SmartPlans – Multi Planner, Multi-Tasking Just Got Easier

Total Score:  28

I don’t know about you, but I have multiple projects going on all the time.  Reminder apps do not quite meet my needs.  I need something a little robust so that I can manage my time more efficiently.  Smart Plans – Multi Planner for iPhone or iPad fills that need.    I can create a simple task list and create a number of multi-month projects.    This is not an app designed to be shared with a team, this is an app for one person’s use to manage their time and tasks. 

Price Rating = 4     $19.99.   This is a little on the high side, but remember, it is a full-featured planning tool.  You should also remember a good, printed daily planner could run you over this price.

Ease of Use Rating = 5     I wouldn’t say that learning to use the app was easy, but only because it has so many features to explore.    Adding projects or simple tasks is easy; the only difficult part is learning to take advantage of all of the features.   The online user guide is very helpful.

 Readability Rating = 5     Reasonable size font and nice color differentiation.

 Will You Use It Rating = 5     Juggling multiple projects is complex.  If you need to do this, this software will certainly make things easier.

 Downsides Rating =  0     A small learning curve is the only downside I have run up against.  It is not worth taking off any points.

   Consumer Review Rating = 4     There are over 500 ratings and only one that was critical.  I was impressed with those numbers.

Why Do You Need This App Rating = 5     The most obvious reason is that it can help you relax a little about your tasks.  You will not be wondering if your task is on time – you will know where you stand.  Good project planning can save money as well.

How does it work? 

  1. In this full featured app it’s hard to determine what your first step should be.  You could just jump into setting up projects, but you might want setup some context for your life.  By clicking the context button you go to a screen that allows you to set goals for work balance in your life.   You will determine what percentage of your life is devoted to work, family, etc. It is a healthy exercise to think about the time you need to spend in each area of your life.
  2. To set up your first project you just type a name into the “Quick Add Plan” tab.   A pop up will appear that allows you to adjust the name of the task, change the color of the task name, set the start name, estimated hours needed, amount of hours to spend each week, number of weeks, deadline and gap days.  There is also a context section — there will be more on this later.  You click save and you are ready to get started on your project.
  3.  Go to the Quick Add Task to add sub-tasks to your main plan.  For each task you add, a pop-up appears to allow you to set a location.   You can determine if you need to go somewhere, phone someone, get something, write to, or meet someone.  The who in this case can be pulled from your contact list. (This is a cool feature.)  Or, you can just type in these fields
  4. As you create your task, you will certainly see that some are sub-tasks — or dependent on another task.  You simple drag and drop those tasks into a main task and it creates a milestone task.   You can easily move the tasks around on your list by simple drag and drop procedures.  You can even create dependencies between projects.  I haven’t tried it, but the instructions are available in the quick reference guide.   You have an option of either the one that is imbedded in the app or going to the online version.
  5. Once you sync the app with your calendar, (instructions are included in the app) the tasks pop into your iOS calendar.
  6. You can see your projects in Gantt chart mode, which is very helpful as you manage your overlapping projects.  By setting the date (upper left hand corner), you can jump to any date in the calendar to see what you will be doing.
  7. As you work on your tasks, you can click the timer in the center of the top status bar to start any individual task, or start all.  You can push the pause button to stop the timer and then restart it as needed or you can push the red button on this pop up to mark the task as closed.
  8. Closing out tasks is as simple as tapping on them.  You can open a milestone by clicking on the arrow beside it and then tap on the three lines on the right of any projects to bring up a menu that will allow you to delete, copy, complete or edit a task.  Once you mark any task complete, it updates the milestone bar that appears on each project.
  9. You can click on a project to bring up a list of tasks.  You can then save as a snapshot or export to CSV.
  10. You can also copy whole projects.  I consider each review a project and now I can copy the steps over for each specific review.

I am very impressed by this app and see that it can be very helpful in managing my various projects both long- and short-range.  I did my best to explain the features on this app.  Any confusion should be attributed to me and not the designer.   There are multiple options involved in this app and multiple ways to organize, plan and display your projects.

I only tested this on the iPad.  I know it works on the iPhone, but based on the robustness of the app, I decided to focus on how I would use it — on the iPad.

Devices:   This app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  It requires iOS 5.0 or later.    It was developed by Left Coast Logic LLC.

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