SmartPlans 3.0 – User Guide with Videos
Don’t Just Multi-task. Multi-plan.
A personal Project, Task, and Time Manager for iPad and iPhone
For the past three years, SmartPlans has been the most popular project and task planner for the iPhone and iPad. With version 3.0 we have taken it to the next level with a group of new features including Milestones, Linked Projects (for dependencies), Cascading detail in the Gantt view, and integration with your iPhone or iPad Calendars.
- Key Features
- Simple Plans (Task Lists)
- Structured Plans (Projects)
- Plans Manager
- Report, Export
- New: Synchronize
- New: Integrate with SmartPad and SmartCal
What’s New in SmartPad 3.0
SmartPlans 2.0 features group tasks – the ability to drag one task on top of another to create a group, then drop other tasks into it. With SmartPlans 3.0, we’ve taken this one step further by giving those Groups “Milestone” status. Milestones are automatically assigned deadlines based upon where they fit in your Project. And Milestones automatically have pop-up alerts. Its an excellent way to keep you on task by breaking up your Project into manageable groups of tasks. Best of all, Milestones now sync with your iPhone or iPad Calendar and appear in the “All Day Events” section.
By default, all Projects are “critical path” – which means, the tasks inside a project are all meant to be accomplished sequentially. Now, in SmartPlans 3.0, it is possible to have dependencies – that is, links from one project (or group of tasks) to another. In this way you can link any Project to a Milestone within another project. This allows you to have multiple, side-by-side items – for example, doing research on the next chapter while writing the current one.
In SmartPlans 2.0, the Gantt chart showed top-level Projects. Now, each Project cascades open to show Milestones and Tasks. You can further drill down to “Milestone” view to see the individual tasks inside a particular Milestone. Key to this is a new “task name” column which shows the names of all of the Milestones or Tasks in the cascade view. This works as a navigator; just tap on a name and the Gantt chart will automatically scroll to put that item in focus.
We thought about creating a calendar inside SmartPlans but then it occurred to us that the iPhone and iPad Calendars are already quite useful. Plus, their calendars sync with our other Smart apps – SmartPad for iPad and SmartCal for iPhone – and they can be shared with other external calendar as well, such as iCal on your Mac, Google and Outlook. So instead, we have a new feature that integrates both levels of a project – Milestones and Tasks – directly into your device calendar. The way it works is simple: Milestones are placed in the calendar’s “All Day Events” pane at the top. Tasks are placed into the actual calendar as ‘events’ at a time that you specify. For example, Tasks from your “Write a Novel” project are placed into your calendar each day at 7:00pm. If you set up your Project to allow for spending two hours a day on “Writing a Novel” then it will automatically place tasks into your device calendar in the 7-9pm time slot. You can option to sync both Milestones and/or Tasks. We still offer to sync tasks with Toodledo, but we do not recommend that you do both.
Most people like to see a record of the tasks they have completed, inside their Project folder. However, some people find that distracting as they only want to focus on the currently active tasks. No problem. We’ve added a simple toggle button that allows you to show or hide your completed tasks.
Key Features of SmartPlans 3.0
Freestyle or Structured
- Build simple task lists, or
- Create “critical path” style Projects, and
- Drag Tasks onto each other to create Milestones with deadlines and alerts.
- Tasks list nested inside Milestones – just drag a task onto another to create a Milestone with deadlines and alerts.
- Two types of Projects- Free Style (simple task list or check list)- Structured Project (with critical path hierarchies, targets, reporting).
Manage Multiple Plans
- Cascading detail allows you to see only what you want.
- Plan list acts as a navigator; tap to bring the Gantt into focus.
- Drill down into the Milestone view.
- Work Balance helps manage multiple plans within your work guidelines.
- Drag the end of a Plan to re-size it; this increases or decreases your work load.
- Links: Create dependencies by linking one Project to the Milestone of another (this converts the linked project into a sub-project).
Integrate with your Calendars
- Choose the level of detail you want to see in your iPhone or iPad Calendar:
- Milestones are shown in the “All Day Events” pane
- Tasks are shown as “appointments” in the default time that you specify for each Project
- Use your iPhone or iPad Calendar to share with others in Outlook, Google, etc.
- Use your iPhone Calendar to integrate into SmartCal
- Use your iPad Calendar to integrate into SmartPad
Manage Your Time
- Use the Timer to record the time you spend on tasks.
- Activate the Timer anywhere, anytime. Even time multiple tasks.
- Export timer redords to Excel for billing and auditing.
- Timer automatically monitors your Contexts.
- Assign up to 6 Contexts for monitoring. We include the basic “Life Balance” goals of Work, Family, Spouse, Self, Social and Community.
Projects are made up of Tasks.
- Create new Projects simply by tapping the “Quick Add Plan” button and writing in the name of a Project.
- Select that Project and you’ll see a list of all Tasks that belong to your Project.
- Create new Tasks by typing into the “Quick Add Task” button.
- In the Task List, tap the “check” button to show or hide “done” tasks.
Plan View – Global Items
- In Plan view, tap on the “Timer” button on the top menu bar to track the time you spend on a task.
- Select which Projects you wish to see by tapping on the “Show/Hide” button on the bottom bar:
- Navigate between Plan, Gantt and Context views. Tap the “Sync” icon to sync with your device Calendar or sync tasks with Toodledo.
Just tap on the Project called “Quick Start Guide” and you are off and running.
Manage your Tasks by creating a “Freestyle” List
You can create two types of Projects: Freestyle, or Project-style. Freestyle lists are just that – a list of tasks, and nothing more. You can drag to change priorities, and you can drop a task onto another in order to create nested groups of tasks. Freestyle projects do not have timelines, milestones, or links, and they do not appear in the Gantt view.
In the main view, Projects are on the left and Tasks are on the right. Select any Project on the left, to see its Tasks on the right.
- Create a new Task List by tapping on the “Quick Add Plan” button and typing in a name. For example, “My Simple Task List.”
- Tap “Done” on your Keyboard
- The “Project Edit” window will pop up (we call them “Projects” but you can use it as a Task List.)
- Here you can choose the Color of your Task List. You can also select the Context. See “Contexts” for more info.
- On the right side, just start adding Tasks to your List – simple!
Nest Tasks inside each other (Sub-tasks)
You can create sub-tasks easily by dragging one task on top of another.
- Select the task that you want to drag onto another.
- Drag it with your fingertip until the other task enlarges slightly.
- You will see a confirmation dialog, shown below.
You can change the order of Tasks, and Groups of Tasks, by dragging them up and down the list with your fingertip. See here:
- Create a Structured Plan
- Key Estimates for your Plan
- Add Tasks to your Plan
- Add Milestones to your Plan
- Dependencies: Link sub-Projects your Plan
- Do, Time, and Complete your Tasks
- Monitor your Progress
To create a new structured Plan, just type in a name at the top of the Project List section, then press “Done” on your keyboard.
This pops up the “Project Edit” window. Be sure that “Project” is selected at the top. (If you select “Free Style” then you will just have a simple Task List. For more on this, tap on “Manage Your Tasks” in this Guide.)
In the “Project Edit” window shown above, you can enter information about your Project. This is very important because it delivers information to SmartPlans so that it can help you to manage your progress not only for individual Projects, but also for multiple Projects. You can go back and edit these at any time.
The default start date is today, but the Project does not actually “start” until you begin Timing your first Task.You can set a start date in the future. You can also go to the Planner View (flip your iPhone or iPad sideways) and adjust the start date by dragging the Project bar along the time line.Note: Once you have started the first Task in your Project, you can no longer adjust the Start date.
- Estimated Hours
Just make a rough guess about how long you think the Project Plan will take. You can always change this later.Note: SmartPlans automatically creates a new task called “TBD Task”. The duration of this Task is equal to the total estimated hours that you input here. This “TBD Task” is just a place holder. As you later add Tasks to your Project, the duration of this “TBD Task” will decease accordingly. For example, if you add a Task that you estimate will take you 10 hours, then the duration of your TBD Task will decrease from 80 to 70. See below – before, and after, adding a task…Before
After adding a 10-hour Task
- Work Balance
How many hours per week would you like to spend on this Project? Based upon this, SmartPlans can calculate how many weeks of work your Project will take, based upon the total number of hours and the number of hours per week that you wish to spend working on it. Handy!Note: After you fill out (1) and (2), you will see an estimate of the number of Weeks that your Planned Project will take. You can adjust the number of Weeks by changing the Estimated Hours or the Work Balance. You can also do this visually, with your finger-tips, on the interactive Gantt chart. See “Plans Manager” in this Guide.
Do you have a fixed Deadline for this Project? If so, select “Pin” from the Deadline Dialogue box, and key in your Deadline. This “Pins” the end-date of your Project to a specific date in time-line of the interactive Gantt chart. Default is Un-Pin, which allows you to adjust the Start, End, and Work Balance graphically in context with all your other Projects, as shown in the next section “Plans Manager.”
It is very helpful to select a Context for your Project. That way, by default all new Tasks that you create within this Project are assigned that Context. You can also assign Contexts to individual Tasks. For more detail, see the “Contexts” section of this Guide.
Just tap on the “Quick Add Task” field to create new tasks. Write in a name, then tap “Done” on your keyboard.
After you tap “Done” on your keyboard, a Task Detail window pops up. Estimate the Duration. If necessary, you can also change the Context so that it is different than the Project default. (For more info see “Contexts” in this Guide.)
Milestones are groups of tasks. It’s easy to create a Milestone, just drag one Task on top of another. Before you do this, you may want to create a task with the name of your Milestone. For example, “Chapter 1” or “First Phase of Project.” Then you can create new tasks inside the Milestone, or drag other tasks into it.
SmartPlans automatically assigns deadlines to your Milestones. This is calculated by looking at the Start and End dates of your Project plan, the number of hours per week that you wish to work on the Project, and the sequential location of the Milestone within the Project. Likewise, based on the same information, your Milestones will be placed in the All Day Events pane of your iPhone or iPad calendar if you choose to export Milestones under Settings -> iOS Sync.
Each Milestone indicator shows the automatically assigned deadline, as well as the number of tasks inside the Milestone:
SmartPlans can assign pop-up alerts for Milestones, based upon the automatically-assigned deadline. Just highlight the Milestone, tap on “Edit”, and select how many days in advance you wish the Alert to be triggered. Alerts are always triggered at the beginning of the day. For example, if your Milestone is due on Tuesday and you set an Alert to be triggered 1 day before, it will be triggered on Monday morning.
You can create dependencies by linking any Project to the start date of any Milestone of another Project. Creating a link converts the linked Project into a sub-Project; it will take on the color of the parent project. Linked Projects are indicated in the Gantt view by a vertical dotted line. This video clip shows how to create a link in the Gantt view.
- Notice how the color of the Project is changed to reflect that of the new “parent” Project.
- Notice how the tint of the color is also changed, to indicate that it is a sub-Project.
- Notice the vertical line that now connects the sub-Project to the Milestone in the “parent” Project.
- Notice how the “Link” button now allows you to “Unlink” at any time.
Just use the Timer to log the time you spend on each Task, and mark them Done when you are finished.
Productivity Tip: View the timer history of any timed task, just select it then tap on the Edit button.
As you complete individual Tasks in your Project Plan, you can monitor your progress at a glance:
In the picture above, each Project is represented by a Box with key information:
- Start and End dates
- % Complete
- Time to Complete
How to Read:
- In the Project called “Quick Start Guide,” you are 15% complete but you are slightly more than half way to the suggested end date. That means you are behind schedule.
- In the Project called “Great American Novel,” you are 75% complete but are only about 1/8 of the way into the time that you planned. That means you are far ahead of schedule. Congratulations!
- In the Project called “Software Development Project,” you appear to be right on schedule. Excellent planning!
- The Project called “Check List” is just a basic Task List (you selected “Free Style” when you created this Project).
Flip your iPhone or iPad sideways to see the Interactive Gantt timeline. This is your control panel for managing the complexity of multiple plans from one simple touch screen.
This video clip shows how you can view Project level and Milestone level.
There are two ways to achieve a balance of Work and Projects. To do both, just tap any Project to select it. An information panel will drop down to show you the detail of the selected Project Plan:
Then, with the Project selected, do one of the following:
- Drag it left or right to move it to an “open space” in your schedule. Notice how its related Work Balance color changes as you move it left or right.
- Or, grab one of the two ends of the Project “bar-bell” to lengthen or shorten it. This automatically increases or decreases the number of hours per week that you would spend on the Project.
- Note how you can move and re-size your Projects so that you meet your work week requirements. This is why SmartPlans is actually “Smart” – it helps you to manage multiple plans.
Use these two tools to get full control over which Projects you do when, and for how long. It’s a quick and easy way to lay out a Week, Month, or even an entire Year.
It’s good to balance your Workload evenly, week after week. But what about your Life Balance? How much of your time are you spending on Work, Family, your Spouse or Partner, your Self, on being with other people (Social), and on your Community? How much would you like to spend on each?
SmartPlans enables automatic tracking of your Life Balance through the use of Contexts. In Settings, go to Contexts where you will see the Six Life Balance contexts. you can change the names of any of these.
Set Your Goals
Then, flip your iPhone or iPad sideways and on the top toggle, select “Context”. This will show you the Context view. To set Goals for each of your Contexts, select a Context then move the slider bar up or down to adjust the relative amount of your time that you would like to spend on each Context.
Track Your Goals
When you create a new Project, assign one of the six Contexts to that Project. By default, all new Tasks that you create within that Project Plan will be associated with that Context. You can also change the Context of any individual Task.
Compare to Plan
As you use the Timer to time your Tasks, SmartPlans automatically keeps track of how much time you spend on each of the Contexts – regardless of which Projects Plans they belong to. You can compare how you actually spend your time, with how you want to spend your time.
The Timer is one of the most important features of SmartPlans. The Timer is what tracks progress of each of your Projects, as well as your Contexts. The Timer also allows you to log calls so you can keep track and bill customers. Get into the habit of using this for each and every Task that you work on – just tap the “Timer” button a the bottom of your screen.
This video clip illustrates how you can create new Timed items, re-start paused ones, pause timed items, and stop (finish) times items.
The Timer has several handy features:
Activate Anywhere, Anytime
You can activate the Timer from anywhere in SmartPlans. This is handy if you happen to get a phone call and need to just get started timing right away. Here are the three scenarios for activating the Timer:
- Select “Timer”and GoIf you are in a hurry, just tap the “Timer” button at the bottom of the screen, then hit the “Start.” The Timer will automatically create a new Task called “New Item” and it will automatically assign the default Project to that Task. You can change the name and the associated Project later.
- Select a Project Plan and GoIf you are working on a Project but don’t know what you want to call the Task, just select the Project box from your main view, then tap the “Timer” button. SmartPlans automatically creates a new Task called “New Item” and assigns it to that Project.
- Select a Task and GoYou can also log the time of any specific Task that is already in your list. Just select the Task to highlight it, tap on the “Timer” button at the bottom of the screen, then tap “Start.” It will start timing your chosen Task.
Time, Pause, Resume, Multi-Task
- You can Pause the Timing of any Task just by selecting the “Pause” button.
- You can Resume the Timing of any Task just by selecting the “Play” button.
- You can time multiple items a the same time.
- You can mark a timed Task as “Done” by selecting the “Stop” button.
“Recover” Feature: Interrupted? No problem
What happens if you are in the middle of task and you have to close your iPad and run? That’s easy. As long as you close SmartPlans (by tapping on the “Home” button on your iPhone or iPad), the next time you open SmartPlans, you will be presented with a pop-up dialog.
You can view a graphical summary of when you completed each Task in a Project. Just select the Project and tap on the “Reports” icon:
Tap “Save Snapshot” to save it as a picture in your iPhone or iPad photo gallery.
Tap on the “Export to CSV” button to save the report as a CSV-format file. It is automatically attached to an email which you can then send your self. A CSV-format file can be imported into most spreadsheets. The email also contains a snapshot of the report:
Back It Up
Just tap on the Settings button on the main screen, then select General -> Database -> Backup. This enables you to send yourself an email with your database attached. You can then restore the database simply by tapping on the hyperlink in the email – as long as it is in your iPhone or iPad’s Mail program.
You can synchronize directly with your device calendar, or via the web with Toodledo. Although you can do both at the same time, we recommend you choose just one otherwise there can be duplications of data when you are importing your tasks from both your device calendars, and from Toodledo, to SmartPad or SmartCal.
SmartPlans automatically places Milestones into the “All Day Events” pane of your iPhone or iPad Calendar. If you choose to sync Tasks also, SmartPlans will place the tasks from each Project into your calendar as events (appointments) at the specific time slot that you designate for each Project.
Before You Sync
It is important to have the calendar category “From My Mac” or “From My iPhone/iPad” showing on your device Calendar, before you attempt to sync for the first time. Otherwise, you may not see your calendars from SmartPlans, even if you can see the milestones and tasks in the actual calendar pages.
To set up your device calendar for syncing, you can either
- Sync your device calendar with iTunes on your computer, or
- Turn-off all google/exchange/iCloud calendars on your device in Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars
- Remove other Exchange, Google iCloud calendars
- Sync with SmartPlans
Then, add your Exchange/Google/iCloud calendars back in:
Setting Task Times for your Calendar
Be sure to select times for your different Projects that do not overlap. You can so this in Settings -> iOS Cal Sync. Select a Project from the list, then choose the time of day that you would like SmartPlans to insert it into your iOS Calendar. Note that each Project shows an average number of hours per day. This is based upon your settings for each Project. You can refer to this number when selecting multiple Projects so that their insertions times do not overlap. You can also select all, some, or none of your Projects for syncing Tasks. This is also handy if you wish to assign a specific time for some Projects, such as Work (daytime) or Home (evenings).
What You Should See
Milestones will appear in the “All Day Events” pane on the top of your calendar, and Tasks will appear in the time slot that you determined, in the calendar itself. In the List view, you will see both, with unique indicators for Milestone and Task.
Synchronize with Toodledo
You can also connect to Toodledo, the free online task list – and from there, you can share your Tasks and Projects with other apps including our own SmartCal planner for iPhone and SmartPad organizer for iPad.
Just go to Settings -> Synchronization to register your Toodledo account name and password. If you do not already have a Toodledo account, just tap on the link to sign up.
Now, from the main screen, tap on the “Synchronize” button each time you want to sync. That’s it!
Notes about Synchronization:
- SmartPlans automatically syncs all Projects, and all Tasks, with Toodledo. In Toodledo, Projects are called “Folders.”
- If you already have Folders with Tasks in your Toodledo account, those will automatically be synchronized over to SmartPad. Some people may find this useful. Or, you may find it helpful to keep your Projects separate from your other ToDo’s by creating a separate Toodledo account.
- Task and Project information is not transferred over to Toodledo – only the Task name and Duration.
- You can share your Tasks, and your Projects, with our own SmartPad and SmartCal if you also sync those apps to your Toodledo account. Again, Task and Project information is not transferred.
- You can share Task and Project information between SmartPlans on your iPhone and SmartPlans on your iPad. There are two ways to do this. Sync them via Toodledo, or import/export via Backup.
- Syncing via Toodledo will lose all information such as Timer status of each Task.
- If you Backup your database from your iPhone then restore it to your iPad, you will be able to retain all information such as Task and Project information, timer status, and reports.
Many people have tried to integrate project planning with integrated organizers – that is, combining the “forest”‘ with the “trees.” We’ve achieved it with SmartPlans 3.0. Here’s how you can integrate the Multi-Planning capabilities of SmartPlans with the “Smart” calendars of SmartPad (iPad) and SmartCal (iPhone).
Note: If you don’t have either of these all-in-one organizers, you should check them out. SmartPad (for iPad) and SmartCal (for iPhone) automatically schedule time for your tasks into the open spaces between your appointments in your calendar. The logic is “persistant”, meaning if you don’t mark a task as “done”, it will continue to show up in your calendar until you do it!
SmartPlans 3.0 can export all of your Project detail to your iPhone or iPad calendar. Because both SmartPad and SmartCal automatically sync with their respective device Calendars, you can view your SmartPlans Projects, Milestones and Tasks right inside SmartPad and SmartCal.
What does this mean?
Because SmartPad and SmartCal automatically look at the free time in your calendar to schedule in your tasks, and because SmartPlans converts tasks into calendar appointments, SmartPad and SmartCal are “aware” of your SmartPlans tasks and will schedule tasks from your task lists AROUND them.
What’s the difference between SmartPlans and SmartPad/SmartCal?
When SmartPlans exports to your device Calendar, it schedules your tasks onto specific days based upon the long-term requirements of each of your Projects. SmartPad and SmartCal schedule your tasks into the free time based upon the priority order and filters that you determine from your task lists.
Now, for the first time ever in any app, you can see all three types of schedule items integrated into one app: Calendar Appointments, Project Milestones & Tasks (which must be done on specific days) and Tasks from your List (which can be done any time, based upon the priorities that you assign.)
SmartPlans can sync its tasks with Toodledo, and with your device Calendar. To avoid duplication, we suggest you only sync with one. Here is the difference between the two:
Sync SmartPlans tasks with Toodledo
If you sync SmartPlans tasks to Toodledo, those tasks can then be sync’d into SmartPad and Smart Cal as general tasks. SmartPad and SmartCal will then use their logic to schedule time for these SmartPad tasks, together with all other tasks in SmartPad/SmartCal, based upon the overall priority order and filters that you apply in SmartPad/SmartCal.
Tradeoff: you will no longer be aware when your SmartPad tasks are due, and they may not be scheduled into the specific days that they need to be done – because they are integrated with all of your other tasks.
Export SmartPlans tasks with your device Calendar
As we mentioned above, exporting SmartPlans tasks to your device calendar places them into specific days based upon the start and end dates of your Project plans.
Tradeoff: SmartPlans tasks are automatically placed into your iOS calendar on specific days and at the default times that you specify for each Project. These times may or may not conflict with other appointments that you create in your device calendars.
You may want to consider syncing SmartPlans tasks with Toodledo, but syncing the Milestones with the All Day Events pane of your iOS calendar. That way, you can stil ‘be aware’ of the larger picture while giving the underlying tasks more flexibility.