Review: 30/30 Simple Task Manager for iPad

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30/30, a task management app by Binary Hammer LLC, is built around the ’30/30 work cycle’ concept, which advocates a balanced approach to performance. More specifically, 30/30 refers to alternating between work and rest in 30-minute increments. The method is based on the theory that productivity and creativity increase when one is intensely focused on a project for short amounts of time — and in small chunks. In addition to functioning as a “reward,” the break allows one’s mind to refresh. Users aren’t held to 30-minute time limits; the settings can be easily customized for each task and rest period.

As a productivity nut, I was intrigued by the concept, but skeptical because I’ve not found a task management app that works for me. 30/30’s price (free) and appealing interface was all the incentive I needed to try it.

30/30 can be used for managing work or personal business projects. The app’s developers describe it as “Simple. Attractive. Useful.” The simplicity begins with a clean, gesture-based interface which can be oriented vertically or horizontally.

The primary screen features a giant timer and list of tasks. The timer is used to start, pause and stop a work/break cycle, which consists of the items above a thin horizontal ‘Stop Task’ bar. Text is entered on large labels, and can be easily moved within a list by tapping, holding, and sliding up or down. A rightward swiping gestures deletes them, and leftward pushes them to the bottom of the list. Tapping a label twice will send it to the top. Working with labels and lists is easy and fun, and particularly agreeable if you learn and/or perceive the world tactilely.

Lists start within folders, which are created by tapping on the folder icon in the screen’s top left corner. After typing in a name for the folder, and double-tapping it, the app returns to the main screen and the same procedure is used to generate lists. Tags can be color-coded by tapping the large box to the left of the label and choosing a color from the palette. I’ve adopted a four-color system which signifies the importance of the task. Red for ‘urgent,’ orange for ‘high priority,’ yellow for ‘medium priority’ and blue for ‘low priority.’ This has worked well for me because I can quickly and easily identify what requires immediate attention.

Icons such as a computer keyboard or cup of coffee add another layer of information about the task. Two dozen icons come free-of-charge. Additional icon packs are available through in-app purchases. They include productivity, leisure, in town/at home, at work and home, children and activities, finances and games icon packs. You can buy them individually ($0.99) or grouped in a bundle of six ($3.99). Icons are not something that catch my attention so the free collection has been perfect.

The key function is the clock. When engaged, it ticks off time and makes a sound when finished. It can be set to continue to the next item once time runs out, or made to pause. The default is 30 minutes per task/activity. The timer can be changed inside a label by tapping the read out in the top right corner. Minutes can be added or subtracted in five-minute increments from the main screen; tap the ‘-5′ icon to subtract, and ‘+5′ to add. The timer can also be paused which is helpful when there’s an unexpected interruption.

The timer dial has a giant check mark, which, when tapped, signals the task’s completion. At the bottom of the dial, there’s a lock to prevent the tags from moving. I have accidentally deleted labels because the palm of my hand unintentionally touched the screen.

There are a number of actions performed under Options, which is accessed by tapping the gears in the top right corner of the main screen. In the Options screen, one can, for example, email a task list; choose to keep the screen on or not; set sounds; turn off sounds; turn on notifications; make visible the duration of tasks; and upload or download to iCloud.

As noted earlier, until now, I had not found a task manager that suited my working style. I’ve been using 30/30 for a number of months, and it’s become indispensable. I appreciate the ability to customize the app; there are times when working that I don’t use the timer because the 30/30 philosophy has helped me break down projects to manageable sizes. In those situations, I use the app more like a handwritten list. As a person with a strong visual and tactile orientation, the app’s gesture-based interface, bold colors, and even the animated sounds make it fun to use, which is no small thing when faced with unpleasant tasks. The work/break cycle is liberating because one is encouraged to take regular breaks. And, it’s during rest periods where the real work of the mind happens.

Here’s an App Store link for 30 / 30; it’s a free app with In-App purchase options as mentioned above and also a universal app designed for both iPad and iPhone.

This app was independently purchased by the post author. For information on our review policies, please see the About page.

Teresa España

Community college art instructor, indie music fan, SF Giants diehard, iPad fancier.

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