Today is Work Monday, let’s have a look at a productivity tool. Thoughtboxes is a web app that helps you organize ideas and to-dos. It’s principle is simple, you put things/ideas under the same project/category together. All items are grouped visually so you can see which follows which and what belongs to what. It sounds simple but matches the way most people think. It you are looking for a simple tool, this web app worths a try.
How to use
In Thoughtboxes, you create trains of thought. In each train you set up boxes to collect individual items. So the hierarchy is Train of thought -> Box -> Item. The free version gives you only 3 trains of thought. I use 3 trains for Home, Office and Study respectively.
Each train of thought has a separate page that shows all boxes therein. To keep everything tidy you cannot find boxes of other trains. It’s great because you would not get distracted but on the other hand if you want a snapshot of all your items there is no way to get it.
You can assign different names and colours to different boxes. I prefer abbreviations and keywords instead of long descriptions. (Anyway you can’t pick a long one since anything beyond the 18th character would be chopped off by Thoughtboxes). I guess this is for simplicity’s sake.
You can re-arrange boxes, re-order items in a box and move items from one box to another. Unlike many task management apps, you cannot find “due date” or “priority” fields. The only mark you could add is a star which means important item. To use it as a to-do list, I usually write the due date at the beginning of each item, followed by description and “owner”, if any. Again I think the guys who made Thoughtboxes wanted to make it simple.
You can share your trains of thought with your friends, if you are willing to upgrade to the “super” class. It costs $5/month or $50/year.
Who Should Use It?
Thoughtboxes is certainly not the kind of to-do management app that provides a truckload of functions trying to please everybody. No, it’s for people who want to empty their mind, collect ideas and organize thoughts. As the founder Matthew so described:
I like to design things and think about better ways to get organized. I think software should be fun to use, not clunky and awkward. I try my best to make Thoughtboxes fun!
And I think Matthew truly did what he aimed to do. I know many friends who can afford a smartphone by still use pen and Moleskine notebooks to mark diaries and jot notes. What they need is not a powerful tool but something simple that you don’t need to learn and adopt to it before use. Thoughtboxes is exactly this kind of thing. I highly rate this concept and would use it when I need to organize simple ideas in the office. Why use a professional app to mark and sort straight-forward things, right?