In Control 2.0
Author: Kevin M. Savetz
Date: July, 1993
Keywords: software review program time management list lists application attain
Text: 1. Take out the paper & the trash. 2. Scrub kitchen floor 3. Finish cleaning up room 4. Get garbage out of sight 5a. Put on coat & hat. 6b. Walk self to Laundromat. 7. Bring in dog & put out cat. 8. Tell hoodlum friends no time to take a ride. We all make lists of things that we need to do. Some of us formalize them on paper -- others (I am told) can store them in their brains for later retrieval. Either way, keeping lists keeps us organized and helps us not to go insane.
Enter In Control: a To-Do List Manager. In Control seems simple at first: you tell it what you need to do, then it tells you what you need to do. However, the program is much more useful than just garbage-in-garbage-out. It can help the user prioritize tasks, schedule time, organize and set goals. The program shows you what needs to be done, then its up to you to do it. In Control is meant to promote successful time management. The program doesn't force you to adopt any new techniques for managing your time and goals -- it is free-form, allowing you to set up the program as you need it. The manual, which is excellent in every respect, includes a small section of time management ideas that are good advice in all circumstances, such as setting clear priorities, going over your to-do list at the start and end of each day, and so on. The manual stresses that In Control isn't simply for entering appointments and deadlines. You should also use it to record your goals. By formalizing what you wish to accomplish, you can pace yourself and track your progress. In Control can work as a simple to-do list, but it shines when used to its fullest. You can set up fields of information that suit your needs. In Control doesn't try to suit everyone with mundane fields like ''Appointment,'' ''Date,'' ''Time,'' and ''Notes.'' You can make a personalized database for your own purposes, perhaps removing ''Time'' and adding ''Contact person,'' ''Phone number,'' ''Priority,'' and ''Date assigned'' fields. it's not complicated at all -- it just means you can adapt In Control to suit your needs. Once you tell In Control your plans, you can look at the information in a variety of ways. First, as a sorted list. This is my favorite -- each item in my list has a ''date'' and a ''priority'' field. In Control sorts them by ''date'' then by ''priority.'' This way, I always know what deadlines are coming up next, and (when I have multiple tasks on one day) which items I need to attend to first. At first, it seems a bother to assign priorities to your tasks -- but it forces you to think about your goals, and hopefully you'll spend less time on low-priority or busy-work tasks and more time on what is important. The second way to look at information is as an outline. You can set up your outline any way you like: by project or client ... or whatever you can think of. Topics and sub-topics in an outline can be ''collapsed'' out of view or ''extended'' so you can see the details. Finally, you can look at your life on a good old-fashioned calendar. In Control's interface is easy-to-learn and endearing. The program's flexibility is a boon because everyone has a different way of working, and no one wants to conform to someone else's system. The manual (about 200 pages) is gentle on the reader, spreading time management tips in with the more mundane stuff. The program and manual work as they should: you can load in the program and get going, then pick up the manual later to learn the finer points of In Control. In fact, I learned everything I really needed to know from the excellent on-line help system. In only a few on-screen pages, my life moved from utter confusion to complete and total organization. (Well, nearly.) In Control is a great program, but the very experience of forcing yourself to make a list and prioritize your goals and deadlines can be daunting. When I first entered by appointments and deadlines into In Control, I saw there were 16 items on the list. I then realized that I had 16 things to do. Sometimes I'd rather not know that sort of thing. In Control can remind you of upcoming appointments or deadlines ahead of time -- say 15 minutes before a meeting down the hall, or 1 week before the rent is due. Although this is a fine idea, this is the one place that In Control fails, because the program must be running for this function to work. If you're not using In Control when your meeting reminder should ring, you miss out on the reminder... and the meeting? The program comes on one double-density floppy disk. The package also contains Dyno-Page Lite, a program that will let In Control print your schedule on the paper sizes used in Day-Timer, Filofax and other personal organizer notebooks. Even without Dyno-Page, In Control will print on ordinary paper, and utilizes color printers when available. (In my file, appointments are listed in black, and deadlines are listed in red -- thus I can easily differentiate between the two.) The application takes up a svelte 600K on disk, and runs in 600K to 800K of memory. It requires a Mac Plus or higher, and System 6.0.5 or later. The flexibility of In Control is what has endeared me to the program. The Attain Corporation offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, had I not been endeared. They offer technical support, a long-distance call to Massachusetts. Street price for the program is about $85. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take out the paper and the trash. In Control, v2.0 is available from: Attain Corp., 48 Grove Street, Somerville, MA 02144
Copyright © july, 1993 by Kevin M. Savetz