x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

App of the Week: conduct your affairs with Orchestra

Delegate your to-do lists among your contacts with this free app.

I've got a lot of stuff to do this week - tonnes of it, it seems. It all keeps piling up, new stuff on top of old stuff, despite all my best intentions.

I guess I could be more organised. I've been to the store three times in the last two weeks and I have yet to remember to buy deodorant. It's embarrassing - my coworkers are starting to shout their idle chit-chat at me from as far as 15 metres away.

Absentmindedness is a tough issue for me to face, because as soon as I admit it and reach out for help, loved ones begin assaulting me with "tough-love" gifts like they're tax deductible.

But self-help books, day planners and, with few exceptions, the vast array of smartphone productivity apps out there all fail to address one simple fact: to-do lists are only as effective as the self-selected person assigned to do them.

The app

But Orchestra (free; iPhone, iPod, iPad) is that rare smartphone productivity app that understands. It knows that what we really need isn't something that just helps us compile to-do lists; what we need is a collection of wirelessly web-connected friends, family and colleagues who will then scurry about and complete tasks for us like they're on a socially networked scavenger hunt.

The details

Orchestra allows you to type or speak directives to anyone in your contact list and then instantly send them that request via an e-mail or text message, even if they've never heard of Orchestra.

In a field test with my wife, it worked reasonably well. I simply pressed and held the bottom red button and said "go buy milk", then tapped through to my contact list and the app sent her a text message. She got the text on her own smartphone with a link that allowed her to either respond in the affirmative, or request additional info (or in this case reply with the editorial comment "go buy your own stupid milk").

The feature-rich app also allows you to assign deadlines to tasks, and will remind both the tasker and the taskee with push notifications as they approach.

It's easy to see how such an app would be an effective tool for delegating household chores among children and having them report back when their work is done, or for getting quick updates in real time when trying to organise a party or other event.

Orchestra knows that getting truly organised is a group effort, and it should work well - assuming you're part of a group that agrees.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae