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A Nice AutoFocus App for the iPhone

AutoFocus is a minimalist time management system by Mark Forster.  It certainly has its merits, especially if you find that time management systems like Getting Things Done (GTD) are too complicated.  While there’s all kinds of GTD apps for the iPhone, only recently have apps based on AutoFocus started to appear.  A very interesting AutoFocus app is FocusTodo (n.b. the website seems nearly entirely in Japanese) by Syncreticworks.

I reviewed FocusTodo at my other, pre-DFW blog.  Since then, FocusTodo has had some changes made, so I thought this would be a good time to write briefly about it here.

The underlying theme of FocusTodo - and AutoFocus - is that your brain is your best single tool to decide what to do next.  All it needs is some simple reminders.  So AutoFocus is an extremely simple system, and FocusTodo is extremely simple software.

FocusTodo is extremely faithful to AutoFocus, and that is both it's greatest advantage and greatest disadvantage.  AutoFocus is clean and simple and lightweight.  So is FocusTodo.  But AutoFocus was designed for pen and paper implementations, which means it is constrained by the limits of writing things down "old-school."  FocusTodo is so scrupulous in following AutoFocus that it treats the iPhone as if it were a paper notebook.  FocusTodo could have been - and I believe will someday be - much more effective by taking advantage of more of the iPhone's power.

The newest version (1.3) adds a couple of fairly useful features from the version I originally reviewed.

Moving tasks.  You can now move tasks between notebooks.  This is good for helping one reorganize oneself as project scopes and life goals shift.  This has required a reworking of parts of the user interface.  Fortunately, the new interface is still very clean and efficient.

Badges per notebook.  Each notebook can display the current number of incomplete tasks.  This is also very useful for deciding which notebook of tasks you should work on.

A few other smaller bugs have also been fixed.

So, FocusTodo remains a contender.  Progress appears a little slower than I would have liked, but I still think it's one of the best apps for truly simple task management.


  1. The website is Korean :)

  2. Yes, the website is in Korean. Nonetheless, this is the website of the developer of FocusTodo. As an academic, attribution is an important characteristic in writing. I try whenever possible to attribute to primary sources.

    The app itself works just find in English.

  3. Hi Filippo.

    Please try my auto focus web application. (supports iphone)


    Thank you. :)

    1. Thanks for the link. I've added it to my list to check out as soon as I can.


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