How do you manage your queue of tasks?

A question for my busy developer colleagues: what do you use to manage your queue of tasks? I want a better unifying tool. Requirements & wishes are:

  1. Unifies all my pending tasks into one issue/ticket/card/whatever queue.
  2. Very fast & streamlined to create and manage items.
  3. Sortable/filterable by priority and due date (if applicable).
  4. Publicly accessible, but with ability to make details private on an item-by-item basis.
  5. Good integration with GitHub across multiple organizations, in accordance with DRY principles.

Any recommendations? My current front-runners are zube.io and Trello, although neither fully meets the requirements above. Edit: I am playing with waffle.io now. Comments and suggestions from others are still most welcome.

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Bump. I’m always interested in how others do things, and since waffle.io is closing on May 16th…

I’m surprised actually, despite the views, that there were not more (or any) responses.

I don’t yet have any alternatives to offer than those in the original post (and GitHub Project Boards) -
I’m not keen on just posting alternatives here unless I’ve used them with success.

+1 for Kanban.

I look forward to any suggestions, Thanks!

Edit: Slightly contradicting what I just said, but ZenHub looks promising… Will have to give it a go.

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@camlloyd Yeah, I wish there were a better answer. I feel completely buried in thousands of small (and big) things to do all the time. It would be nice if at least felt well-organized and overwhelmed. Right now I spend too much time context switching, and shuffling notes between heterogeneous systems.

A thing that I am planning to look at soon is Octobox, which is sort of like Gmail for GitHub Issues. I don’t know if I can shoehorn everything I need to do into GitHub Issues, but it certainly is the closest candidate for unification if I’m going to be shoehorning things.

I agree that ZenHub looks promising. If you try it, please report back here! Thanks! Edit: I tried ZenHub. It has a limit of five repositories per workspace, making it unhelpful for me. I need a tool that can link hundreds of repositories into a single workspace.

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At the moment, I find tranquility in a single task list using…well, “Tasks” by Google. From the Gmail app, you can drag an email onto the task sidebar and a new task is generated (a lot of new tasks come from emails…) with a link to the email. You can add due dates or manually sort (I use the due date, so it forces me to put a date (and time!) ). Any link you paste in the description is translated into a real link, so it’s a good place to put Google Docs links, Github repos, issues etc… You can do subtasks too.

I used to use Trello, and it has an integration with Gmail, or the cool mail-to-card feature, but I like the simplicity of the Tasks sidebar. I have tried Asana, and other, but really the Tasks is really alluringly simple and effective. It has an Android app, which is also good.

You can’t share Tasks, though, so it’s not a collaboration tool. Trello is my tool for collaborative work. Github has a feature that shows issues as cards on a board, too…

Anyway, happy to know if you find the silver bullet!! :smiley:
Thomas

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@Thomas_Pengo Thanks a lot for taking the time to write up your thoughts! I took a serious look at Google Tasks today. Compelling pluses for me include: 1) the Gmail and Calendar integration; 2) good keyboard shortcuts, necessary for efficient operation of the tool; 3) fast email-to-task conversion; 4) optional due dates, with easy sorting by due date.

Unfortunately, the new interface rolled out a couple of months ago removed the full-screen “canvas” capability, leaving only the small sidebar as primary access mechanism. I find it crucial to be able to browse lots of information at once (e.g., I always set apps like Gmail to “Compact” vs. “Comfortable”), so having only a small sidebar is painful for me. There is a third-party desktop application, GTask for Desktop, but it didn’t look very polished to me—do you use it?

There is also no support for task prioritization. To achieve something similar, one could: A) use artificial due dates—but I worry I’d be stuck shuffling them around en masse a lot; or B) manually drag-and-drop tasks as priorities change—but that becomes increasingly challenging as the number of tasks grows into the hundreds or thousands.

Right now I am migrating all my task lists to Todoist. I’m going to give it a serious try for the next couple of months. Will report back here with my experiences later.

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Thank you for bringing it up!!

Thanks for the pointer! I see your point. I liked that about Trello for example: I could move things around, color them for importance, add attachments (Google Drive “power-up”)… But in the end, it’s another window, another distraction. I spend a lot of time reacting to my inbox (yes, I also tried Pomodoro and occasionally close it…) and having the calendar integration and task integration helps keeping my ‘organizer’ in a single window. I can create new appointments, add tasks, or see what I need to do next right there. I use the old ‘important and unread’ GMail window org, which sometimes misses something important, so I both periodically revisit my email and I look through undated tasks, to see if something fell behind.

Yes, that’s how I make sure something actually gets done!

Curious to hear about it!! Good luck!


At some point along the way, this comes to mind when I find myself look for new and more efficient ways to get things done… :smiley:

image

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2+ months later, I’m pretty happy with Todoist. I definitely feel less “in the dark” regarding what’s on my plate. The plate is still ten miles high, and I don’t think Todoist makes me radically more efficient at accomplishing tasks, but there are major advantages:

  • I feel more reliable: when I need to follow up on something later, Todoist is there to remind me when the time comes.
  • No longer juggling many ad hoc to-do lists in text files, Google Keep, Google Docs, and abuse of Gmail labels. If a GitHub Issue is important/urgent enough to warrant a task in Todoist, I can tolerate the duplication. But mostly, I just rely on recurring “review pending PRs” and “review pending issues” tasks to encourage me to check GitHub issues semi-regularly.
  • Speaking of recurring tasks: Todoist is nice there. You can have a recurring thing e.g. every Thursday… or “one week since I last checked it off”—the latter of which I find more useful in most cases.
  • Tasks are organized by project hierarchy, and projects can be archived, as well as unarchived. I intend to start using the archive/unarchive feature more in the future to help focus down on specific subsystems and components on a month-by-month basis, as described in this article.
  • Crucially: the UI is mostly super great. On a proper computer, everything can be done via keyboard. Global hotkey opens the “add task” text field, so new tasks can be added during that moment before they fade from your brain, without making people around you wait more than a couple of seconds to get it down. And on mobile devices, tasks can still be inputted in a reasonably efficient way.

The main thing I don’t like about Todoist is dealing with overdue tasks. I am always overly ambitious with due dates and what I can achieve in a given time-frame, so my tasks tend to build up as days go by, slipping into “overdue” status. Todoist offers a couple of tools for dealing with reprioritizing overdue things: 1) mask everything due today again; or 2) run the “smart rescheduler” that tries to redistribute tasks over the coming days in a way that doesn’t load any particular day too heavily. The problem with (1) is: it doesn’t address the oversaturation, and the problem with (2) is that it doesn’t know how involved each tasks are relative to each other, so can’t really do an intelligent distribution. I don’t have a good strategy for dealing with this problem yet, other than to manually throw each task into the future myself. I think what I’ll try next is to stop relying on due dates as a faux-prioritization mechanism, and only use them when things are really due on a particular day—which will entail ensuring everything has an assigned priority (p1, p2, p3 or p4), with consistent meaning.

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