App

Organize your life like U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower using Focus Matrix for iOS

Price: Free
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 42.3 MB
Platform: iPhone/iPad
Developer: Denys Yevenko

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President Eisenhower had a unique approach to getting things done (GTD), based on a system he devised called the Eisenhower Decision Principle. His thesis, that tasks should be completed based on their urgency and importance (two independent strands which shouldn’t be confused), forms the basis of Focus Matrix: a new iOS application that takes a presidential approach to the problem of GTD.

In Focus Matrix, the aim is to place your items into one of four categories. This is designed to make it easier when it comes to prioritizing the right one.

In Focus Matrix, the aim is to place your items into one of four categories. This is designed to make it easier when it comes to prioritizing the right one

When you launch Focus Matrix, you’re confronted with four quadrants, and these are taken right out of Eisenhower’s method: “important and urgent,” “important and not urgent,” “not important and urgent,” and “not important and not urgent.” This priority matrix allows iPhone owners to see, at a glance, the tasks which should be completed first, and the ones which are less pressing. But how does it work in actual use?

There are multiple UIs available, like this one, which is more minimalistic than the default.

There are multiple UIs available, like this one, which is more minimalistic than the default

To start, adding new tasks is simple enough. The interface is a little rudimentary compared with the likes of OmniFocus 2 and Wunderlist, but the basics are there: users can give a name for their task, they can add notes, set a due date, and even add tags. Plus, and most importantly, users can also choose a section for this task to appear in.

The app also lets users ditch the matrix outright, opting instead for this list interface.

The app also lets users ditch the matrix outright, opting instead for this list interface

Your choice then determines where the new to-do item is placed in Eisenhower’s four-quadrant grid. After placing a few items in Focus Matrix, you begin to get a clearer idea of the tasks you need to prioritize and the ones which can be deferred.

For a price, users can unlock pro features including cross-device sync and integration with the iOS Calendar app.

For a price, users can unlock pro features including cross-device sync and integration with the iOS Calendar app

Along the bottom of the screen, Focus Matrix includes some additional options for users t take advantage of. First, there’s a Filters page, and this allows iPhone owners to filter items based on associated tags. Then there’s a Search page, which works exactly how you’d expect. Last, users can also tweak the user interface (UI) on offer in Focus Matrix, either by removing grid lines or scrapping the four quadrants interface entirely.

Inputting new items is simple, and features the usual options for users to configure.

Inputting new items is simple, and features the usual options for users to configure

For folks willing to upgrade to the $2.99 (£2.29) “pro” version of Focus Matrix, there’s cross-device sync, integration with the iOS Calendars app, and it’s of course ad-free. In the free version of Focus Matrix, banner ads appear along the bottom of the screen.

Smart gestures make it easier to navigate around the app, too.

Smart gestures make it easier to navigate around the app, too

Using Focus Matrix as your main GTD iPhone app might be confusing — especially if you’re coming from a more traditional app like OmniFocus. In particular, differentiating between urgency and importance can be tricky. Can a task which is urgent ever not be important, too? There are also a few more minor problems with Focus Matrix which might put you off: the fonts in the app, for instance, and its overall design might leave you feeling a little disappointed. The aesthetics here aren’t great.

But if, on the other hand, you’re looking for an interesting, novel approach to GTD, take Focus Matrix for a spin and see if it fits your lifestyle. After all, it’s free to try and it could be exactly what you’re looking for.

 

Review: Focus Matrix - A Get Things Done app based on President Eisenhower's approach
It's a useful app, but one which takes some getting used to. Because of this, you might prefer to stick with the GTD app you're already familiar with.
For
  • Unique approach to GTD
  • Multiple UIs
  • Free to download
Against
  • Poor design
  • Difficult concept
3.0Overall Score