Firetask — Project Oriented GTD Task Management for Mac, iPhone and iPad

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Firetask for Mac Cheat Sheet

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Why Use Firetask?

Firetask Icon The main concept behind Firetask is to keep you focused on what you need to do today and within the next couple of days as well as what you could do next. We also try to provide you with visual hints such as different icons for categories, traffic light-style colors for priorities, or “burning” overdue tasks. In addition, Firetask can help you keep track of tasks you have delegated to other people.

In other words, Firetask was designed by and for people who need to manage and execute dozens to hundreds of tasks every week, or even day. This is our focus and we hope that you like our approach to heavy-duty task management.

Due & Next Tasks

If there is one core concept in Firetask then it is the separation of due and next tasks. We are treating due and next (i.e., not due) tasks differently, because we strongly believe that it makes a major difference whether a task is really due on a certain day or whether you just think that it might be good to work on this task on that day. In our opinion, the separation of due and next tasks is also one of the most important concepts of David's GTD®-approach to efficient task management.

Due vs. Next Tasks

Due Tasks

Due tasks are tasks that have a due date set and thus get relevant when they are due today or within the next few days in order to let you focus on the current day as well as the next few days. If Firetask would show you all due tasks on the Today and Categories views by default you would get overloaded with tasks that are most likely not yet relevant for you. Note that you can configure the number of days you want to have taken into account in Firetask’s settings (between tomorrow and up to 7 days).

Next Tasks

Next tasks are tasks that have no due date set, i.e., you can choose to complete them anytime. Again, we chose to prevent you from “information overload” by limiting the Today view to a single next task per project by default. The single next task that is automatically chosen per project is simply the first open task in a project (you can adjust the order of tasks in the individual project tasks lists as described further below in “Projects”).

As there might also be other next tasks that are very important to be completed as soon as possible, you have the ability to mark a number of next tasks as flagged. On the Mac and iPad you can flag tasks simply by clicking or tapping onto the task's flag icon. On the iPhone you need to go into the details of a task in order to mark it as flagged. Note that you can also flag due tasks, but this will only be a marker, it will not have any effect on how many due tasks are shown on the "Today" view.

Only due tasks can be set to repeating and can have a reminder time set. Firetask for Mac also allows for sophisticated repeat patterns ("Custom..."), Firetask for iPhone & iPad only provides simple repeat patterns (daily, weekly, etc.). On the Mac repeats and reminders can be quickly set "inline" by clicking onto the repeat and reminder indicators when hovering with the mouse to the left and right of a due date respectively; you can also set repeats and reminders in the task's details on all platforms.

Firetask’s User Interface

When you take a closer look at Firetask's user interface on the Mac, on the iPad and on the iPhone, you will see that they resemble each other rather closely. But there are also some more or less subtle differences, since we wanted to embrace the different advantages of each device's form factor. For instance, on the iPhone and iPad we decided for a tabbed user interface, because it provides you with fast access to the most relevant parts of the functionality. On the Mac we opted for a source list-style approach that you probably know from Apple's Mail application.

Let's take a quick look at each of the more important views, before we dive into each view in more detail:

  • IntrayIn-Tray lets you capture tasks and ideas you do not know what to do with them yet
  • TodayToday shows all currently relevant due and next tasks
  • ScratchboardScratchboard allows you to quickly note down short-lived tasks (on the iPhone located in the "More" tab)
  • ProjectsProjects provides you with access to your projects and project-oriented task lists
  • CategoriesCategories lets you access your "Waiting For" list and your tasks by categories
  • OrganizeOrganize (Mac & iPad) was designed to help you with your weekly GTD® review
  • CalendarCalendar (Mac only) See and manage your due tasks in like in a calendar like view
  • SomedaySomeday is a task list for things you want to maybe do someday - it relates to the Someday/Maybe list in GTD®

The In-Tray

The “In-Tray” is a place to quickly enter a task or idea -- simply to get it off your mind and into an organized system. The newest In-Tray item is always placed on top, the oldest item on the bottom of the list. Note that in Firetask the In-Tray is technically a task status rather than a separate list. Therefore, you can very easily make an In-Tray task actionable by changing its status to “Actionable” (or tapping on its status icon).

In-Tray items will not be visible in project or category task lists unless you change their status to "Actionable" or "In-Progress" and thus, move it out of their In-Tray status.

Quick-Entry (Mac only)

The "Quick-Entry" function in the toolbar can be triggered using a global keyboard shortcut (by default CTRL+CMD+.). By default, new entries added with the quick-entry function will be added to the In-Tray. Note that you can add multiple tasks consecutively by pressing the ENTER key.

You can configure the global quick-entry shortcut using the "Preferences" window.

The Today View

The application always starts up with the “Today” view. The idea behind the Today view is to provide you with a one-stop view of all tasks that are or could be relevant to you on this specific day, but at the same time hiding currently not relevant tasks from you. In order to use Firetask effectively, this is the most important concept you need to understand and embrace. The Today view will determine whether you are going to like Firetask or not.

Today

If you really do need to see all tasks at once (and we encourage you to not use this mode too often) you can always use the "All" filter that is present on the Today view.

You can add new tasks directly from the Today view by pressing the “+” button on the top-right corner of the view on the iPad or iPhone. On the Mac you can simply start typing into the "Add new task" placeholder row. Please note that depending on the due date you have set and the order of next tasks in a project, the Today view might not instantly show the new task you just added. In other words, if Firetask “thinks” that the task you have just added is not yet relevant for you the task will not show up on the Today view.

Simply tap to change the status of a task

In order to change the status of a task to “In Progress” or “Completed” simply tap once or twice on the status icon that is located to the very left of each task. This functionality is available in all task lists (Today, category and project task lists). If you have completed a task accidentally you can tap the priority again and the task status will revert to “Actionable”.

You can also tap or click the status icon to quickly make an In-Tray item actionable, or to un-complete an already completed task in the Completed view.

In order to view the details of a task on the Mac you have to double-click on the task. On the iPad or iPhone you can simple tap on a task to view the details or edit it. You can delete tasks via hitting the BACKSPACE key on the Mac, or via swipe-delete on the iPad or iPhone. Deleting a task will normally move it into the Trash status. If you delete a task from the Trash view it will get permanently deleted.

The Scratchboard

We agree completely with David Allen that you really should do tasks that take less than two minutes right away - if you can (and this is the catch). However, sometimes something comes in and you are already late for your lunch date. Or you just wanted to do something and the phone rings. These are the situations the Scratchboard was designed for: to have a place to put very short-lived tasks that you normally wouldn't write down at all. In other words, if you just wanted to grab a post-it note: don't do it, write it on the Scratchboard ;-).

If something ultimately takes longer than you originally thought you can simply move the task from the Scratchboard to the In-Tray or into a project task list.

Projects

In Firetask every task belongs to a project. If a task is not part of a specific project you can use the predefined “Miscellaneous” project. Similar to tasks, projects have a status and a category. Please note that tasks will only appear on the “Today” view if both the project has been started and the task is actionable.

New projects can be created by tapping on the “+” button in the “Projects” view on the iPad or iPhone. On the Mac you use the "New Project" toolbar item. On the iPad and iPhone, editing and deleting projects is done via the project detail view that can be accessed via tapping on the blue detail disclosure button displayed beside each project. You can reorder your projects by pressing the “Edit” button on the iPhone or iPad and by using drag & drop on the Mac.

Projects

By clicking on the project name you can access the project’s task list. This list is the best place for detail planning your tasks. On iPad and iPhone the “Edit List” button allows you to reorder the tasks displayed in the “Next Tasks” section. On the Mac you can again use drag & drop both for reordering next tasks and for moving tasks between projects. Please note that only next (i.e., not due) tasks have a defined order, due tasks are always automatically ordered by due date and priority.

The topmost next task is automatically displayed in the “Next Tasks (per Project)” section in the “Today” view. If you want to see more than one task per project in Today you have to mark those tasks as flagged (on the Mac you can also drag & drop tasks onto "Today" in order to flag them).

Categories & Waiting For

Another one of David’s concepts is what he calls “contexts” and what we call “categories”. We simply chose the name “category”, because we found it to be more common. A category can be used to group tasks together depending on their “kind”. Typical categories are “Phone Calls”, “Emails” or “At Home”, but you are free to define whatever category you want.

Use icons to quickly identify different categories

The basic idea of categories is to have quick access to all tasks of a single category. For instance, if you have time and you are anyway on the phone you might be able to efficiently make a few calls rather than just a single one. Another example might be a category “Agendas” where you put all things you might want to talk over during the next meeting with your team. Sometimes, you might not always remember everything you wanted to cover in the next meeting. Now you simply navigate to the category “Agendas” and you can quickly go through all relevant tasks one by one.

You can create a new category by tapping on the “+” button in the upper-right corner of the “Categories” view on your iPad or iPhone. On the Mac you have to use the "New Category" toolbar item. Editing and deleting a category is possible from the category detail view - similar as for projects. Like projects, the order of categories can be customized by pressing the "Edit" button on iPad and iPhone or by using drag & drop on the Mac.

The “To Dos” and the “Waiting for” categories are vital to Firetask's task management logic and therefore, cannot be deleted.

Waiting For

CategoriesThe "Waiting For" list is a very special category. It is inspired by one of David’s GTD® concepts, although it was our choice to implement it in the form of a context/category. The idea behind the Waiting For list is to have a single place where you can track tasks you do not need or want to complete yourself, but rather have delegated to other people. In other words, tasks you are “waiting for” to get completed by the people you assigned those tasks to. In our opinion, the Waiting For list is one of the most powerful concepts of GTD®.

On the Mac you can use @assignee tagging when typing in the subject of a task to quickly create and assign Waiting For tasks (check out the Firetask for Mac Cheat Sheet for more information).

Organize (Mac & iPad)

The “Organize” view is available on Mac and iPad and shows a kanban-style overview of either all relevant due and next tasks (across all projects) or a snapshot of a specific project. You can drag tasks around both for assigning due dates and for changing the order of tasks in a specific project. We designed the Organize view in order to provide you with a good visual overview about what is currently "going on" generally or in a specific project. In our opinion, the Organize view is especially useful for doing the weekly GTD® review in a relaxed way by using the iPad on the couch or while watching TV (or both :-).

Organize

Calendar (Mac only)

The “Calendar” view provides a simple calendar-style view for due tasks. It is especially practical for reviewing the upcoming week's or the current month's commitments.

Today

Checklists (Mac only)

Checklists provide you with a kind of simple project or task list template. The idea is to save a number of tasks that you perform more often in the same order as a so-called "checklist", so that you can easily reuse them later (without entering the same number of tasks again and again). You can save a checklist by selecting a project, category, or a number of tasks and then select "Save as Checklist..." from the "Tasks" menu. You can add a checklist at the current insert position by using the "Paste from Checklist" sub-menu of the "Edit" menu which will diplay all your saved checklists.

Currently, there is no sophisticated editing functionality for checklists. If you want to edit a checklist you need to paste it somewhere, edit it, and save it as a new checklist. You can then delete the old checklist via the "Checklists" tab in the "Preferences" window.

Access to “More”

The “More” source groups on the Mac and iPad as well as the “More” tab on the iPhone provide access to task and project archive views. In addition, the Mac version comes with three optional views for the "Review" section that can be made visible by configuring the "Sidebar" in the "Preferences" window.

  • PrioritiesPriorities (Mac only, hidden by default) groups all actionable tasks by priority (starting with "Critical" down to "Trivial")
  • AssignedAssigned (Mac only, hidden by default) groups all "Waiting-For" tasks by assignee
  • StarredStarred (Mac only, hidden by default) shows all actionable tasks that are marked as starred
  • ArchiveArchive contains an archive of all completed, cancelled, and deleted (i.e., trashed) tasks and projects

On the iPad and iPhone the Archive tool can also be used to access quick-delete functionality for all completed, cancelled, or trashed tasks. On the Mac you can access these functions via the “Tasks” menu.

Syncing

Firetask provides two ways of syncing between your Mac, iPhone and iPad:

  • Cloud-syncing connects all your devices to a central server in the cloud in order to sync them over the Internet
  • Mac/Bonjour syncing uses one dedicated Mac to sync between different devices over a local WiFi network

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. However, now that we have cloud-syncing available, this will be the more interesting choice for most Firetask users.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that all devices you want to use for syncing are uniquely named compared to each other. We use the "device name" on iPod/iPhone/iPad and the "computer name" on the Mac. You can set the device name in the source list in iTunes when your device is connected to your Mac and the computer name in your Mac's "System Preferences" app under "Sharing".

Setting up Cloud-Syncing

In order to sync your iPad, iPhone, or Mac to the Firetask Cloud for the first time, execute the following steps:

  1. If using Firetask for Mac open the Firetask "Preferences" panel, navigate to the "Syncing" tab and make sure that "Cloud-Syncing" is selected as the Syncing Mode
  2. Press the sync button on your iPad, iPhone or Mac (located on the "More" tab on the iPhone and in the toolbar on the Mac - by default placed on the right side) that has the data on it that you want to use for uploading to the cloud initially. NOTE: This should be your "best" data, as it will replace the data on your other devices.
  3. Follow the instructions of the cloud-syncing setup wizard and choose "Sync with Cloud"
  4. Choose "Use My Existing User" if you have already created a Firetask Cloud user and you want to sign on using this username, or if you want to reuse your existing MindMeister user. Choose "New Firetask Cloud User" to create a new user for the Firetask cloud-syncing service
  5. IMPORTANT: Select "UPLOAD" as initial syncing mode (this will upload your data from the current device and overwrite whatever data is already on your cloud account). Wait until all data is successfully uploaded - now your data is on the cloud and we can initially download it to other devices in order to add them to your Firetask Cloud account
  6. Press the sync button on your next device and choose the same Firetask Cloud user
  7. IMPORTANT: Select "DOWNLOAD" as initial syncing mode from all other devices (this will initially download your previously uploaded data from the cloud). Note that all other Firetask data that might still be on this device will be overwritten. Wait until all data is successfully downloaded - now your data is in-sync with your Firetask Cloud account
  8. Repeat steps 6. to 8. until all your devices are set up for syncing with the Firetask Cloud

You need to sign on using the same cloud-syncing user from all devices. Our cloud-syncing service is hosted by our friends at MindMeister - this is why you can reuse your MindMeister account for accessing the Firetask Cloud.

IMPORTANT: Be careful to select the correct initial syncing mode, otherwise you might accidentally overwrite your data.

Setting up Mac/Bonjour Syncing

In order to sync your iPad or iPhone with your Mac for the first time, execute the following steps:

  1. Start Firetask on your Mac, open the Firetask "Preferences" panel, navigate to the "Syncing" tab and make sure that "Mac/Bonjour" is selected as the Syncing Mode
  2. Press the sync button on your iPad or iPhone (located on the "More" tab on the iPhone)
  3. Select "Sync with Firetask Mac" in order to select Mac/Bonjour syncing
  4. Choose the Mac you want to connect your iPad or iPhone to
  5. Follow the instructions of the Mac/Bonjour syncing wizard
  6. Select "Download" as initial syncing mode if you want to replace your local task repository with the tasks stored on your Mac. Select "Upload" if you want to replace the tasks on your Mac with the tasks on your iPad or iPhone.

IMPORTANT: Be careful to select the correct initial syncing mode, otherwise you might accidentally overwrite your data.

If you want to sync between multiple Macs we encourage you to use cloud-syncing instead.

Reconfigure Syncing

If you want change your syncing configuration, e.g., in order to migrate from Mac/Bonjour syncing to cloud-syncing, you need to reset your syncing information on each device. On the Mac you can do this via the “Reset Syncing” item in the “File” menu. On the iPad you need to tap and hold the sync button for about two seconds to get into the “Repository & Syncing" popover and then choose "Reset Syncing”. On the iPhone the “Repository & Syncing” view can be accessed from the "More” tab.

By resetting syncing all syncing information gets lost. If you want to reconnect to an existing Firetask cloud account you will need to choose whether you want to upload the current data on your device or whether you want to download the cloud data to your local device. Never reset syncing and upload from one device without also resetting syncing on all other devices before uploading - this way you might accidentally duplicate data on your other devices and the other devices might also get out-of-sync.

On the iPhone the "More" tab also hosts the Scratchboard and the syncing configuration - simply because we have only five tabs available. On the iPad you need to tap and hold the sync button for about two seconds to access the syncing configuration.

Troubleshooting

In case something does not work as expected please check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) first.

If you experience inconsistencies during syncing please first try to resetup syncing as outlined below (99% of all syncing errors result from slightly incorrect initial syncing setups, from accidentally renaming devices, or from wrongly adding new devices). If the problems do not go away after performing the procedure, or if you need to apply the procedure more than once, please let us know. Note that all instructions are written for cloud syncing, as this is the recommended way of syncing.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to choose the right device to resetup syncing from. The procedure will use the data on this device to overwrite the data on all other devices. Choose the device with the "best" or most complete data.

IMPORTANT: Make sure to always re-setup syncing for all devices. If you leave one device out this device will not be in sync anymore with all other devices.

Resetup Syncing from Firetask for Mac

Please follow the following instructions in order to use the data on your Mac to resetup syncing. Make sure that you answer the initial syncing choices (upload/download) exactly as outlined below. Note that this will overwrite all Firetask data on iPhone, iPad, and all other devices:

  1. Switch off automatic syncing on your Mac (menu "Firetask" -> "Preferences")
  2. Reset syncing on your Mac (menu "File" -> "Reset Syncing")
  3. Clear your iPhone (from "More" -> "Repository & Syncing") and iPad (hold the sync button for about 2 seconds to access the configuration menu) repositories
  4. Press the syncing button on the Mac
  5. Select cloud-syncing and "UPLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly upload your Mac data to the cloud)
  6. Wait until all data is uploaded
  7. Press the sync button on your iPhone
  8. Select cloud-syncing and "DOWNLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly download your data from the cloud)
  9. Wait until all data is downloaded, then repeat steps (6) to (8) for your iPad
  10. Reenable automatic syncing on your Mac after all devices have downloaded the new data (see below)

You have to clear and re-download also from all additional Macs, iPads, iPhones etc. that you are using Firetask from so that really all task repositories are back "in-sync".

Resetup Syncing from Firetask for iPhone

Please follow the following instructions in order to use the data on your iPhone to resetup syncing. Make sure that you answer the initial syncing choices (upload/download) exactly as outlined below. Note that this will overwrite all Firetask data on Mac, iPad, and all other devices:

  1. Switch off automatic syncing on your iPhone (use the iOS built-in "Settings" app, section "Firetask")
  2. Reset syncing on your iPhone (via the "More" tab -> "Repository & Syncing" -> "Reset Syncing")
  3. Clear your iPad (hold the sync button for about 2 seconds to access the configuration menu) and Mac (menu "File" -> "Clear Repository") repositories
  4. Press the syncing button on the iPhone
  5. Select cloud-syncing and "UPLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly upload your iPhone data to the cloud)
  6. Wait until all data is uploaded
  7. Press the sync button on your iPad
  8. Select cloud-syncing and "DOWNLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly download your data from the cloud)
  9. Wait until all data is downloaded, then repeat steps (6) to (8) for your Mac
  10. Reenable automatic syncing on your iPhone after all devices have downloaded the new data (see below)

You have to clear and re-download also from all additional Macs, iPads, iPhones etc. that you are using Firetask from so that really all task repositories are back "in-sync".

Resetup Syncing from Firetask for iPad

Please follow the following instructions in order to use the data on your iPad to resetup syncing. Make sure that you answer the initial syncing choices (upload/download) exactly as outlined below. Note that this will overwrite all Firetask data on Mac, iPhone, and all other devices:

  1. Switch off automatic syncing on your iPad (use the iOS built-in "Settings" app, section "Firetask")
  2. Reset syncing on your iPad (hold the sync button for about 2 seconds to access the configuration menu -> "Repository & Syncing" -> "Reset Syncing")
  3. Clear your iPhone (via the "More" tab -> "Repository & Syncing" -> "Clear Repository") and Mac (menu "File" -> "Clear Repository") repositories
  4. Press the syncing button on the iPad
  5. Select cloud-syncing and "UPLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly upload your iPad data to the cloud)
  6. Wait until all data is uploaded
  7. Press the sync button on your iPhone
  8. Select cloud-syncing and "DOWNLOAD" as initial syncing option (this will cleanly download your data from the cloud)
  9. Wait until all data is downloaded, then repeat steps (6) to (8) for your Mac
  10. Reenable automatic syncing on your iPad after all devices have downloaded the new data (see below)

You have to clear and re-download also from all additional Macs, iPads, iPhones etc. that you are using Firetask from so that really all task repositories are back "in-sync".