The Hit List

One of the many reasons why
Macheist was a great buy

Permalink by:Kasey Kelly Thu Apr 9th, 2009 View Comments

I was just lamenting to Issac (developer and co-creator of Servee) a couple of weeks ago that I wanted a good to-do list/calendar/CRM. We ranted on for a while about what our ideal business management program would look like. Then we went back to work, only to buy a couple copies of the  Macheist bundle a week later.

I've gone back-and-forth with different incarnations of these to-do apps for a while and I hadn't yet found one that was worth the effort. I had been using color-coded text in my trusty old OS X stickies app (the one in the applications folder, not on the dashboard), and that had worked just fine for me. 

After downloading Macheist I began to dig into The HIt List by the Potion Factory, and quickly found that they nailed it. The parallels between this seemingly simplistic program and our the business management utopia that Issac and I had discussed are uncanny. You can prioritize rearrange, and put deadlines on your to-do list.

The great thing about this app though is that it has a built-in timer, where you can compare actual time vrs. estimated time. This has potential to be extremely useful, but it's not quite there yet.  Currently, this feature is only applicable on an item-by-item basis, and and you can't edit the actual time. I'd like to be able to change the actual time after I've used the timer program. As many good intentions as I have, four hours of billable time on a project might have included 20 minutes in tweetdeck and two phone calls from unrelated clients. I need to be able to edit my timer logs if I'm going to use them for billing purposes.

In addition, If there was a dashboard where I could select multiple tags and then see actual-vrs-estimate ratios, I would be able to use that information to more accurately estimate projects. For example:

Lets say I have designed three websites in the last month. In The Hit List, you tag items with "/" marks. So my list would look something like this:

  1. Website 1
    1. Initial research /Client A/ /site research/
    2. Wireframe /Client A/ /wireframe/
    3. Design mockups, round 1 /Client A/ /design/
    4. Design mockups, round 2 /Client A/ /design revisions/
    5. Front-end Dev /Client A/ /code/
    6. (...etc.)
  2. Website 2
    1. Initial research /Client A/ /site research/
    2. Wireframe /Client A/ /wireframe/
    3. Design mockups, round 1 /Client A/ /design/
    4. Design mockups, round 2 /Client A/ /design revisions/
    5. Front-end Dev /Client A/ /code/
  3. Website 3
    1. Initial research /Client B/ /site research/
    2. Wireframe /Client B/ /wireframe/
    3. Design mockups, round 1 /Client B/ /design/
    4. Design mockups, round 2 /Client B/ /design revisions/
    5. Front-end Dev /Client B/ /code/

On each item, I have a client tag and an action tag. I can also enter a time estimate for each item, and then use the timer to find out how long each item actually takes. Currently, I can click on an item to find out how far off I am. It would be especially useful if I could select all items with the tags "Client A" and "design revisions" to find out where my estimates break down. If I am consistently estimating low on revisions, I need to know that. If I'm only estimating low on revisions for one particular client, I should be able to determine that, so that I don't skew my estimates for clients who think all of my work is perfect the moment it leaves my desk. I'd like to keep those clients happy (as soon as I find them...)

Overall, it's a great program. The UI is beautiful and unobtrusive. The program is useful, then gets out of the way. AND, it's still in Beta. I can't wait to see what comes next.

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