Introduction to SuperProductivity, not just another to do list app

If you’re reading this you’re also the kind of person that’s struggling with keeping track of all the various tasks and requests coming your way on a daily basis. You’ve realised over the years that the human brain is not very good at remembering most things and have already tried several solutions for task and/or project tracking with unsatisfactory results. You’ve tried the likes of Wunderlist before Microsoft bought and promptly closed it, OneNote, Evernote, Reminders on iOS and Mac, the to do list on Outlook, on Google, but all of them are missing something.You’re not sure what, but they’re not satisfactory tools.

Because of this you’ve been forced to resort to multiple tools, each with their own quirks to be able to keep your productivity high. Various simple freeware/shareware tools which you don’t even know if you can trust with your data.

I’m happy to introduce you to a recently updated and constantly developing open source application called SuperProductivity (yes, name is a bit over the top). I’ve been trying it out for the past several weeks and I think it might help you too. While it’s still missing some features (like task priority), with its rapid development cycle it will most likely have them soon.

The TL;DR version

SuperProductivity is an open source, local or hosted task, time and project tracking, productivity management, note taking, all-in-one application. Because all its data is stored locally privacy is guaranteed. Thanks to its cross-platform compatibility you can use it on any device of your choosing. All data can be exported and imported to a different device. It can synchronize between devices if provided with a suitable file storage mechanism(WebDAV, Dropbox, GoogleDrive).

Feature overview:

  • task lists with support for sub-tasks
    • markdown notes
    • attachments
    • repeated tasks
    • scheduled task
    • required time estimates
    • tags
  • project task list
  • notes
  • Built in Pomodoro timer, customizable
  • sit-stand reminders
  • simple timers and counters(tea timer, break timer, user defined)
  • time tracking for task/project
  • project time reports
  • light/dark themes
  • local to device
  • can synchronize across devices
  • crossplatform

Where to get it

SuperProductivity is available as a mobile applications for iOS and Android, available on the corresponding AppStore, as a Desktop application for Windows, Linux and MacOS or as a simple webapp(not recommened). All package formats can be found on the projects github releases page here or the homepage here.

What problems it’s addressing

There are a plethora of to do list and productivity applications available nowadays. Unfortunately they are all very narrowly defined in scope and you need several to get everything done. Which brings me to the main problem it’s addressing for me.

An all-in-one application

SuperProductivity unifies, in one single application, many of the features one needs to keep track of their time and tasks throughout the day and various projects. You don’t need to use all its features, but at the same time you don’t need any extra application to say, have a pomodoro timer running while working. You don’t need to have 3-4 different applications that don’t communicate with each other open at the same time.

As simple or elaborate a to-do list as you need

With SuperProductivity I’m able to very quickly and easily update a simple task if something unexpected shows up and I need to do something else. The unexpected extra task can become a subtask of the current one. I can easily add a subtask with it’s own notes, info, reminders, deadlines, attachments, whatever is needed. I can move a task from one list (Project) to another right away. The notes on the task support markdown formatting. This means you can make them as elaborate and detailed as you need.

The to do list can be made as complicated or as simple as one needs, while retaining the flexibility and features when they are needed. Most other applications can do either one or the other.

Built in Pomodoro Timer

Even though some managers don’t agree with regular breaks, the science shows otherwise and working in blocks with regular break does increase productivity substantially. It’s sometimes not practical, but when it is it’s very effective.

If you’re like me and like working in blocks of time, then you’ve probably also struggled finding a timer that fits you’re individual pattern(I had 4 different ones previously for MacOS and Linux). SuperProductivity has a costumizable Pomodoro technique timer. You don’t have to do the classical 25-5-25-5-25-5-25-15 Pomodoro timings. You can use a more “school type” timer like 50-10-50-20 that I tend to use. But the important thing, it’s all customizable, you choose how long the work/pause block length is and how many blocks before the longer break starts. It can be tuned to your own bodies rhythm and needs.

Basic timers/counters

Nowadays most watches and smartphones have a timer to remind you of sitting too long. This can also be done with SuperProductivity. It can also count, say the 3 extra coffees you had today because you’re trying to lower how many you drank. These are all customizable to your needs. It can generate a counter for how many times you clicked a button or a timer that goes up or down depending on what you need. Like 4 min for tea infusion.

Data is local or synced

Privacy becomes a bigger concern as more and more services get more and more interconnected. Even though a to do list doesn’t seem like much it can leak quite a lot of valuable information(think NDAs and such). I’m very happy with the fact that SuperProductivity stores all it’s data locally in files on the machine. It has the added benefit that I can extract this data at any time if I need to move it to a different machine. Extra to this it can sync it’s data using the WebDAV standard or use services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Both of these services defeat the purpose of using it for privacy, but with the WebDAV standard it can be connected to your own private server.

Having someone nagging you

Most people won’t agree with this one, but especially with working from home it can get distracting sometime. Not you of course, but a friend you know 😉 , tends to get lost for 15-30min on Youtube/Facebook/Instagram/reddit sometimes. It’s good to have a notification, sound or pop-up show up sometimes asking you what you did the last half hour or so. Of course this never happens to you 😉 , but it’s a useful feature to get you back on track. Which brings me to the next feature.

Tracking of time

This major part of the software shows the freelancing origin of the developer. It’s the core feature and it’s able to track how much time you have spend on an individual task and project. You can use this feature as intended or you can use the project as a list of task that you keep updating.

Once a task is completed it shows up at the bottom of the project page and by clicking on finish the day you generate a report of the times and tasks you have done on that project.

Think this feature might be very useful for the researcher that finds himself part of multiple groups and has to provide hour listings for both groups. The reporting for projects is quite detailed and it does support rounding of times.

Quick Reminders

SuperProductivity has a Notes feature that isn’t as well developed as in other applications, but it has the benefit that the notes can be given timers and reminders. You write down something you know you need in 1 hour, click 1 hour and you’ll get a reminder with that note. I don’t think it’s developed enough to be used as the main note taking solution, but it does make for good short term reminders.

Tags

Each task can get a tag via hash, just like a #hashtag which will then showup in the Tags section in the menu underneath Projects. It can be used to quickly identify some tasks, I’ve personally not needed it, but can see how it might become useful. I could for example use someone’s name for task related to that person. Then I can quickly list all tasks with that tag.

Tags and Projects can individually be configured with custom colors to help visually identify the task better.

Manually synchronizing between devices with the IST Cloud

IST users can use the ISTCloud to have their task list manually synchronized across their devices. This ensures security and privacy while having your data available across devices.

From the machine with the most up-to-date list you’ll go into settings, under Import/Export and click export.

This will generate a .json extension file with the current state of your data. Save this file to your seafile library so that it’s also available on the other devices.

On the other machine you open SuperProductivity, and in the same settings section you select Import from file. Select the previously exported .json file. This will import the previous state to this machine. You can now continue from where you left off.

Repeat this process when going back to the previous machine.

Automated synchronizing

Even though SuperProductivity supports automated sync of clients, due to security and privacy concerns related to both Dropbox and Google Drive it is currently not recommended.

Hopefully in future updates the application will offer more sync options that might also be suitable for IST user data.