Checklist Puts Your To-Do List on Steroids

To-do lists have been a staple for software writers since the invention of the personal computer. Maybe that’s because we all have things to do and never tire of finding better and faster ways to get them done.

For many of us, a simple pad and paper, or the rudimentary to-do list in a personal digital assistant, will meet our needs, but when our requirements are more complicated, turning to a more sophisticated vehicle like Checklist 3.0 may be in order.

Task Solutions makes the US$39.95 program, which can be test driven for free. The program is primarily suited for managing to-do lists. However, it really shines at juggling multiple-task projects.

Column Approach

Checklist’s interface is carved up into columns. Tasks are listed in the first column. The remaining columns track the progress of a task.

For example, these columns identify the status of a task, estimated time for completion, actual time for completion, start and due dates, and the person assigned to complete the task.

You fill in the information that will appear in the columns by double clicking a task. When you do that, a form appears with fields that will appear as column headers.

There’s also a tabbed section spanning the bottom of the interface. It provides another way to view the information in the columns.

For instance, when you select a task and click the task tab, information about the task is displayed, such as name, category, priority, creation date and current status.

Nested Tree

Items in the tasks column are displayed in a nested tree structure. This allows you to break down projects into their component parts.

For example, let’s say you want to build a dog house.

The parent item would be “dog house.” One child under the parent might be “materials.” Listed under that child would be the materials for building the house.

Another child might be “tools.” Under that child would be a list of tools needed to build the structure.

You might also want to divide the steps for assembling the house into more “children” and assign them to members of your actual household.

Prioritizing Tasks

All items in the task column can be tagged with a priority. Colored “bullets” are used to identify the priority of an item. Red is high priority; yellow, medium priority; and green, low priority.

Items can also be placed into categories for better organization. You may want to place work tasks in one category, for instance, and personal tasks in another.

Beside each item in a task list is a check box, so you can still get that tiny thrill of checking off an item after it’s done.

Above the task columns are pull-down menus that allow you to filter your tasks. You can limit what’s displayed to a category of tasks, a time frame, completed or uncompleted tasks, or persons to whom tasks have been assigned.

Serve and Assign

For an additional $49.95, you can get Checklist Server Edition. It lets a group of people share and modify checklists over a network.

With the server edition installed on a network, you can publish a Checklist file to a net by simply clicking on the “publish” button on the program’s toolbar.

When you publish a file, a copy is placed on the network. That means you always have control of the master file locally.

You can also add tasks to the Checklist files of colleagues on a server, and they can do the same to your files.

The folks at Task Solutions acknowledge that there are plenty of software programs out there to handle mega-projects with Gantt charts and critical path diagrams, but they say their application is designed for managing projects on a personal level — to compile a list of phone calls to be made, a list of program bugs to be addressed or a list of edits needed for a manuscript.

Checklist can certainly handle those kinds of tasks, but it can also do much more.

John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].

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