LeaderTask – Alternative to Outlook!
I once asked a friend of mine what is the best organizer? He said, “Microsoft Outlook, of course”. Then he thought a bit and added, “The most popular one, anyway.” But popularity is not the key issue for me. And since I have to write down (or keep in mind) a lot in my work, I decided to take it more seriously. I have studied a lot organizers and schedulers. LeaderTask from the Almeza company has turned out to be the most appropriate and convenient one for me. I will not compare it with all organizers, but only with the most popular one – Microsoft Outlook. No doubt Microsoft Outlook is a high-quality software product, but LeaderTask outdoes it in some things. Though Outlook is better in some other things. I will enumerate all these parameters in this article. So…
1. Separate object groups.
There are different types of objects defined in LeaderTask. These include: projects, tasks, notes.
Projects in LeaderTask mean those things that have time limits. Something specific results from a project being completed.
A task in LeaderTask is the description of what should be done in order to complete a project (project steps).
Notes are chaotic records that can be assigned to projects and separate tasks (they may also deal with a contact/category/time, etc.). Notes serve as a convenient tool for taking down separate thoughts that can be useful for completing a project or a task.
A project may contain several tasks. For example, the “Writing an article” project may include the following: “Studying materials”, “Writing a draft”, “Sending it to the editor”, “Correcting the article”. The result of the project is an article. That is, something large is split into smaller parts, which is very convenient to use.
Besides, every project has the following properties: a name, a group (logical, the one the project belongs to), a contact (the list of project participants), a time period (the time the project will be completed within), notes (comments to the project). You can filter tasks by these properties (single out tasks from the list of tasks). I will dwell on filtering a bit later.
Each task can contain subtasks. For example, the “Studying materials” task may include the following subtasks: “Visit the library”, “View information on the website”, “View advertising materials”. Any task has parameters (tags) that can be also used for filtering. These include: “Projects”, “Contacts”, “Categories”, “Calendar”.
Outlook has nothing like this – no different types of objects are defined in it. There are no separate projects, tasks, notes – there are only equal tasks. It means that notes (occasional thoughts) will be in one list, which will make searching for a particular note afterwards more difficult. It is completely unacceptable for a person who values time.
2. Tree-like tasks.
Tasks in LeaderTask are arranged in the form of a tree, which is achieved due to the task hierarchy (splitting tasks into subtasks). It allows you to classify tasks, combine them into one project (or into a task of a higher level). This way you get tasks that are not scatterred, but strictly structured. The tree-like structure allows you to see the heirarchy and understand what tasks belong to what at any time. It reminds the tree of folders and files in the operating system. It is much more convenient to keep tasks this way (since you are quite used to it). Besides, these hierarchies can have as much levels as you need.
The tree-like structure allows you to:
See all tasks at once;
Sort tasks. You can sort tasks by any property (important/unimportant, personal/business, etc.);
Group tasks. You can group tasks by criteria (either by one or by several criteria at once). Criteria include: project, time, category, contact;
Use the “Periodic Task” option allowing you to complete tasks that may occur at certain intervals;
Customize the settings. It is possible to customize the task tree the way that suits you best;
Hide completed tasks. You can show (or hide) completed tasks at any time. Which is also very convenient and allows you not to pay attention to tasks that are already completed.
Tasks are not arranged as a tree in Outlook. It has one level only. All tasks are arranged in one list, there is no embedment, which makes it sometimes difficult to make out what a particular tasks belongs to. It is as if all files on the computer were located in one huge folder. It is very inconvenient.
3. Flexible interface customization.
It is possible to flexibly customize interface in LeaderTask (as in many modern programs). Any user can customize tasks to be displayed in the way he finds convenient. The following items can be used to achieve it.
Floating panels. All panels in LeaderTask are floating – they can be dragged to any part of the main window. The user can set the panel size, set its position and type, specify how many panels should be displayed at a time. Besides, every panel has thee buttons in the right corner of its title bar. They allow you to maximize the panel (inside the main window of the program), activate popup mode for the panel (the panel will slide out when you move the mouse pointer over it), close the panel.
Highlighting. Every user can highlight task tabs in a particular color in order to see better in the task tree. Highligting is a perfect tool for marking the most important tasks, urgent tasks or tasks you must not postpone or forget about. An important task that is not highlighted may get lost among other tasks. LeaderTask allows you to avoid it. It seems as if nothing special, but highlighting in different colors is a very useful tool for planning your tasks right.
Skins. LeaderTask supports all kinds of skins, among which any user will be able to choose the one that suits him best.
Fonts. LeaderTask supports all kinds of fonts. You can use it to highlight various tasks in the list as well.
It is possible to partially customize the interface in Outlook (but it is no so easy to do it). In particular, panels are static in Outlook (they are not floating) and it is also impossible to highlight particular tasks in different colors in Outlook.
4. Structuring tasks.
That’s where LeaderTask is completely incomparable – it offers extremely wide features for structuring tasks. First of all, it is structuring tasks by projects and subtasks (what I mentioned above). Besides, it is possible to structure tasks by categories, by deadlines, by priority, by contacts.
The most important thing in LeasderTask is structuring tasks by priority. Priorities are arranged into a library of priorities that you can cusotmize so that it meets your needs. Tasks structured by priorities allow you to single out the most important tasks among all other tasks and complete them first.
Tasks are not structured in Outlook. All tasks are displayed in one list where it is reall difficult to make anything out.
5. Clear view.
One of the main advantages in LeaderTask is a clear view of tasks (particularly on the “Today” panel). Along with the task tree and highlighting, it is achieved by the following:
Tabs. Multiple tasks are grouped with the help of tabs in the “Tasks” panel. Any items in the “Navigator” panels can be used as these tabs. Most often, they are projects. Using tabs is very convenient. For example, there are two projects: “Writing an article” and “Design development”. And these projects include a lot of tasks. Not to view tasks from both projects at once, you should click the corresponding project tab and the “Tasks” panel will show tasks of one project only (for example, those from “Writing an article”).
Filters. It allows you to view records by certain selected parameters. Parameters (criteria) are set when you create records: task start time, responsible person, physical locations where the task is completed and others. It means that filtering allows you to select records (from different projects) among all created records by certain criteria. This feature seemed the most actual one to me since it offers wide opportunities in selecting what is needed at the moment accoding to some event from the entire list.
There is no clear view in Outlook. And even more – viewing tasks is made as difficult as possible. As I mentioned before, all tasks and notes are displayed in one list. There are no trees, no highlighting, no tabs and only simple filtering (you cannot create custom filters).
6. Differentiated tasks.
LeaderTask allows you to plan your activity assigning tasks to a certain context. Context means circumstances that suit best for completing a task (for example, “in office”, “at home”, “at a conema” and others). Also, it is possible to single out tasks by parameters and attributes set for them. For example, by projects, by contacts, by priority, by urgency and by others. In other words, LeaderTask considers the same tasks with different attributes as different tasks (which they are).
Tasks are not differentiated in Outlook. All tasks are equal. That’s probably the reason why it does not have such useful features as trees, filtering and others…
Microsoft Outlook advantages.
1. Data synchronization.
Microsoft Outlook (to be exact, a lot of add-ins both from Microsoft and from third parties) allows you to synchronize your data on the computer with data on other devices, such as cell phones, pocket PCs, etc.
There is no such data synchronization in LeaderTask. It should be mentioned that LeaderTask is not assigned to any system during its installation – you can store it, for example, on a flash drive and use it on different computers. It is a bit of excuse.
2. Data import and export.
Microsoft Outlook has automatic data impot and export. You can import quite a lot of items: address books, e-mail messages, account settings, etc. You can also export this data into various formats that are most convenient for importing by other programs. Besides, there are special add-ins enhancing the data import and export features.
I could not find data import and export in LeaderTask.
These are the main advantages and disadvantages of LeaderTask. Since I plan my time only using the computer and only in LeaderTask, I do not have to import, export and synchronize data. But, of course, it is no excuse for its drawbacks. Probably, they will be fixed soon. And if they do it, LeaderTask will become the best organizer ever. And there is no doubt that they will do it taking into account how thoughful software developers from Almeza are about their software making it comfortable, appealing and functional. Most probably, data import, export and synchronization are only a question of time.
All that may be even implemented already in the current version of the program – it all depends on when you are reading this article…
LeaderTask is a perfect choice for everyone who is looking for an alternative to Outlook!