It’s like an old college girlfriend moved next door.

First, allow me to fill in the background. I have a memory like a sieve, and I’m a world class procrastinator. When a young man I revelled in this, and the way it allowed me to be perfectly sanguine in the face of a mountain of work – turn my back on it, and hey presto! It’s gone. Unfortunately, as the spring of one’s life passes into summer stuff needs to be done. Now the effect of not doing things spreads from me, to my wife, then my children, and eventually my parents. Unfortunately, I haven’t developed the top drawer memory and drive to match my burdensome responsibilities. Luckily, we live in the age of the smart phone, and I became enamoured of, then used to, and eventually reliant on a little app called Astrid. Astrid was great. I could set up a reminder, and she would, in the manner of a spouse, nag me constantly until I finally gave in and did the damn task. Then she would nag me about something else. At one point, she even started nagging me about stuff I’d not asked her to nag me about; “why don’t you go for a walk, you idle swine?”, “have you told someone you love them today?” and so on. “why not have a cider?”. That never came up, just like real life. And then, it was all over. Yahoo bought Astrid, and shut her down.

I was heartbroken. Heartbroken and inefficient. Like glasses, once you offshore things like memory, your native ability withers and dies. There are other lists and reminder apps, and in the end I settled on wunderlist, but it wasn’t the same. Why wasn’t it the same? Because wunderlist doesn’t nag me. It treats me like an adult. It sends me a polite reminder, to my phone and my gmail account, and hey, that’s it. “you’re an adult nick. I’ve reminded you. I shouldn’t need to do more than that. Of course I’m disappointed that it’s been a month since I reminded you, and you still haven’t bought a new transformer for the bathroom light/ written the blog article on limiting the iteration of looping nested folders in an exchange database/ had a cider, but I also am an adult, so I’m just going to sit here with pursed lips until you remember on your own.” Not good enough for me, frankly. I need my hand holding. My nose wiping.

So I’m thrilled to see that an enterprising bod called Alex Baker has written an Astrid clone. Once again, I can get nagging reminders of incomplete activity on my smart phone. I can once more set a timer incorrectly, and get woken up in the middle of the night with a reminder to apply teak oil to the garden furniture (from last year, that one… good work, nick). Just one problem  – I’ve been using wunderlist for a year, and I’ve sort of gotten used to having it around. I like the way I can create a task and assign it to my daughter (clean up the dog eggs in the back garden, my princess!). so what I actually find I need now, like some kind of tasklist polygamist, is a way of linking the task in wunderlist to the nags in the astrid clone. So here is how I’m doing it.

  1. set wunderlist to send out an email reminder to your gmail inbox.
  2. use this remarkably good script that will automate creating a task from an email with certain parameters
  3. set up google task sync in the astrid clone.

You will need:

  • A wunderlist account (free)
  • A gmail account (also free)
  • A willingness to use copy and paste
  • some round-ended scissors and some gloy.

 

Wunderlist will send out an email reminder, if you tell it to, that will pop into your inbox, from hello@wunderlist.com, with the word “Reminder:” in the subject.

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I’ll not bother going through the script – I’ll just point out the bits that the author assumes you know already:

Create a new label:

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Create a new filter:

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Go to settings (it’s the thing that looks like a big cog on the right) and click on filters

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Scroll to the bottom and click on “Create a new filter” and follow the instructions in the article for creating the new filter.

 

Create a new spreadsheet:

Go to  drive.google.com and log in with your google account, if necessary. Click on the big red “create” button on the right:

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And again, follow the instructions in the script blog post to create the spreadsheet, and add the script to it.

 

Finally, install the Astrid clone, and enable sync with google tasks;

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And there it is, done. Of course if you use Evernote, you can add a filter to emails you get from Evernote to add the “newtask” label, and the Astrid clone will nag you about them, too. I just hope it never starts nagging me about my weight.

 

 

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