planning system to only have one context. If you, if you don’t have a priority system to use energy based planning you definitely would would have another context associated with that energy system. Well you don’t have to go as far as 2Do like you have a certain you have certain actions for your phone and adding a URL and so that you only have to click on one button in that task and it will automatically call that person or a certain certain place feature which is also integrated in OmniFocus. But you definitely want more than one context. If that thing has to do you want to do that in New York and you want to do it with your brother. You want to have both tags there. If it’s optional.

Mike: [00:42:33] Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Why don’t we talk about some of your favorite 2Do workflows, you’ve got a couple of them in here. Let’s start with the one where are you talking about connecting Evernote to 2Do. Because this is one of the things that people ask us all the time is how do I use OmniFocus and Evernote together so, how do you use 2Do and Evernote together?

Mat: [00:42:58] So connecting connecting Evernote to– So what I meant by that is you know your linking an Evernote note to a 2Do task. I think that’s that’s possible also in OmniFocus but you can, the beauty of 2Do is that you have a specific to do– you have a specific URL action. So in OmniFocus when you put paste that URL into the Notes field does it get hyper, does it become a hyperlink? I’m not sure.

Mike: [00:43:35] I believe when you paste a link in the Notes field it does become a hyperlink but basically there’s just the notes. So you can manually grab a classic link for example from Evernote.

Mat: [00:43:47] Yes exactly.

Mike: [00:43:48] And then put it in there. But I also know that 2Do has some additional types of things that you can use in the Notes field. So for this one specifically is there like additional integration or are you still just using the classic note link, which is still worthwhile to go over because this is something that you can use in a lot of different task managers like 2Do, like OmniFocus, like Todoist.

Mat: [00:44:10] Exactly. So yes the outstanding thing in 2Do is that you have a special URL action. So you paste that classic link into that URL action area and then this button. This will become a button in your task. So the moment you read that task you can just click the URL button, you will be taken back to Evernote without any further ado.

Mike: [00:44:41] OK. So for people who aren’t familiar with this in 2Do basically what you can do is you can attach a bunch of different types of files to a specific task. You can have a call for example where it’ll pull in the phone number from the contacts or you can attach a video file if you want to, or an audio file. What you’re saying is that there is there’s a button there for the link and then all you have to do when you see the task is just click the button for the link. You don’t actually have to go into the notes like you do in OmniFocus. Scroll down the notes field find that link that you had pasted and click on it.

Mat: [00:45:13] Exactly. That’s it. But that’s only a simplification and it comes with the cost of having yet another feature to bloat this perspective of task entry.

Mike: [00:45:27] Right. What about Project processing? What did you mean by this one?

Mat: [00:45:32] OK so this is this is basically my my workflow. When I when I come up with with an idea for a project I usually do that in Evernote or I’m doodling on a mind node in the MindNode app. Then the next thing would be that you can for instance just export an OPML list and import it into 2Do from the from, or you have you have a bullet list in Evernote which was your sketching up of the project. You could just you just copy and paste those into 2Do. They become individual tasks. So it’s it’s parsing anything you throw at it’s quite nicely.

Mike: [00:46:19] Nice. Even the Evernote formatted text it can interpret?

Mat: [00:46:24] Yes exactly.

Mike: [00:46:24] That’s interesting.

Mat: [00:46:26] So it’s just it’s just making single tasks out of your bullets.

Mike: [00:46:31] Very cool.

Mat: [00:46:32] Yeah I like that.

Mike: [00:46:33] All right so we’ve covered a lot here in this episode regarding 2Do, if you were to condense this down. Who would you say that 2Do is for?

Mat: [00:46:50] OK. So basically since you have such a big freedom of what you’re what you’re able to do and you’re not restricted by anything. I would recommend 2Do for people who already have an idea, have a structure and just want the structure to be displayed in 2Do. I think that would be the best use case.

Mike: [00:47:19] OK. Why. Why should people pick this over OmniFocus if they’re on the fence? Maybe they’re using a project manager right now like Asana for example, and they want some additional features because they want to flesh out an actual test management system. What are the things that would– that you would counsel people, if you’re looking for this for example, pick 2Do over OmniFocus.

Mat: [00:47:43] If you’re looking for manual sorting and avoidance of double tasks. And if you’re looking for the same convenience in terms of data entry, data handling, without without the depth then go for 2Do instead of OmniFocus. I don’t have much experience with Asana itself. I only know that it’s rather complicated when it comes to personal task management so I think I think Asana is best for team management. If you would be the person who first of all wants to see his tasks in his calendar this is possible with as we mentioned through the Reminder sync, or if you want to share your lists with a couple of other people maybe through other Reminders based task manager apps, this would be a perfect use case for 2Do. So these two features if you’re looking for those if you don’t want to have an additional calendar with your, your things to do, but one to have say blue for personnel, green for work related tasks, then you can just set that up in 2Do and it will resemble the calendar display. And this is really nice so you have your color coding all set set up in one in in one design that this is this true for your tasks as well as your calendar stuff.

Mike: [00:49:30] Very cool. Well thanks Mat for being on the podcast here today. If people want to connect with you outside of the dojo how can they do that?

Mat: [00:49:42] It’s a bit complicated. I have a I have a Twitter handle. The Twitter handle would be M A T underscore R H E I N 7. So mat_rhein7. But up until now I’m not checking Twitter too often. Maybe that will change now.

Mike: [00:50:05] That’s not a bad thing.

Mat: [00:50:08] Yeah apart from that guys you will always find me in the dojo. So I’m a big big dojo fan from the first moment on I knew that this was an awesome opportunity to have a hive mind of productivity minded people so that’s what I found there. It’s it’s beautiful. Thanks for all the things you are doing there.

Mike: [00:50:35] Absolutely and I love the fact that you are in the dojo you are kind of our ideal dojo member because you provide so much value to other people who are there. So thank you for your contribution to the dojo Mat.

Mat: [00:50:48] Thanks.

Mike: [00:50:48] And just as a public service announcement, if you want to connect with Mat in the dojo you can do that. You can also get access to every– the “everything 2Do” thread and the task manager comparison chart which is part of that thread, which I mentioned a little bit earlier. So the dojo is currently closed to the public but if you go to the productivity show dot com slash dojo you can get access to that private training library. So all of the courses that we’ve developed, the forums, the slack team. So you get access to the Asian Efficiency team and you get all of that for just a dollar for your first month and then after that it’s $29 a month and you can cancel at any time.

Mat: [00:51:29] That’s a steal. It’s an absolute steal.

Mike: [00:51:30] Thanks. On top of the training materials, hopefully Mat you’ve seen this, you also get some exclusive software discounts on some of our favorite productivity apps like BusyCal, Hazel, TextExpander was added recently.

Mat: [00:51:45] Sadly I own all of those.

Mike: [00:51:50] Sanebox. We’re trying to add more of those as we go. But again if you want to check that out you can do that for a dollar for your first month, that URL is theproductivityshow.com/dojo and that’s just for podcast listeners. You can also find links to everything that Mat and I talked about today in the show notes by going to theproductivityshow.com/137. So thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next productive Monday.

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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