Being a Good List Maker, Project Manager and Boyfriend

By Luke on April 14, 2011

I usually describe Flow to people as being useful for everything from remembering to pick up eggs to planning corporate mergers. We use it for just about everything at MetaLab and it’s completely changed the way we interact with each other and with our families. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be sharing some of the ways that we use Flow to get things done.

We've used Basecamp. We've used Things. We've even used a big whiteboard on the office wall. There's a ton of amazing productivity software out there, but we found that they all break down when your workflow is split between too many applications. If you want to create a task for a teammate, it goes in Basecamp. If you want to add eggs to your grocery list, you use Things. You can’t be productive if you’re constantly flicking between several different task bins. If you’re already having to jump between Gmail, Photoshop, iTunes, Twitter and Harvest, you don’t want to complicate your workflow even further.

Every second or third week, I like to buy my girlfriend flowers. I say every second or third week because I often forget to every second or third day. I’ve started writing “Buy girlfriend flowers” into Flow as a task, usually leaving it in my inbox so that I'm reminded each and every time that I open it up. Now, when I am sitting at a cafe waiting for lunch, my iPhone will remind me to swing by the florists on my way back in. It’s dead simple and a hell of a lot easier than carrying around a piece of paper.

But any to-do list app can do that. Here's where it gets interesting. MetaLab provides several blogging platforms with themes and templates. That’s my job; managing designers and getting a lot of small projects or themes done. I used to create a new label in Gmail each and every time that I contracted a new designer or developer. After a while, my inbox was a complete mess. Messages from my girlfriend were lost in the deluge of project updates. Buying flowers became buying forgiveness.

Flow’s completely fixed this problem. I’ve got individual lists for each project and a birds-eye view of what needs to get done. Not only is it streamlining project management, it’s allowing me tremendous oversight over the finer details of each individual project. Nothing gets lost, nothing gets buried and everything gets my attention when it needs it.

In managing so many projects at once, the most important part of Flow is that none of the designers, developers or content-writers that I interact with on a daily basis_ need to be subscribers_– not a single one of them needs to shell out for the product. Our whole team at MetaLab has paid accounts, but we deal with an army of subcontractors, writers, accountants, and lawyers on a day-to-day basis. All I have to do is type their email address into the delegation field and they’re sent an email notification. We can have discussions in the app or simply correspond by email. Whether they want to use it not, the conversation is centralized within Flow.

It’s not just for business management though. If I find Flow useful for anything, it’s coming up with ideas for a new piece of fiction or for a new poem. If I am lying in bed one night and brilliance breaks, I roll over and grab my phone and write myself a task. After a while, I can pull up a list of my best ideas and get to writing. It keeps all of these tasks separate from business and the day-to-day and they’re always ready when I get some time to sit down to write. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re a list maker, or a project manager, or just a good boyfriend, Flow is going to make your life a lot easier.