I would like to solicit recommendations for what—for lack of a better term—I would call a Personal Project Workspace (PPW).
By PPW I don’t mean a project planning tool with Gantt charts, etc. such as Microsoft’s Project or OmniPlan (I own OmniPlan Pro). I don’t mean a Task list manager such as Things or Todoist or OmniFocus (I own and use OmniFocus). And I don’t think I want something as unstructured as Curio (which I own) or Notion (which is eminently available). Since these are largely personal projects, I don’t need a tool that focuses on collaboration.
What I need is an app that gathers anything and everything relevant to a project into one organized workspace; emails, notes, tasks, appointments, documents, etc. It seems so logical and sensible to have everything in one place I should think there would be a lot of options out there but I am aware of only one; Marketcircle’s Daylite, which is generally classified as a CRM but also organizes projects in addition to “opportunities”, as CRMs often call them. (I suspect that under the hood they are fundamentally the same; the end point of an Opportunity being to close a sale, the end point of a Project being to complete the project.)
Why not use Daylite? Well I do, and have for six or seven years. My annual subscription was renewed only three or four months ago. But Daylite is severely crippled on my Mac running Catalina. Daylite’s Mail Assistant plug-in, which is used to link emails to contacts, projects, opportunities or companies and pull them into Daylite, isn’t recognized or available in Mail on my Mac. Marketcircle’s customer support (which I’ve found over the years to be exemplary) says the problem is a flaw or bug in the operating system on my Mac. Apple says they can do nothing about it and sends me back to Marketcircle. The only suggestion Marketcircle offers that “might” work is a Nuke and Pave.
So I’ve been casting about for options. I need a CRM and have concluded that I may be better served by what is sometimes called an ECRM, or e-commerce CRM, which differs from the traditional sales-focused CRMs (such as Salesforce and Daylite) that focus on the sales process. An ECRM is usually triggered after the sale has been made through an e-commerce platform (eg. Shopify, Bigcommerce) and is used to manage the customer experience and customer support and often can even be integrated with accounting.
That still leaves a hole for all of the other projects I need to keep on top of that are beyond the scope of task managers and where it’s useful (essential?) to have a repository of all of the tasks, email messages, documents, notes, etc. Any suggestions?
Basecamp has a pretty useful free tier that’s ideal for individual use, but it’s not ideal for CRM. (You could hack together something with AirTable, though I’m not sure if that’s allowed in those respective free versions.)
Aye, as others have said, this is what DEVONthink was built for. Among other uses… it is quite the software.
I prefer DT for a variety of reasons, but there are lots of apps that serve the same need. Keep It, Notebooks, Evernote. Evernote! Incredible that no one talks about the elephant in the room anymore.
Agenda is an app not yet mentioned that might be an interesting option for you, especially if calendar integration is important. The current beta of Agenda includes a Share Sheet, which means you can probably put everything you’re talking about in there. It has stellar design, too—I mean, yes, it looks good, but it’s also really well thought-through.
Thank you, everyone, for your kind and thoughtful responses to my inquiry. And from so many luminaries! I am humbled by the response.
Interesting, the number of votes for DevonThink. DT was one of two or three reasons I made the switch from Windows to Mac in 2013. I bought it first and foremost as a research tool for academic and book writing projects but use it also for a paperless office, archiving personal and business records and documents.
MacSparky has said he uses Basecamp, which is high recommendation, but the three-project limit for the free version is too little and the $99 per month for the regular version is too much.
Agenda is interesting and I’ve been using it for occasional notes and bits of information I encounter that I lump into potential projects that are in a percolation stage, often with an Agenda link in the notes field of an OmniFocus task.
I think I’m looking for something pre-baked that can contain a portfolio of projects where I am or know that I will be spending significant amounts of time with each of those projects and where there are a lot of moving parts that need to be readily accessible. (To be clear, Daylite did that admirably for me while it worked and I’m beginning to conclude that It may be pretty unique.)
So I’m still looking. A lot of people like Asana. Perhaps it might fill the need.
I use Asana. I don’t know if it will work for your purposes but it has a very robust portfolio system, calendaring system, Gantt charts, projects can be in list or kanban board style, you can link to any type of document from multiple cloud services as well as from your computer, manage all correspondence, due dates, and it has hyperlinks available not only for the entire project but for each individual task within a project. Again, I don’t know if this will meet your particular needs but it sounds like it could go along way to doing so. I have folders in various cloud services related to a given project so it’s easy to connect projects/tasks, to meeting notes and other documents seamlessly.
I used to use Daylite and Devonthink but made the switch to Asana and Devonthink - the great thing about Asana is that can bookmark an Asana Project or list or Progress url to Devonthink, and Devonthink will allow you to save the log in details - I was sad leaving Daylite as I had it for 10 yrs but haven’t looked back
DEVONthink vote here also – I’ve managed all my business and personal projects with DEVONthink as the hub since it first came to market – 14 or 15 years ago, maybe longer.
Two good things: DEVONthink works well with just about any common file type (and a lot of uncommon ones), so working with documents is a key feature. Second, DEVONthink provides a unique for every document it knows about in it’s databases, so you can reference the document outside of DEVONthink and still link back to it.
Also, the DEVONthink input tool, “Sorter”, is excellent for capturing info into your databases.
This post is 9 months old, but I’m wondering what you settled on in your search for a daylite replacement.
I too am looking for something like a CRM. I have many open casefiles (I do labour/employment arbitration, collective bargaining, other advocacy) at a time, that are ongoing and of various duration, but not quite a “project” and not quite an “area of focus” to use GTD’s vernacular. I’m looking for a way to manage these files.
My requirements would be:
ability to manage file status (open, pending, in progress, at hearing, etc)
ability to link correspondence to the file, and have that correspondence filtered and sorted as I require
ability to link “projects” between my task manager and the “crm” file manager
I currently use Omnifocus and Devonthing, and tried to organize files as top level projects in Omnifocus, but some files just don’t earn their right to be in omnifocus. I’d prefer that OF stick to ground level and doable projects/tasks. But at the same time, I’d like for doable projects related to a file to be linked to that file.
I’ve played with DayLite, but I can’t justify the personal cost, and I haven’t figured out a good way to hook it with Omnifocus (tried zapier). I do love though how you can link up email correspondence with the actual file so I can keep an ongoing chronology.
Asana might work? But not sure how good email integration and contact management is.
I’ve also thought about whether my reliance on Omnifocus is the problem by trying to make my work and personal task management requires fit in one app…maybe I should pull all this work out into a separate application and silo it off.
You mentioned that you were in touch with @MacSparky. I wonder if you say his name three times if he will turn up? But if he reads this, I’d kill for him to do a field guide type project just on his legal and litigation workflow. Even project managers and other case managers might benefit from that.
Anyway @Crystalliere, if you are still watching this forum I’d love an update about what you’ve decided on.
Marketcircle’s Daylite. Spent some time a few months ago settling up a large, multi-month project I was devoting substantial amounts of time on in Notion, after viewing August Bradley’s YouTube videos on using Notion. Then suddenly “poof”; all that work disappeared and I never was able to recover it. I don’t know what that was about.
Daylite’s Mail Plug-In started working again when I upgraded from Catalina to Big Sur a few months ago so I allowed my subscription to continue when renewal came up last month and am using it now… with some reservations over the experiences I had with Catalina. It is pricey but I don’t know of anything else that can do what it does.
It is possible to paste a hyperlink to any object in Daylite (opportunity, project, task, email, contact) into the notes field of an OmniFocus task. But they otherwise don’t talk to each other very well.
+1 for #evernote Heavy / long-time user and tackle many of items you refined using a mixture of folders and tags. It takes any doc format, links, images, etc etc etc. the flexibility is fantastic to how I work.
I think a lot of it comes down to how you organize things where it makes sense to you.
Like Crystalliere, I have not been able to find anything which can match Daylite. Have, over the years trialled, investigating alternatives to Daylite, all the usual task managers (Todoist, Things 3, Omnifocus, 2Do, etc, etc and etc!). Still have continuing licenses to the 3 big ones, not to mention many others which I no longer use.
However, nothing enables me to centralise my professional and private life like Daylite. Any object in DL can be linked to any other one. Projects show me all my email pertaining to a particular issue, as well as their contacts, any notes and all communications. My Daylite projects go back some 15 years now. This stability and archiving function has been utterly invaluable at times.
No slowing down with several hundred projects - active and archived. And they all have a “hyperlink” URL which works on OSX, iOS and iPadOS. Can be pasted into any other app. Used in conjunction with DEVONthink and increasingly with TheBrain, things are simplified and centralised.
Expensive? Heck, yes. Especially for us non-North American folk. However, if I ceased my subs to Things, Todoist, Hey mail, BusyCal and BusyContact, cost is covered well and truly.
Cannot remember the app ever crashing. Sync is fast to all platforms. And, finally, I have to mention their support team which is simply stellar.