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A list can be a wonderful tool to help get things done.  It is a wonderful focus point to push our activities in the right direction.  But one problem with task lists is keeping them current across various platforms.

The obvious choices are:

  • Outlook
  • Google
  • Thunderbird w/Lightning (Mozilla)
  • Phone based applications

I’m sure that Apple has a suite with an integrated calendar and task list, too… but I’m not a Mac user, so I don’t know about their options.

Mozilla Thunderbird
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I recently changed from a BlackBerry Pearl Flip to an Android T-Mobile G2 (affiliate link) phone.  One of the first things I found out was that the G2 had MANY more applications, and that there were a lot of options for synchronizing calendars… especially with Google.

I have been using Mozilla’s Thunderbird Email Client for a long time, but had dismissed Lightning, the calendaring/tasking component, because of a lack of features that worked for me.

Outlook has been my Calendar/Task List Manager of choice because of the nice interface and flexibility of its platform.

I’m getting ready to drop Outlook (I’m using a beta of Office 2010 that expires at the end of October) in favor of Google and Thunderbird/Lightning.  There are a variety of reasons that I am doing this…

  • cross-platform synchronization
  • cloud-based flexibility
  • free!
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Cross-platform sync and cloud-based flexibility are related.  In essence, if I am mobile and complete a task (or think of a task), when I enter it on my mobile device it should go to my home computer.  Similarly, tasks and calendar entires from my home computer would be automatically on my phone… And regardless of which computer I am on, I’d have access to all of my tasks and appointments via my Google calendar.  Another benefit is that I can share my calendar (like with my wife) so that others I choose may see my availability.  I can also integrate shared calendars from others (our Cub Scout Pack and our Tiger Cub Den, for example) so that I can see group activities.  This allows me to have a better idea of what appointments and commitments I have as I schedule new items.  At the same time, others can see when I’m likely to be available.

There is just one problem…  Google Calendar’s Task App doesn’t support sharing yet. This is supposed to be changing… and I will be very excited when it does… but I didn’t have the sharing capability with Outlook, so I can’t complain that I still don’t have it.  I’m also not thrilled with the Task function on Google.  There is no way to enter a recurring task.  Of course, until Google allows an API for the Task function on Google Calendars, it doesn’t matter because the tasks are stuck there and can’t sync with either the phone or the home computer.

Still… at least there are future plans to allow the synchronization between the three platforms (mobile device, home computer, cloud) for tasks… and there is current support for calendar synchronization at all locations.  Outlook will do some of this, and through 3rd party applications (on Outlook 2010) can sync with Google… there is still a matter of cost, and Outlook isn’t doing it better, it just costs more.

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