ActionComplete: A Task Management Toolkit

I used to have a Garfield poster in my room, where the lasagna-loving fuzzball defiantly declares, “My room.  My mess.  My business.”  In his brazen declaration of independence, I felt an element of rebellious kinship in the act of embracing chaos and clutter.  It wasn’t until I turned eleven that I realized that perhaps Garfield wasn’t a healthy moral compass by which I should live my life.

Messes stink.  Clutter is awful.  Chaos is stressful.  There’s nothing noble about being constantly overwhelmed. This is even more acute in the business world, where, unlike some unfolded laundry, a misplaced contact can affect the bottom line.  This is why we spend thousands on “efficiency experts,” task management tools, and alcohol at happy hours.

Into this fold steps ActionComplete, a task management application inspired by David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology.  GTD, in David Allen’s words, is a “work-life management system that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.  GTD has well earned its recognition as the gold standard in personal management and productivity for many of the world’s best and brightest people and companies.”  So let’s take a closer look at the site and see how ActionComplete brings this methodology to life (or, technically, to your Android or PC.)

ActionComplete Home

The home page immediately grabs your attention by dialing up a screenshot of the dashboard (“task universe”) which call outs underscoring specific action items.  The home page, in fact, reads like a blog/news feed, and a quick scroll through shows recent developments.  There are two main pages: AC for Web and AC for Android (screen shot below.)  The former highlights related functionality and provides supporting videos, while the latter provides solely videos.   The videos effectively show how the application can help users organize tasks using the GTD framework, all in a simple, intuitive manner.

ActionComplete also has a strong support network.  In addition to their Web-based user manuals for PC and Android, users can check out the Google ActionComplete group. Their AC Feature and Enhancement Requests forum is also a great place for users to provide feedback and map the future product direction.

A few suggestions:

  • Since the GTD methodology is the backbone of these tools, I’d try to accentuate it more on the site. Particularly, I’d flesh it out on the About page. As a GTD novice myself, the more I read about it, the more interesting it seemed. In essence, it’s a highly developed task prioritization structure, which as anyone who has been inundated with seemingly equally-important tasks can attest, can be helpful. GTD is also interesting in that its principles can dovetail into your personal life and help you appropriately structure non-work goals and aspirations. All of these elements, I feel, would further strengthen ActionComplete’s value proposition.
  • I’m always a stickler for differentiation. To the untrained eye, for example, the home page may look a lot like Outlook. It’d be powerful to articulate how ActionComplete and the GTD is an improvement upon your typical task management methodology and/or tool.
  • From a Web copy perspective, the home page grabs me with its screenshot, yet I have to scroll to the bottom to learn about the tool itself. I’d place the copy above the screen shot, front and center (e.g. “ActionControl: Task Management Toolkit for your PC and Android.”)

Droid on ActionComplete

So, what next?  Well, you can download a copy of Action Complete at the Android Market, or by scanning the QR code that is featured on the homepage. It’s free.  “AC for Android Pro”, meanwhile, is in the works and should be released later this year. And for you soon-to-be-extinct PC-lovers out there, ActionComplete for the Web is free, while “AC for Web Pro” is $19.99 a year.

Which ultimately brings us to the grand irony of our time: we have all these new-fangled gadgets, tools, and devices, yet we’re more frazzled and confused than ever.  (It’s almost as if the corporate overlords – gasp! – don’t want us to get our act together.)  This is where ActionComplete’s business proposition becomes all the more enticing: people do a ton of work on their handheld devices, and if we’re to believe the experts, that trend will only accelerate.  Throw in recent news that Android has overtaken the iPhone as the smart phone leader, and you can see how users can benefit.  That is, we’re going to be doing more and more work on smart phones. Tools like the GTD-inspired ActionComplete – rather than, say, Garfield’s nihilistic ravings – are helpful compasses to help us navigate these choppy and uncharted waters.