Every so often, someone writes a very useful program that addresses our issues in a radical new way.  I’ll be the first to admit that there are already plenty of task management apps on the market.  Some of them are very, very good, and some of them are downright unusable.  I’ve tested many of them, and I have my favorites, but essentially, they all operate along the same lines:

You have a to-do list, you create new items that you need to accomplish sometime in the future, set up reminders so that you don’t forget to do those things, and if you’re lucky, your task management app will sync in and out to your calendar software.

Time Flies, by Absent Design, doesn’t do any of these things, and yet it is still a task manager with a very interesting twist.  Instead of looking into the future at what needs to be done and when, Time Flies organizes your oft-repeated chores from a place in the past.

Yep.

Weird but true, and also very effective.

Time Flies helps you answer the question.. “When did I last do ___?”

Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is “Oh My… has it really been that long?”  Yes it has, and that’s why this little $0.99 app is so useful.

Time Flies for iPhone offers a significant departure from your typical task management. It’s more of a diary for your tasks.  Here’s the premise:

First, you set up a list of things that you do regularly (or things that you should do regularly, but forget about.)

For instance, I set up:

  • Give dog a bath
  • Wash car
  • Check garden supply levels
  • Water fruit trees
  • Call Mom (yes, I actually have to remind myself to do this, sorry Mom..)
  • Change main water filter
  • Check pH in fish tank

You get the point.

Next, notate when you last completed each of those things.

Now you can see your past-based to-do list from a historical perspective.  You can also bookmark certain of the higher priority items, so that they stand out in your list, drawing your attention over the other items.  And now, when you think to yourself, “when was the last time I, say, washed the car?” you can look it up.

When you see that it’s been 4 months (!!) you can use some other task management software to fit a trip to the local car wash into your schedule, because Time Flies doesn’t currently connect to your calendar software.  When you do finally get to the car wash, simply open up Time Flies, and click on NOW, to reset the clock on that item.

Finally, you can add events, and mark their “last” completion date to some time in the future, and the app will provide you with a countdown timer and offer an alert when the task is due, which is feature very unique to task manager apps.

Bottom line:

Time Flies is a really great way to keep track of repeat tasks that you need to do every once in a while, and that (perhaps) you sometimes have trouble keeping organized.

Time Flies is not a viable task management tool for folks needing to manage multiple daily to-dos or who need to be able to see their tasks inside of a calendar.

Note: I only review about 10% of the apps that I download and try, and I only adopt permanently about 50% of what I review.  That’s a pretty small number, and even so, I like Time Flies so much that I am working it into my toolbox, to manage my household tasks that I often neglect.  It’s cool, it’s intuitive, and it’s sure to help me manage my household responsibilities much more efficiently.

Enjoy!

PS: As Columbo would say, “oh, sorry, just one more thing:”

Be sure to check out the developer’s blog.  Anyone who approaches a common issue from a brand new direction is worth paying attention to.  Reuben Stanton, aka Absent Design, records his thought process, and gives us a behind-the-curtain glimpse into why he develops the way he does.  Reuben’s thinking is the kind of courageous innovation that I really appreciate, especially as the old workflow models (such as email) begin to break down.