managing this project called life

I have searched high and low, spent hours on the internet reading reviews, downloaded, tested and deleted said downloads, but I haven’t found the perfect app to help me manage my life. Yes, I’m looking for a good project manager.

I used to have one. Her name was Kitty. But now that Kitty is managing other people’s lives… I am stuck with searching for a program to take her place. I’m not too demanding, I swear! All I need in the app is:

#1: A calendar that shows my current project timelines – all colour-coded by me, by choice. And within these projects, I need sub-folders with their own set of tasks & deadlines.

#2: It needs to be accessible by other people, and have the ability to remind us with alarms. Which leads to the third point…

#3: It must have a mobile version that can be synced with our iPhones. At this juncture, you’re probably thinking that there are so many apps out there that can do that. But hold on…

#4: It needs to have a beautifully designed interface. Why? Simple. If I have to look at graphs and boring charts, I won’t be motivated to actually use the program. Shallow maybe. But hey, at least I know how to inspire myself to work.

#5: As we are going to start using Clarizen in our department sometime in the near future, I didn’t want to pay exorbitant amounts of money for something that really, we were going to get free (although the interface is just absolutely boring). That basically limited my search to… oh… beta versions and free trials.

But I still needed to reign in my chaotic life. So with great determination, I started searching about a month ago for the app of my dreams, but sadly, haven’t yet found any that has hooked me in, making me want to use it.

My current solution?

iCal – it syncs beautifully with my mobile, is colour-coded and happily reminds me via alarms about my upcoming meetings. You have no idea how many times these alarms saved my ass. And it comes free with my Mac.

Klok – the only app I’ve used so far that makes me want to use it. It’s gorgeous. Seriously so. But it doesn’t have an iPhone version, only one for the Android. Bah! I’m using the free version that is limited to one user.

Awesome note – gorgeous for taking notes, setting to-do lists with alarms, archives tasks that I’ve already done and syncs with Evernote (that in turn syncs with both my laptop/mobile). But it can’t be shared with my team-mates.


Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.

– Jimmy Buffett

I have to admit, I did enjoy the search. I particularly enjoyed finding out about what works (or doesn’t), why that is so and how things can be improved. And while my personal life has come together with alarms going off every hour or so, my magpie-collection of apps still didn’t solve the issue of syncing our deadlines, updates and tasks as a team.

So putting all our brilliant minds together, we chose to do the next best thing we could do.

We went analog.

Paper + huge shared calendar + happy creatives who fill it in with marker pens, fonts of their choice, colours to suit our mood… don’t laugh but it actually works. And the lesson learnt?

There is no ultimate project manager application that can ever replace the human. And for that, I guess I can be thankful. We’ve still got our jobs.


Is something important because you measure it, or is it measured because it’s important?

Seth Godin

While hunting for the perfect app, I wondered about the importance of these additions to my personal life. I had, up till now, gotten by with my faithful organizer (and no, it’s not powered by a battery) for the past 15 years, and I’m still the sort that needs to edit things on paper. In fact, I like all things organic.

So why was I so hung up on searching for the perfect app? Was it a need to solve what was an intrinsically deeper problem – that I felt as if life was getting out of control and I needed some semblance of order?

Because finding the eye in the midst of my hurricane-life didn’t come with the installation of apps, wonderful as they are. No. Peace was found when I gave up wanting to be the person with the perfectly arranged life.

The quiet settled within when I, settled down with my flaws and decided I had nothing to prove.

And the apps? Well, they were just nice, pretty (and useful) things to have.