If you're looking for a task management app that combines your calendar and tasks and makes decisions for you on what to do, read on!

I haven’t geeked out on an app or some kind of service like this for a really long time. I’ve done a few steps in the past on productivity and time management and personal project apps and services, stuff like that.

I’m a big proponent of purposely managing your time I think it’s all about purposeful planning. If you want to be successful in what you do, you have to be somewhat organized, have goals, and have a plan for what you’re going to do.

For the longest time I was looking for, I think I even tweeted about this a few months ago, where I was thinking we have different systems to manage tasks, appointments, and priorities.

We have had our calendar forever, some people just put stuff on the calendar whenever they want it, but if you subscribe to the David Allen’s Getting Things Done (amazon.com) methodology, he says the calendar should be treated as sacred. So, a calendar would have your specific due dates, project deliverables, client deliverables, other expectations that people are having of you. It’s not for “I want to do this thing, by this day”.

Some people put those kinds of tasks on their calendar and what happens is, it’s mixed with all these other due dates and things, and they sometimes miss their due dates because they don’t take priority on things.

The calendar has nothing to do with priority.

I tried this approach, where you plan out your week, you try to put all the little blocks on your calendar, and then by the time the day goes by you realize you forgot something. Then you have to take the tasks that you didn’t do the previous day, move them onto your day and then before you know it, Friday looks like you have 50 hours of tasks ready then it just gets overwhelming and you quit.

There’s also the personal project task management systems that are really good. There are all kinds of them out there – Asana, Toodledo, OmniFocus, etc. Those allow you to get those tasks out of your calendar. Most sync with your calendar to let you know what you have to do on a certain day, but they’re not integrated with it. Even though you set priorities, you have to set filters up and have to set rules.

SkedPal: The App I Discovered that Works!

I happen to come across this app called Skedpal, and this is by no means sponsored by Skedpal. There’s occasionally an app or a service that I love so much that it solves my problems so well, that I want to tell other people about it and this is the service like this.

Skedpal is an iOS app and I have it on my Mac. I believe it has a Windows app too. It’s kind of like all those other task management systems where you can add tasks, create projects, assign tasks to projects It’ll also sync with your calendar so it knows when your appointments are and you can also set due dates, tags, and things that you’re used to. What makes Skedpal unique is a feature that I’ve been looking for forever, it’s intelligent. It’s smarter than all these other apps.

How it Works

Let me give you an example, let’s say that you have a project to go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned. You first have to call the dentist and make an appointment, that’s a task. Then you have to go to the appointment at a specific time, and then maybe a bill or something you have to pay for whatever it is. Those tasks are in sequential order, you can’t do one without the other. Most of these task management systems have you put all those up and they’re all visible at the same time, in a specific context. One of the great things about Skedpal is it gives you a focus list, it tells you exactly what to do on a specific day.

In that instance for example, if I had a project called - Get my teeth cleaned - and the first task was - Call the dentist - and I have other tasks below that, they will not be visible if I marked it as sequential. In Skedpal you can mark a project as sequential, which means each task depends on the other. If I have one task that’s not done yet, it won’t even show me the other tasks, they’re completely hidden from my view.

I have a view called today, in the next seven days, and a focus list views in Skedpal where the first one shows up on my today list. All those others will never show up until the first one is done because it knows there’s a dependency there. Skedpal is intelligent, it not only does that, it allows you to set the time that you plan for. So, you guesstimate the time each task or project is going to take you. You can set due dates, you can also set the planned date and estimated time, that makes Skedpal different from any other service that I’ve ever seen.

A lot of other services would allow you to estimate the time that you’re going to put and attach it to a task but they don’t have a planned date. They have a due date but they don’t have a planned date. There’s a subtle difference. In Skedpal, if that task is going to take you ten minutes, you put ten minutes in the task and then you say, “I want to do this task next week” you don’t even have to put a date. You just put that there and then Skedpal figures out where that needs to go in your schedule depending on all the other priorities, all the other tasks you assigned.

You assign each of your tasks an estimated time, and then you tell Skedpal to reorganize all of your tasks and things based on that. It knows how much time you have because you have to set up these features called time maps which is really cool. For example, you have different time maps of your total working hours, all the hours that you want to be able to be scheduled for tasks. If you only want to set aside 40 hours in your week, maybe 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, you could call that your “Working Hours’ Time Map”.

Then let’s say you’re going to do some creative work, like writing or some really mentally challenging work, you could say – Writing time - and put that on specific days that you want to be able to manage that. Same thing for maybe administrative tasks, like checking email, or replying to email or doing stuff like that. It needs to be done but it’s not very mentally challenging. Maybe you could put that on afternoon hours when you’re not quite as chipper.

You can also set these tasks to these time maps Let’s say you have a writing project, you set all of the tasks in the writing project to your writing time, and you set your writing time to morning hours Monday through Friday from 8 to 10. You don’t have to worry about when it’s going to schedule, Skedpal does all the scheduling for you and it just automatically reorganizes everything. That’s the beauty of it. It knows much time you have because of all these times maps.

It intelligently organizes all these tasks for you. You can set priority, the time when you want to do it, the dues date, when you plan to do it, all these things are intelligently organized on your calendar so it syncs with your calendar. But, let’s say you have a task, you already have your 40 hours allocated for the week, and you put a task in for an hour and say, “I want to do it this week’. Skedpal lets you do it, but as soon as you hit update schedule, to where it will organize, there’s a little hot list menu that will tell you “looks like you overcommitted yourself, we need to change something”. It tells you that you’ve over-committed yourself, which is awesome.

Downsides to the App

This app has got a few little minor things that are wrong with it, but the support is awesome with it and by far and away, for the most part, it works great. It’s my favorite app, I’ve been messing with productivity apps and time management apps probably 15 years. I’ve been looking for things all the time and this is the only app that I’ve seen that is much more intelligent than many other ones because you essentially create a task, tell Skedpal how much time that you think that task is going to take, set the priority on it, you can optionally set a due date, a time that you plan to start it, and Skedpal will try to fit it into your calendar before the due date.

You just tag all these options to each task and then tell Skedpal to figure it out. Now all I do whenever I need to input something, I just put it in Skedpal, assign a due date, when I want to do it by, optionally only if I want to or not, maybe the time map of when I want to do it in the mornings or afternoons, and then just hit update schedule and Skedpal figures out what I need to do. It’s something that I wanted to do forever.

Now every day I just click on today, go down through the list, and I know when I've finished all those tasks. It’s a great app, I can’t say anything better about it. If you’re struggling with getting things done, over-committing yourself, I highly recommend Skedpal.com. Thanks!

This post was brought to you by yet another #CarTalks YouTube video. Be sure to check out all of the other #CarTalks videos and other video content on the Adam the Automator YouTube channel!