Who Knew a Taco Could Change Your Productivity? [Review]



Despite the weird name, Taco is a web app that unifies all of your task lists and services into a single spot. It actually proves to be more useful than it does at first glance in a few different ways. I’ve found Taco to be useful in the way it was intended to be, but I also found another area that Taco can dominate too. This is why I’ve decided to breakdown this review into two different sections, how it was intended and how it can be expanded upon.

Managing Tasks with Taco

Definitely the way Taco was intended to be used is for prioritizing your task list amongst many different projects and services and in this regard Taco is outstanding. There is a huge list of services (over 30) that Taco connects to including Basecamp, Producteev, Things, and Asana. It also works with your email services via Gmail or Exchange. What makes Taco even cooler is that developers/web-masters using GitHub and UserVoice [amongst similar services] can connect to Taco and drag user submitted bugs and suggestions into their list.

Taco Compatible Services
Taco Compatible Services

Connecting Accounts & Getting Tasks

Connecting my services with Taco was an easy experience for the most part – just log in and allow access through the third-party service. The experience is similar to authorizing Twitter to work with a third-party app. A few services like Instapaper were a bit more difficult where you have to actually grab a folder link, but Taco explains how to easily do that.

Taco Authorizing Evernote
Authorizing Evernote for Taco

When importing tasks from a .txt file you can upload it to Dropbox or your own web server and give Taco the link. The one downside I experienced with using .txt files in Taco is it seems to be on some sort of “check for updates in X amount of time” process that the user has no control over. I gave up checking back after an hour, but the updated tasks were added the next morning. However, my only real issue with Taco was when it came to Evernote. After connecting it was understood that you must have a note with checkboxes for them to appear within Taco. The problem is that no matter how many notes or custom tags setup within Taco/Evernote I couldn’t get them to sync with each other. I don’t really know how many people use Evernote to keep a to-do, but for what it’s worth it didn’t really work out.

Performance

Other than the Evernote bug and long .txt updates, Taco works like a charm. You can drag in tasks from your “For Later” sidebar list and check them off when you’re done. I especially like how Taco gives you the option to also check off a task inside of your connected app. This makes it easy so I can be done with a task for good. I also appreciate the minimalistic interface, it’s quite beautiful! The included themes/backgrounds are wonderful and the ability to add your own image/color is nice too. The only slight issue with adding your own image is you don’t have any options to make it repeat or align, but that’s just nitpicking.

Taco - Up Next / To-Do View
Taco Home Page

I need to mention the importance of Taco’s Chrome extension as it adds a whole other dimension of use. Instead of having to check Taco’s website to see my tasks, I can simply see the list in every new tab/window, which makes your to-do right in your face when it needs to be. Just try to start an untimely Facebook session without that guilt of tasks waiting to be completed – it won’t happen!

Suggestions To Improve Tasking

I do have a few suggestions for Taco to improve their tasking function. Allowing users to break up tasks into two or three namable columns would be perfect. This way I could name the columns something like “Today”, “Tomorrow”, “Weekend/Extras”. That would really boost productivity for someone like myself who likes to plan in advanced. This would be something ideal in the options panel so that users who prefer a single column can leave it that way. Other than that maybe the ability to add a single tag that would appear on the right of a task would be nice. This way I can categorize a task by the type of work such as “writing”, “coding”, “home”, etc. Oh and please do add the background options!

Taco Theme Options
Current Taco Theme Options

Expanding Upon Taco

Taco was made for managing multiple to-do lists. I completely understand that, but I can see it being a multi-use web app that could multiply their user-base. I think Taco could be put to excellent use by someone who either writes or likes to consume content, perhaps even someone looking for a Google Reader alternative. Taco has the ability to connect with two services (well really one service and a protocol) that barely have to do with tasks, Instapaper and RSS, and that really teases this idea. With Taco’s slick interface it seems too perfect to not capitalize on this market as well.

To paint the picture, a tech writer can save articles from Instapaper or browse their RSS feeds for topics they can curate into their own articles. Adding those articles from their “For Later” to “Up Next” list and checking them off as they write their new articles. I can especially see this being useful when I browse for ThinkDope’s inspiration content by adding my RSS feeds of art, new music, articles from design sites, etc. Checking each one of these consumption-related tasks would bring me more motivation to do it as well. After I write my article I check them off my “Up Next” list. Plus anyone who likes to consume any type of content on the web will find this extremely useful!

Taco - As A Content Curator
Taco Keeping Track of Hip Hop Feeds

The Improvements Needed For This

There really isn’t much Taco needs to do to dominate this market. The unfortunate part of wanting to use Taco this way is that they currently only allow one RSS feed to be imported at a time. There is a difficult way you can get all your RSS feeds into one with third-party services, but if Taco allowed you to import multiple feeds from your favorite sites, curation resources, blogs, etc. it would open up a whole world of users alone. It appears that Taco does have the capability to handle multiple RSS feeds! There’s a link another section that I must of missed.

The other big thing Taco needs to do is to add another service or two like Instapaper. My recommendation would be Pocket, because these type of similar services allow users to save everything they see and want to “read later” on the Internet. Using a phone/tablet to bookmark through these services while relaxing means I can add them to my “Up Next” Taco list later when I goto work. Even just fixing the Evernote connection so that we can grab clips and such would work perfect too.

Also adding my columns idea from the previous section would be useful here too because it would allow people to use Taco both as a task list and a content consumption app. Double the usability, quadruple the user-base!

As I said in the beginning I think Taco is outstanding. In fact, I give it an A. It’s beautiful, clean, and useful. Although my primary way of to-do lists remains with sticky notes, I will work with Taco in my blank tab to help with more browser-related tasks (perhaps allowing me to focus on social media tasks). I hope Taco considers my position to turn this awesome web app into a must-use – oh and Taco you can hire me.

What do you think about Taco? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments.

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About Garett Southerton

Garett Southerton works as a web & graphic designer, audio engineer, writer, and brand consultant with clients from all over the world. He runs a design & recording studio based in New York and has a passion for all things art in addition to helping others learn how to create.

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One Response to “Who Knew a Taco Could Change Your Productivity? [Review]”

  1. Hi Garett,

    I started Taco, so thanks for diving in and for the great comments! I had a few corrections or clarifications:

    1. Regarding “it seems to be on some sort of “check for updates in X amount of time” process that the user has no control over,” the user has full control over that by clicking the “Sync” icon (upper right menu). Also, we just added automatic hourly syncing while you’ve recently used Taco and daily while you’re not, so now most users will never need to click that.

    2. Regarding Evernote, “it was understood that you must have a note with checkboxes for them to appear within Taco,” that’s actually not the case. Taco supports both checkboxes as tasks and notes as tasks (and any evernote.com search, like to filter by tag or notebook).

    These work great but they’re only as good or bad as Evernote’s own search grammar. To make that easier, Taco now shows an error when a user provides an invalid Evernote search.

    3. The other item is a clarification: we’ve tried really hard to make Taco lead to actual productivity, not what I call productivity theater. Using myself as an example, I don’t have a team of assistants, so there’s just one of me. A 20-item “prioritized” list of stuff to do, or 5 of them in different categories (tomorrow, next week), isn’t making me more productive, it’s just distracting me from what I really need to do: figure out what to work on now. Unless or until capacity is elastic, planning beyond that – giant ordered lists, made-up deadlines – is just distracting from actually allocating time.

    So, that’s why Taco focuses very specifically on things which actually need to happen, and deliberately avoids becoming a giant someday/maybe wish list. Even with Instapaper, we strongly suggest syncing a non-default Instapaper folder; the main one doesn’t belong in Taco (any more than any other list of things you might want to do in spare time). It’s a bit off topic, but IMO, the question “What fun, relaxing, entirely optional thing should I do right now?” is best answered by emotion rather than practicality 🙂

    Finally, if anyone tries Taco and encounters questions or isn’t sure what’s possible, please do say hi in the app or in support@ — we’re happy to help 🙂

    Reply

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