Over 2000 most active Nozbe users have downloaded Nozbe 2.0 beta (for Mac, Windows and Linux) to date. Thank you!
If you got it, you might have noticed not only significant UI improvements but also some other, more subtle, but also very important changes in the way we’re naming things in Nozbe.
Inspired by an amazing book and methodology…
Back in 2007, when I first launched Nozbe, it was a web app inspired heavily by David Allen’s GTD® (Getting Things Done®) methodology. Well, in the beginning, I only implemented three aspects of it: Next Actions, Projects and Contexts… but I used David’s wording as much as I could. Like you wouldn’t add a task to your project but you would add an “action”.
While it hadn’t been such a big deal, still we had been getting many emails by confused customers: why we’d name a task an “action” while the word “task” is a lot more common one for calling well… a task. This is where we had started thinking about changing some of the naming in Nozbe:
Actions to Tasks
When three years after the launch we started translating Nozbe to different languages like Polish, Spanish, German and Japanese, we noticed that while in English the action vs task argument is not such a big deal… especially among GTD® enthusiasts… in all the other languages the word “action” has little to do with “task”. In Japanese these words are written in totally different alphabets even: “Action” in Katakana (like all foreign words) and “Kodo” (task) in Kanji (native Chinese-Japanese alphabet).
That’s why, back in 2010 when we redesigned Nozbe, we went with “task” instead of “action” to make our system more comprehensible to a wider audience. Now, that we’re planning to launch more local language versions of Nozbe, we’re very confident with our choice.
Next Actions vs Priority tasks
I love the concept of “Next Actions” in GTD® and I think it’s one of the keys to success of this system. However, if we already don’t have “actions” in Nozbe but “tasks”, why do we call the high-priority tasks from each of your projects “next actions”? We’re not consistent here.
They should be called “next tasks” or “what to do next”… so we decided to try “Priority tasks” as the word “priority” makes sense among wider audiences - if a task has a high priority it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, i.e. it’s in fact your next action, right?
Contexts vs Categories
While the word “context” makes total sense for what it is… people really get confused about using it in reference to a task. For the 7 years of running Nozbe, I’ve been often asked: what is a context? how do I define contexts? why should I use contexts? context of what…?
The word “category” has a wider meaning. People get it more easily. Especially when I tell them: “by applying contexts you’re effectively categorizing your tasks…" - and again, it’s hard to use this word in any other language than English. Category is universally understood… and makes more sense to more people.
Projects vs Lists
At some point I even thought about renaming “Projects” to “Lists”. Why? For two reasons:
- Projects don’t need to be big… yet people think they are. Many Nozbe customers have a problem calling a series of 5 simple tasks a project… They think a project needs to be something really significant - a huge undertaking…
- A project can be just a list of unrelated tasks. Again, I use Nozbe like this all of the time. I have a project called “private tasks” where I put all of the tasks that are not directly related to any of my active projects but belong in my private life. When I explain this to people, they say they’re not comfortable calling such a list of tasks a “Project” and ask for a different solution.
Ultimately we didn’t change the name.
Although we have the concerns listed above, I still believe the name “Project” is very active. And Nozbe is not a task manager, it’s a task do-er. You’re supposed to get things done with Nozbe and creating “projects” for this purpose makes more sense than just “lists”.
No. We’re not moving away from GTD®, we’re brining it closer to the people… by not calling it GTD®
That’s right. I believe our goal of teaching people great productivity habits through an amazing Nozbe user interface is still our top priority. This is what we stand for. This is why we’re re-designing Nozbe right now. This is why we’re adding more functionality while removing clutter.
Our job at Nozbe is to empower people to learn great productivity principles and helping teams work more effectively together by learning to communicate through tasks.
Actually not that many people know GTD®. Both inside and outside of the US. And while the David Allen Company is expanding its reach internationally, I’m sure we have a shot at doing it a lot faster by introducing our software to even more people all over the world. And we want everyone to learn great productivity habits fast. That’s why I also recorded my 10-steps to Ultimate Productivity course in all the languages I know.
We want people to learn great productivity habits and techniques. Not just GTD®.
New names in Nozbe beta
To see if what I write above makes sense, we decided to change these names in Nozbe beta and leave them “as is” in Nozbe 1.9… and there was no outrage. Some folks asked about the change, but most didn’t notice and others applauded us for this.
To me, it’s a great indication that we’re doing something right here. After all, Nozbe beta is being downloaded by our power users, people who presumably know GTD® and have been following Getting Things Done® for a while now. And apparently the great majority don’t mind the new names :-)
I also don’t want to put up ® signs all over Nozbe site. Nozbe is actually a registered trademark but I never write Nozbe® although I could.
Both GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen company. Nozbe is not affiliated in any way with them (other than by thanking them for brining this methodology to the world!). David Allen is still my top productivity guru and a great friend. We met several times and I hope we’ll soon meet again.
Nozbe is an app that helps people get everything done and empowers teams to communicate effectively through tasks.
That’s what we stand for. New names/old names… our mission stays the same. We want everyone in the world to get organized and more productive!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
- post written by Michael Sliwinski, CEO and founder of Nozbe