Regarding Tasks

A Reverse Calendar, But Like Trello for Today’s Tasks

Recorded on May 12th, 2016

This app doesn’t exist yet, at least that I know of. Here’s what I’m looking for:

I frequently make way-too-ambitious task lists for when I get home from work. Like a child who has never done this before, I’ll habitually list out in TaskPaper an array of tasks like this to be done in one night:

- get home
- go for a walk
- eat dinner
- wash dishes
- pay bills
- clean off dining room table
- wash white clothes
- write blog post
- email Dave back
- scoop cat boxes
- write in journal
- start that Joan Didion book
- get in bed by 10:30

What in the holy hell.

The above list is not much of an exaggeration. It’s as if I’m finally going to right all the household wrongs I’ve inflicted and then churn out some creative stuff with all that spare time and energy left over. No. What really happens is:

- get home
- lie down
- eat dinner
- wash five dishes
- watch Scrubs
- fall asleep on couch with cat on my lap
- write blog post while falling asleep
- scoop cat boxes
- go to sleep at midnight

Why does the first scenario happen? Because I’m being dishonest about the time required to do each task. They’re all just bullets of the same size in TaskPaper. I can fit all the virtual rows I want in there. But if you think about time being limited like shelf space, you know you can’t fit an infinite number of books on the shelf (see Peter Walsh’s It’s All Too Much). You also can’t fit an infinite (or unrealistic) number of tasks in the evening hours and still get to bed on time.

Isn’t there an app that would keep scenario 1 from even being committed to paper (or screen)? It would help if it looked like Trello, with cards, but if the height of the cards were based on how long each expected task would take to do. Like a calendar, but you’re not entering start and stop times — just tasks and their durations. On the side of the column/day, there would be a list of hours like on a calendar. You’d slide tasks around and quickly see when you were stacking too many to achieve in one night. You wouldn’t be disappointed at the end of the night, because you’d know up front what your capacity was and you’d stop adding stuff when you ran out of vertical space on the calendar.

The other benefit to an app like this would be that once you see the estimated, resulting clock times for the starts and stops for each task, you’d be more motivated to finish each task within its allotted time slot. If you were going over, you’d want to correct that before everything snowballed.

If this exists, I’d love to know about it. If not, it’s an idea for an app. If only I knew more about Swift, etc.