TaskMerlin is hierarchical task, project, and note outliner with a lot of attention to detail. It supports a fair amount of customization and support valuable features like a Sort Designer and highly-flexible filtering.

GTD and TRO with TaskMerlin

TaskMerlin does GTD and Total, Relaxed Organization.

You can create persistent filtered views for Unprocessed Tasks, Weekly Review, etc. using the Sort Designer.

Multiple tagging is possible by entering comma-separated values in the tag string, then saving filtering criteria for instant access later. Name your tags carefully to ovoid overlapping names and false matches. (Ex.: you can enter "Errands, (Work), Calls" as a tag string and search for "Errands" to find all tasks with "Errands" anywhere in the tag strings.)


  • Thanks for the review, Kevin!

    [Editor's note: in the initial review, we stated that TaskMerlin is missing fast or persistent, saved filtering by context and/or tag. This was incorrect. Andrew Macdonald's excellent reply follows.]

    In TaskMerlin, you can create filters based on the context or tag (or any field combination) and save them in the Filters pane. They can then be clicked on at any time to give that custom view. There's also a Filters toolbar button to apply the current filter to any project or folder you subsequently click on.

    Thanks for your reply. I created an example filter based on the context, called "Home or Office":
    That filter subsequently appears in the Filters pane (lower-left), and can be clicked on. The items that meet that criteria then appear in the Task Grid (upper-right), and can be edited.
    Also, clicking on the right-most Filters pane toolbar button causes the current filter to persist when the user subsequently clicks on items in the Folders pane (top-left), in this case the Inbox folder.

    Andrew Macdonald
  • At a client's request, I've evaluated exactly how to implement TRO with TaskMerlin. It looks like it's possible to do a proper TRO system with it, but it takes some extra work. Here are a few tips to get you started:

    1) Customize the default new task settings to include the following fields: Start Date, Due Date, Context, Status, and perhaps Priority. Do not use the hierarchical projects unless you are managing a major project with more than 5 active next steps (eg: Remodel).
    2) Use the fields this way:
    Start Date = loose goal for when you will complete the task
      +Due Date = bad things will happen if I haven't started the next step by this date
      +Priority "lowest" = someday/maybe (otherwise, ignore priority)
      +Assign a context to everything according to the area of life it corresponds to (work, personal, etc)
      +Customize the task "statuses" for things like "calls, errands, 1alex" etc. (like a category/tag)
    3) Create custom filters in the bottom-left corner of the screen to help you find the tasks you need:
      +"Must do today" (due date = today)
      +"May do today" (sorted by start date, oldest first)
      +"Weekly Review" (see review section)
      +"Monthly Review" (priority = lowest)
      +Unprocessed Tasks (no context set)

    Resist the temptation to add more than one or two extra fields, extra icons, sort tasks into folders/projects, or keep track of how the task is going. TRO is already carefully designed to give you full visibility on your tasks with just a few fields. It may seem simple to add one extra field to fill out, but if you distribute the time it takes to fill in that extra field over the thousands of tasks you manage each year, the time adds up, probably without substantial benefit.

    Beware of lurking task lists and collecting points. TaskMerlin is designed in a way that tends to multiply your task lists and collecting points. The more collecting points you have, the worse things get. Keep all tasks in one "folder" in the same database. Don't use it as a filing cabinet.

    TaskMerlin has a LOT of features going on. Ultimately, most of them are a distraction. You want the simplest solution, the smallest bandage that will cover the wound. No bigger and no smaller. TRO was designed to help your task lists auto-prioritize and quickly help you complete the most work with the least additional effort (IE: maximum productivity gains instead of perfect organization or perfect utilization of program features). If you change the core of auto-prioritizing start/due dates and begin adding extra features, the TRO benefit can disappear quickly.
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