Amazing Marvin - a great Omnifocus / Things competitor app to keep an eye on

I have been an Omnifocus user for over 10 years now, and I’m a very huge fan. I think this is a major productivity app to keep an eye on. They have a lot of really great things going for it - including customizable plugins (they call them 'strategies) that let you visualize your tasks in a way that’s specific to you. If you want to see your task as a kanban, or a schedule, or interweave your tasks and your schedule, you can do all those things.

This is very clearly a new app, and the interface is not nearly as snappy or responsive as Omnifocus (or Things 3). But, it’s worth keeping an eye on, I think this will become the major competitor to Omnifocus in the near future. The plugin ecosystem could be huge (particularly if they allow third-party plugins) and the developers have clearly put a lot of thought into how a to-do list could be used.

I have decided not to make the leap yet because of the interface issues, but I made a recurring reminder to check in on the progress of this app every few months. If this app was as mature as Omnifocus but has the plugins of Amazing Marvin, I think it would be everyone’s dream productivity app.

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AM has been around since 2017. Here’s their origin story:

AM is another app that seemed like it would have worked for me, but ultimately didn’t.
It is nice to be able to change the look without starting over from scratch.

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I have looked at it some time ago. I personally do not believe in apps being a solution for procrastination. Pen and paper would probably be even better in that case. :slight_smile: this app has so many features and possibilities to change your system, procrastination seems even more evident to me. It’s a bit expensive and no native Mac app, and web only.

It is impressive how much stuff they have put into it indeed, so if you want to try out different systems and it’s probably nice.

I like Amazing Marvin and use it from time to time. I wouldn’t expect the interface to catch up with OF since it’s a web app and it prioritizes adding interesting new features (achieving native-like performance while adding new features would require more engineers and designers and refactoring a lot of the app.) The anti-procrastination features are my favorite part, and I think using it permanently for all my projects would ruin that benefit for me. But I’m sure some do successfully use it indefinitely and get more done.

By contrast, it’s very important to me that I don’t try to use OF as a procrastination-buster. It gives me the information I need, and it’s up to me whether to take it seriously.

I’m curious in what way AM solves your procrastination issues?

A burst of energy from the change of scenery, combined with enabling the palette of strategies that best fit my problem or mood that week. Plus I get a kick out of seeing what they’re developing. You really feel like you’re on the side of the developers when you use Marvin.

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I have an early lifetime AM account, so AMA.

The app does everything I can dream of in terms of task, calendar, and goal setting, for example 2-way calendar syncing with multiple Google calendars, works as a charm. Week scheduler with drag and drop from task lists? Check. Time blocking? Check. Recurring dates? Check. Smart lists? Check. Defer dates? Check. Subtasks? Check. Markdown notes for tasks and tasks groups? Check. Pomodoro timers? Check. Habit tracking? Check. API and developer access to the underying persistence store? Check.

I can confidently say that no matter the workflow (GTD, Eisenhower, Hyperscheduling …) , Amazing Marvin can help you.

But all these features -that can be enabled at will- take their toll on the UI. It’s not a bad user interface per se, and I could not easily describe it, but it is a little bit on the Omnifocus friction trap: you have a lot of clicking to do many tasks. More important, it is not a Mac-assed app, it’s built on web technologies (and quite sophisticated at that, by the way) but does not feel native at all. Also on mobile it shows that it is not mobile-first and while it is useable it falls short on exposing all the power. Also there is no native iPadOS app so in mobile platforms all the “cognitive behavior anti-procrastination” magic that AM has is nowhere to be found.

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