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Peter Akkies

Is this the type of to-do app you need?

Published about 1 month ago • 3 min read

I like to keep myself sharp.

Just because I’ve done something a certain way for a long time, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing it.

Since as early as 2011, but consistently since 2016, I’ve been using heavy-duty task managers like OmniFocus and Things 3. These apps are designed for tracking your to-dos and projects in great detail.

To use these tools as they were designed means planning projects down to the smallest sub-step and writing down everything you need to do, from big (sending a job application) to small (scheduling lunch with a friend).

I feel comfortable tracking what I need to do in detail. It helps me remember what is important to me.

For example, in a few weeks, a friend of mine will be “clean” (off drugs) for two years. That’s worth celebrating, so in my task manager I wrote down a task to congratulate her on that day. It’s a small thing—probably not the sort of thing that most people would write down on a to-do list. But it matters to me to remember that date.

If I pulled an average person off the street, though, they’d probably find the way I track my to-dos and projects really intense. It isn’t really—not once you get the hang of it. When you do, tracking your tasks and projects in detail is wonderfully relaxing because you can trust your system and free your mind to just do and just be.

Still, such apps can feel intense to people who are new to them. And many people prefer a more lightweight approach to remembering what they need to do.

Because of that and because (as I mentioned) I like to challenge myself sometimes, I decided to try a very different to-do app that caught my eye recently.

So, I present to you the latest to-do app I’ve been test-driving, Tweek:

Tweek is a fantastically minimalist task management app. It aims to a digital version of a traditional paper planner and does a damn good job of it.

The first thing you’ll notice when you try Tweek—for which you don’t need an account, by the way; just head over to their website—is that its design is gorgeous. Especially if you gravitate towards minimalism (which I don’t even, necessarily), I bet you’ll really like it.

As you can see, Tweek lays out your week really simply. There’s space for each day, with the weekend days compressed. There’s a Someday list and two other lists you can customize. Tweek will show your calendar events (as long as they’re on Google Calendar) as well as your to-dos, which live natively in Tweek.

There’s a few nuances, such as support for repeating to-dos, subtasks, and notes. But that’s about it.

I’ve been test-driving Tweek for a week now and it’s fun to use. It requires a whole different approach to planning my days. You can’t take a minimalist app like Tweek and use it the same way you’d use an OmniFocus or Things or Todoist or Apple Reminders.

Here are a few observations on Tweek so far:

  • The minimalist approach forces me to identify the most high-value tasks for each day.
  • I love having my to-dos and calendar events in one place and I really like dragging them in the order I plan to go through them.
  • I need to be judicious about what I add to Tweek. I can’t add every single thing that I want to do; Tweek’s lists would be too long and the interface isn’t designed for that.
  • When adding a task, you immediately have to choose a date to do it or you have to add it to Someday. There is no inbox. It’s uncomfortable for me, coming from apps that all have an inbox, but it’s probably a good design decision for the minimalist approach.
  • I get a lot of happiness out of an app with a gorgeous design.

Now, am I about to switch my entire task management system to the shiny, new, minimalist object that is Tweek? No. And should you? Probably not. But it’s fun to try a new approach once in a while. That could be Tweek or it could be a different app.

Don’t go overboard. Don’t switch apps every week. That way, you’ll lose sight of what really matters, which is enjoying yourself while getting stuff done.

But when you occasionally try a new approach, you just might discover something that works better for you: a different approach that helps you get more important stuff done with less stress.

Worst case, trying something else helps you appreciate the system and tools you’ve been using so far.

That happened to me yesterday when I realized that, in Tweek, I didn’t write down that I needed to buy some more olive oil, because that type of task is too small to capture; it would clutter up the interface. So, of course, I forgot to buy olive oil and cooking was harder than it needed to be last night.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day.

Peter Akkies

Productivity Teacher

Hi, I’m Peter from Amsterdam. I’ll help you get organized and be more productive. Every Sunday, I send a productivity-themed newsletter to 9,000 people. Join us!

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