Sunday, September 12, 2010

Software Saturday - Remember The Milk

This week's selection is one of the pillars in my personal time management system.  Remember The Milk is a task management service that initially began its life as a web-based solution in August 2004.  I became aware of it sometime early in 2008 thanks to posts on Lifehacker, but at the time I was content with keeping my to do list on a Google Spreadsheet.

During the summer of 2009 I began to explore alternatives for a task management system, as I felt I'd outgrown the spreadsheet method.  One of the requirements of my new system would be an iPhone compatible version so I could enter & be reminded of tasks on the go.  I experimented with OmniFocus & Things, but never got comfortable working in each of their OS X applications in tandem with their iOS portable apps.

What really sold me on Remember The Milk was its inclusion of Push Notifications on the iPhone and very tight integration with Gmail & Google Calendar on the web.  While I like to have access to my to do list on my iPhone, I tend to think of most of the tasks I want to put on the list while in front of my computer.  More precisely, I'm almost always staring at Google Calendar or Gmail when I think of that task that needs to be added to my list, since it's often driven by an upcoming event or an e-mail I receive.

In both Gmail & Google Calendar, you can add a Remember The Milk widget that will live in your sidebar.  Since I use Google Chrome as my primary browser on both my MacBook & PC desktop, I've also started utilizing ChromeMilk, a Remember The Milk extension for Chrome that gives you access to your do list right from the browser.

The iPhone app is great because you can set Push Notification reminders to alert you to take action on your task exactly when you need to be reminded.  This is an easy way to remind my future self to go to the grocery store as I'm walking out of the office, or to bring those clothes to the dry cleaner just before I leave the house in the morning.  While I might not be in front of my computer to be reminded of those tasks, my iPhone is always on me, so it takes care of reminding me of these various tasks while I'm in motion.  That's why I like it so much.

Until recently, the Remember The Milk iPhone app required a Pro Membership to the service which costs $25 a year.  Now you can use the iPhone app for free if you don't mind a reduced number of syncs you can do in a single day & a lack of Push Notifications.  I happily paid for the Pro membership, though, and find I'm getting my money's worth.  In fact, I like the service so much that I gave my brother a gift subscription to Remember The Milk as one of his Christmas presents last year.

You can sign up for an account & find links to the iOS apps at the link below.

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