Firetask 3, a GTD manager (review)

Firetask is a task management program built around the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. It’s easy to use and simple, and has a gorgeous interface. It’s a great tool to keep open all the time. Firetask 3.0 leaves me hungry for more integration, though.

Firetask has a clean interface, with the main window holding the tasks and the two sidebars the icons for navigating, and the categories and projects. The icons include an In-Tray, Focus elements (Today, Scratchboard, Projects and Categories), and icons that access a great looking Calendar and some “Smart group” icons that give direct access to completed and cancelled projects/categories.

Screenshot of the Firetask calendar.

One of the axioms of GTD is that your task manager should be pleasing to work with. Firetask surely is. It’s also user-friendly. Tasks can be entered in seconds. You enter a subject line and assign them to a project. Tasks can be converted to checklists (!), due date and notes are optional, tasks can be entered as “waiting for” (another person) and can be assigned to someone else as well.

Assigning tasks to a project is compulsory, but a “Miscellaneous” project exists at installation, and does double-duty as a collector for anything that you cannot clearly assign to a project after all.

Tasks can be converted to projects too. Re-assigning tasks to other projects is possible too: just drag-and-drop.

Screenshot of Firetask projects

Screenshot of Firetask projects

Categories are what in GTD terms is called “context”. They are designated by icons. There are 31 icons to choose from, with 13 categories already filled when installing.

Clicking the Categories icon in the sidebar lets you access tasks grouped by category regardless of project. This allows you to easily see a list of tasks across projects. Users of Firetask’s companion iOS products (which I couldn’t test) can sync with their Macs.

Screenshot of Firetask's Quick Entry dialogue.

Firetask contains a Today task group where the most urgent tasks appear and a Scratchboard for tasks that are still in the idea phase. The In-Tray lists all tasks with the same status. It’s also the default collection for items created through Firetask’s quick entry floating window.

In the Notifications area, I found Firetask to be lacking. You can send an email message with a direct link to a task. The receiver can click the link to add the task to his/her copy of the program, but the category and project will be lacking. If the subject line is somewhat cryptic — e.g. “First draft” — the receiving end will wonder which first draft I’m talking about.

Due times can be set, but when the time — shown with a cute clock icon — expires nothing happens, except perhaps the Firetask icon in the Dock gaining a red number badge. No integration with Notification Center on Mountain Lion, nor a sync capability with iCal.

Screenshot of Firetask's organize window

Synchronisation is possible, meaning you can sync with Firetask copies across the Mac and mobile devices.

Except for these couple of capabilities that left me hungry, I find Firetask a relief when comparing it to Think (too little and less well implemented) and Omnifocus even (too much project management and therefore too complicated).

If you’re in the market for a task manager, then do give Firetask a good look.