I redesigned the personal task manager

Alexander Obenauer
6 min readOct 19, 2017

For a long time, I’ve thought that task apps should look a lot more like calendars. Here’s my idea for what that might look like.

It’s like Mail Pilot, but for tasks. That is — it completely re-interprets the task management app based on how we actually use tasks.

With a better understanding of the fundamentals of how we create, think about, and use tasks, I’ve designed a productivity app that is meant to significantly close the semantic gap between people and their productivity software.

It’s that gap that causes people to go in to a new task app firing on all cylinders, only to abandon it within weeks.

Instead, this design gets into the user’s head. It would allows us to visualize and interact with our tasks the way we think about them.

The Month View

We’ll dive into all the views, but I’ll start here because this one helps convey some of the initial concepts and motivations for this task app idea.

Here’s the month view. Thinking about tasks based on when you’ll do them allows you to be more systematic and prepared. It allows you to be more productive by not looking at a single, huge, daunting task list or backlog of things to do. It builds momentum by allowing you to see how much you’ve already gotten done this week, month, etc. It helps you see gaps in your planning.

It also allows you to find out the answer to the question, “what did I do last week?” Or last month. Or last February.

Besides regular tasks, you could define recurring tasks that need to land on specific days.

One of the most used features in Mail Pilot is reminders, with usage spiking at around 4 - 5 pm. Most days, some things have to be deferred. And that should be okay. Here, you can just drag items to other days.