A couple of days after Viticci posted his MacStories review of 2Do, I moved everything I had over to the app from OmniFocus. It was a big move for me as I have been a staunch OmniFocus supporter for close to 5 years now. I also wasn’t alone in the move, as a rather large group of nerds I know made the same move.
For some reason, something clicked for all of us. We all were mostly satisfied by OmniFocus, and yet not happy with OmniFocus. Within moments of using 2Do, things felt right — what was once missing was found.
It wasn’t a decision I had to carefully weigh, it was the obvious choice once I tried it. And I think that is what a lot of people found.
I will always love OmniFocus as it has gotten me through periods of busyness that some people may never know. But there was a growing friction between the way my mind has shifted, the way my work has shifted, and the rigidness with which OmniFocus wanted to enforce its rules.
I tried Reminders, or even Begin, to try and clear my head. I even went back to OmniOutliner — which is where OmniFocus was born from — and none of them felt right. Every app I had tried, offered more friction than OmniFocus and so I thought that was the way it was going to be.
2Do, though, meets my mind with little friction. Ultimately this is what lead me to take it seriously and move to it.
As I said in my post about going with Ulysses for everything I can: I want to love my tools.
I wasn’t loving OmniFocus.
The last time I left OmniFocus, I wrote this upon coming back to OmniFocus:
A task management tool should excel, not break, when the going gets busy. What I’ve come to realize is that if your task management system doesn’t seem like overkill when you are not overly busy, then you are going to break it when things get very busy.
I think — despite sounding damn smart — that this statement was close, but not accurate. I think the more accurate statement is put thusly:
What I have come to realize is that if your task management system is being fully utilized when you are not overly busy, then it is going to break when things get really busy.
That is: if you are using every part of the task management system when things are light, then problems will arise when things get busy. It’s not that OmniFocus was overkill for me, it’s that it was too rigid. That rigidity is great when I am suffering decision fatigue from the amount of work I have, but it is a burden when I am not suffering that fatigue.
Further: when you aren’t busy your task management system should be easy. The system should scale, not permanently be operating as if you are the busiest person in the world all the time.
Thus, 2Do. 2Do offers me almost everything I can do in OmniFocus, without the rigidity. So it will never feel like overkill, but also has yet to break even when shit has gotten really insane.
Great Power Lies Within
There is great power in this little app, but it is well hidden below the surface of simplicity. Whereas with OmniFocus, the power sits at the top, and you have to work to make the app simple. I think this is what makes 2Do immediately better — you feel welcomed instead of overwhelmed.
You might spend days crafting perfect perspectives in OmniFocus — to see just the simple amount of information you need — all without ever realizing that is a backwards way to work on the problem. You should always start with that which is simple and only move to the complex — the powerful — when and if you need it.
That is exactly how 2Do works. It has powerful searches you can save as a view, but it doesn’t start you out there. There’s some really simple things it starts with: All, Today, Starred. The basics, and from there you can further organize by lists. There’s smart lists for a few things automatically, but it’s all done in a simple way.
All of this is why I called this section: great power lies within. 2Do, on the surface, looks simple — because it is. But once you scratch at the surface you start to see that it can really be as powerful as you need it to be, but this power only surfaces when you go looking for it. That’s the exact opposite to OmniFocus.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve long had about OmniFocus is that it is simply too hard to get tasks into it quickly. That’s a large reason I helped with Begin — I need something faster.
And 2Do is fucking fast.
There’s a ton of shit under the hood to make the entire app work better, and faster, for you. I’ve always hated having no password protection on my tasks, but also didn’t want all my tasks password protected.
2Do has Lists which can be individually protected by a password. So something like gift ideas for your spouse can be listed right with all your other tasks, but always hidden out of site.
Or how about really reminding me to do that task? With OmniFocus I get one notification, and if I dismiss it — that’s it. With 2Do I get nagged — constantly — until I decide to take an action on that task. From my watch I can ignore the notification (and get another at a specified interval), complete the task, snooze the task, or move it to tomorrow.
Effectively, this means that I can triage unfinished tasks while I cook dinner — all from my Apple Watch. Which is spectacularly nice. I’ve always hated going to OmniFocus in the morning to deal with all the crap I didn’t do last night, but with 2Do I deal with it when it comes up, or face my wrist being constantly tapped. But I never start my mornings out looking at past due tasks.
These nags also help with making sure you really get something done. For the first time I feel 100% confident in trusting my task management app to help me get something done at/by a specific time each day — because it nags me. It’s almost like Due meets OmniFocus.
There’s lists, tags, starring, dates (start and due), actions, locations, URLs, and a plethora of other things that you can attach to a task. A task can even be a list within a larger list if you want.
I can grab webpage URLs and titles and send them to the app without delay. I can then see every task which has an associated URL as a Smart List. There’s unlimited filtering — not unlike OmniFocus’s perspectives — but done in a way that requires little thought to create them.
I can also pause based on tags. So I can decide that everything tagged “Project Q” is paused. I can see there are paused tasks, but I don’t see the tasks. It’s a really nice (and recent) addition to the app.
Not All Roses
The app icon is terrible. The name could use some work. You basically need to sync with Dropbox if you want to use the full feature set. Those are all annoying little things. I wish I could sync with iCloud — for instance — but in practice it doesn’t matter since the sync works just fine.
I also can’t use a review mode, as I do in OmniFocus, which is the biggest bummer. But still I can fake it by looking at the all tasks view.
For every little nitpick I can find about this app (and truly there are not many more than what I listed above) they are all easily dismissed when thinking about moving to any other app.
Every person I talk to who moved to 2Do could not be happier — which is really odd given some of the people who switched. But more than all of that, once I used the app for a couple of days, it became obvious that this is the task management app to use.
And the best part is that I can recommend it to anyone and everyone. Whereas with OmniFocus I would be hesitant trying to get most people using it, with 2Do I feel like you can give it to anyone. They might not get why you like it so much at first, but it will only be a matter of time before it clicks with them. And they likely won’t experience any overwhelming feelings as most people do when they start with OmniFocus.
I strongly recommend you buy 2Do.