I have seen a few discussions about the subject here, but it is still not clear for me which program I should use for task management. My requirements are following:

It MUST...

  1. be Windows software (particularly W7)
  2. have time tracking of task activity (by pressing start-stop)
  3. be freeware for non-commercial usage
  4. have task hierarchy
  5. be simple, clear, tiny, fast, and convenient

Update: Applications requiring web registration are not welcome.

Other things like web sync and mobile clients are not important.

So far I have tried Task Coach suggested by techsupportalert.com/best-free-project-time-keeping-utility.htm. It is fine, by there are some things which need to be improved.

Personally, I like Google Tasks (although it is not win soft), so I am dreaming about a similar program which would meet my requirements.

Could you suggest me something?

So far possible solutions:

  1. Task Coach -- not very tiny -- please, vote to make it better http://taskcoach.uservoice.com/pages/26465-desktop-version-windows-linux-mac-of-task-coach/suggestions/333841-tiny-window
  2. ManicTime -- no hierarchy?

Refused programs

  • org-mode of emacs -- text mode only, but may be perfect for you if you like it
  • Project.net -- not free
  • ToDoList -- complicated UI
  • Klok -- complicated UI, not intuitive
  • OpenGoo -- not Win app, web-based
  • SlimTimer -- only web-based, no handy client so far
  • RescueTime -- web-based, soft-tracking, no client

Also a big fan of ManicTime, although the lack of task hierarchy did bug me too at first. I don't know if it would be good enough for what you need, but ManicTime does have an export feature -- you could always do an end of day "wrap-up" instead of interrupting your workflow when you change contexts.

I've found the best combination is to lay out tasks on paper at the beginning of the day, log time invisibly with ManicTime, and mark off tasks as I go. Low overhead and low stress.

[Edit] Actually, I use a variation of the Pomodoro Technique, which is worth looking into if you need a way to track time and stay on task. The PDF book on their site makes some good points about task tracking and overhead... basically, the returns for minute-by-minute task tracking aren't worth the extra effort. As long as you can approximate that level of record-keeping, it tends to be "good enough" for most people. Unless you bill by the minute of course. :)

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The best time tracking application, as votes by the readers of Lifehacker, was Klok. You can read more about it here.

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  • I have tried Klok and some other programs from the Lifehacker article. So far ManicTime is the only one which gives hope. However, it doesn't have a task hierarchy. Anyway, thanks for the link, Alex. – Andrei Oct 9 '09 at 12:37
  • @Andrei No problem. – alex Oct 9 '09 at 12:58

Try using ToDoList it has a bunch of features, like assigning task to users, splitting tasks into subtasks etc., in addition to the features you have mentioned. Most of all it's a freeware

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  • Hm, I had a look, but really don't like its UI. I would prefer another program (Task Coach?) unless they have a tiny-UI plugin to manage my tasks and time. – Andrei Oct 9 '09 at 12:14

I don't know if you like to get hands dirty with some code, but org-mode of emacs does this and much-much more.

  1. It is not exactly a "Windows Software", but runs in Windows fine. I use it on Windows 7.
  2. Does that.
  3. Is Open Source and free.
  4. Has that
  5. Manual is quite thorough. Principal developer is very accessible through mailing list. Of course, this is text based, but very fast and sometimes feels years ahead of any such application. (I have tried a few of them).
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  • If I would be a true *nix user, I run for it. But I am a Windows user used to press buttons and click mouse, so this solution doesn't look very attractive for me. However, I appreciate your detailed answer and experience sharing. Thank you. – Andrei Oct 9 '09 at 13:35

I'm using SlimTimer for my office needs. It's very lightweight and flexible. I like that it's so simple -- no bells and whistles, and it's web-based so I can access it anywhere.

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  • Doesn't have hierarchy; requires web registration; its AdobeAir application is not very convenient. I don't know -- for me it's much better to stay with Task Coach and/or ManicTime... – Andrei Oct 9 '09 at 12:43

Try PTM (http://ptm.sourceforge.net/ . I prefer TaskCoach because it runs on Linux too, but PTM may be what you're looking for. I too think the "tiny window" thing would be useful in TaskCoach, but it's not really an issue for me because I have two large monitors and I leave TaskCoach open on one of them.

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A little bit late to the party, but I'd like to recommend super productivity. It's cross platform, free & open source and offers a lot of features including sub tasks.

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