021 My Chat With Michael Sliwinski: Here’s Why Nozbe Is Such A Popular Productivity Tool

December 2, 2013

nozbe-logoThink about your to-do list.  Is it paper-based?  Is it on a computer application? Is it on your smartphone?

Now imagine all the complaints you have about the system you are using.  Think about all the “wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if” features that you wished your productivity system had.

My guest today, Michael Sliwinski, did exactly that. Then he set out to create a tool that would fill in those gaps.

What happened next is truly remarkable: the app he created to solve his own problem is now ranked one of the top productivity apps available, and it has over 150,000 users when this podcast episode was released.

Nozbe, as Michael called it, is not only used by thousands of people every day, but it is also the productivity tool of choice for productivity gurus like Michael Hyatt and many others.

On today’s episode of the PM for the Masses Podcast, I ask Michael Sliwinski about his take on productivity, and all about Nozbe.

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of OmniFocus, which is a Nozbe competitor.

I asked Michael point blank why Nozbe is superior to OmniFocus.

After today’s episode, I might make the switch.  Nozbe is that good.

To listen to today’s show, click the “play” button on top of this post.

Michael Sliwinski

Michael-Sliwinski-1Michael Sliwinski is a productivity guy.

He’s the founder of Nozbe, an award-winning project management and collaboration platform (web-based with native apps for the Mac, Windows, Android, iPad and the iPhone), the editor of the Productive! Magazine and best-selling co-author of the #iPadOnly book.

To listen to my conversation with Michael, click the “play” button on top of this post.

Nozbe is on Sale

press-nozbe-logoNozbe is having a great 40% off Black Friday sale.

If you subscribe to one of the paid plans before the end of the day Monday, using this link, you will get a 40% off discount.

Link to Nozbe website

When checking out, use the discount code THANKS13.

This is good only for this Thanksgiving weekend, so you must do it today!

What Productivity Tool Do You Use?

What about you?

How do you manage your personal projects and to-do lists?

Use the fields below this post to share what is working for you.


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16 comments on “021 My Chat With Michael Sliwinski: Here’s Why Nozbe Is Such A Popular Productivity Tool

  1. Excellent interview, as usual.  I liked the tease about tighter integration with Evernote coming in December.  I also look forward to Cesar’s future productivity article in the magazine! 
    In regards to Nozbe replacing Basecamp, I could see that working if Basecamp is used for an internal team only.  The user pricing of Nozbe makes it hard to use with your customers,  as you would use Basecamp. 
    Thanks for the show.

  2. Thank you Cesar for this interview.  It is very interesting.  
    The key part that is missing in the 2001 book of David Allen is the benefits of the digital world: including team collaboration, information always accessible, and sharing information with others.  Also, maybe in 2001, most of the workflow was coming from outside the digital world.  Now it is almost the opposite.  So yes the core principles may be the same, but the implementation is transformed.  It is like writing.  The principles may be the same since using a pen and a paper.  However, it is much more efficient to write using technology.

    Just a note: my website is
    I should probably go out one day and buy the .com and redirect to .ca
    Honestly, despite all arguments about using .com, I like my .ca!

  3. JustusB Dec 3, 2013

    Hello Cesar,
    great show again, thanks a lot. In this episode you mentioned that you are using OmniFocus and Evernote and were looking for a way to combine it to one. May be I can help…
    I personally am also a big fan of GTD and Evernote and I have developed with the support of Secret Weapon Manifesto (http://www.thesecretweapon.org/) and some other ideas my own GTD within Evernote only. I have developed my own “single source of information” which handles not only my personal and professional pending tasks but also my near future and future goals and all the follow-ups I have my my team members. In addition Evernote has become my digital archive for invoices, manuals (QR codes on devices link to the Evernote notes with the pdf when scanned) and more. And the best thing is that I can use it across devices and even offline (as a premium user).
    May be something worth looking into.

  4. PM4TM Dec 3, 2013

    stephencross Stephen, thanks for that.  I know you use Basecamp and Nozbe extensively.  This is a great point on team collaboration.  When I spoke with Michael I had an internal team in mind.
    Thanks for the great feedback!
    I also know you migrated from OmniFocus to Nozbe.  Do you miss anything that you had in OmniFocus?

  5. PM4TM Dec 3, 2013

    JustusB Thank you for that comment Justus.  Do you have your system described somewhere?  Perhpaps a blog post?  It would be great to take a look.

  6. JustusB Dec 3, 2013

    PM4TM JustusB Hello Cesar. No, unfortunately I do not have any description with all the details. I actually started with the videos from the website above and then added new pieces each time I came across a new idea or I read an interesting article about productivity on the web.
    A blog I do not have either yet.. but listening to your PodCast got me inspired… I will keep you updated…

  7. My reasons for switching were not for functionality, but platform.   I’m a web developer and have both iOS and Android devices.   I often switch between them as my primary mobile platforms.  I needed a GTD product that was multi-platform.   I tried many products and nothing came close to Nozbe.  
    I currently use a Mac for my desktop, a Galaxy S4 for my primary phone, and an iPad and Nexus 7 for tablets.   The most important think in my daily workflow – my todo list is not tied to any particular hardware platform.  I think of it as the Google Mail version of GTD.    
    I was very happy with OmniFocus.  But I did feel there was more there than I needed, so I may not have used all features I could have.   I have not missed OmniFocus at all.   In fact, I feel a bit more in control with Nozbe.   Before moving to Nozbe, I tried using Evernote for my todo list.   Like you I have thousands of notes in Evernote, it is my primary note taking tool.   It didn’t work for me as a todo system, I like a todo based system where I can check things off. 
    One of the hard decisions for me when switching from OmniFocus was the investment I had made in it.  I had the Desktop, iPhone and iPad apps.   But the Nozbe licensing model works much better for me long term.  I pay an annual fee and I can use it an any number of devices and platforms I choose to.  Since I started using Nozbe in April, they have continued to evolve the product on a regular basis.   Their tech support has been very good.   
    While I’m a happy Nozbe user, I always recommend people try a product and find the one that works for them.   If OmniFocus is working for you, there is no reason to switch unless another product help you get things done better. 

  8. PM4TM Dec 4, 2013

    JustusB Justus, it would be great if you blogged about something you are passionate about… There are lots of people looking for GTD content and Evernote, so I’m sure you would have an audience.  If you need any help, or just some encouragement, I’m here for you!  Have a great day!

  9. PM4TM Dec 4, 2013

    stephencross Stephen, thanks.
    I am happy with OmniFocus but I do feel like Nozbe has some very cool features, such as Evernote integration and team collaboration.  
    I think I might sprawl my system a bit and start using Nozbe for a few projects to test it out.  
    I’m pretty much an Apple user (Mac, iPad, iPhone) so the multiplatform is not an issue for me at the moment.
    Let’s see how it goes!!

  10. BiancaWalton Jan 8, 2014

    Hi Cesar – love your podcast! Just discovered it. I loved this particular episode and wanted to respond with my experience. I’m a marketing and communications professional and I use several productivity tools to manage my life. At work I use Outlook for email/calendaring/tasks for the day-to-day. For projects at work I use Basecamp and I love Basecamp. It’s great for marketers and any business function that serves different groups of stakeholders – a bit like an agency setup. I publish my Basecamp calendars to an internal web page and share that with the company because it’s only my little marketing team that use Basecamp. My stakeholders just want top-level updates and information and NOT the detail. But I need the detail of tasks 🙂 For my personal life I mainly use Omnifocus and utilise GTD. I also use evernote, ical and iOS reminders. I was taken by the conversation about Nozbe because I’m looking for more integration between my work and personal life and I find it’s not quite that easy when you are a permanent employee because companies have existing systems and often my personal productivity tools are more capable and advanced than some of the organisation’s systems. It’s an interesting challenge I think. 

    I love your tag line – life is a project and you are the manager. My own personal goal right now is to get my blog up and running. I started metric marketing.com.au last year, wrote a couple of articles and then travelled to South America and then life got in the way. Do you have any tips you’re willing to share in how you managed the launch of your podcast/blog and how you are maintaining focus, time and motivation. If you don’t have time I totally understand.

    Muito obrigado por um podcast que é tão útil.


  11. BiancaWalton the question is not addressed to me, but I’ll give you my own thoughts.  I have a website, not a podcast.  I would just say “do something”.  there are a lot of things that you will discover along the way.  Don’t try to build the perfect design and then go live.  Post something, even a short one, at regular internal.  You will gain practices of course, and become better and writing posts.  But it will also assist you in defining what you want to do with the website, its contents and its theme.

    In all cases, website and dynamic and almost always evolve through time. And I think that is a good thing.  So no analysis paralysis, just some action! 

    And then join a community related to the subject of your blog.  And enjoy the journey!


  12. PM4TM Jan 9, 2014

    BiancaWalton  Bianca, thank you for this comment!
    Yes, I hear what you are saying… It is challenging to make your own personal system work when your company has their own, often clunky and outdated system.  
    My tip for you would be to stick with your system and what works for you, and if necessary, duplicate tasks, appointments, etc, onto your company’s system.  I would rely primarily on my own system, though.  You are doing that already when you publish your Basecamp calendar do your internal web page.  I would rather have the stress of managing two systems than relying on a system I don’t completely trust or believe in.  
    I would love to help you get started with your blog.  Here’s my challenge.  Set your blog up, and write a first post.  It can be called: My fears of not being able to maintain focus, time, and motivation – and here’s why I’m starting this anyway.”
    Do this by the end of the day on Sunday and send me a ping.  We’ll take it from there 🙂
    If you’d like a tutorial on how to start your blog the right way, check this out: http://pmforthemassescom.mystagingwebsite.com/start-project-management-blog-right-way/
    I hope you don’t mind me being pushy; I just learned that getting started is the biggest hurdle.  I want to help you get past that so we can get to the really juicy stuff.
    Looking forward to your reply! 🙂

  13. Damian Castillo Feb 25, 2014

    I am enjoying your podcast and just wanted to comment on GTD specifically.  I respect Michael for what he has accomplished but Nozbe has some serious issues for me based on the GTD Methodology.   Nozbe does not implement the core GTD principles as described in David Allen’s book.  This is fine and like Michael mentioned that there must be other people out there that think like “Michael”.  For those people, they may find Nozbe is a good fit, but for those of us who actually use GTD, we expect at the very least the core structure of GTD to be in place with any app claiming to be a GTD app.

    Nozbe does not support single task which are also known as Next Actions.   They have a Next Actions list that is actually a Focus list that shows only those task that are starred.   A starred task does not make it a next action but a focused task.   The only way to actually have single next actions in Nozbe is to create a Project.   Now I know some GTD users out there are scratching their heads right now and this is for a good reason.  The structure Nozbe uses is not true GTD.
    If you don’t mind that and are OK with working a “GTD” type app with Michael’s way of doing it, then Nozbe may be for you.  If you are looking for a true GTD app that follows what the book teaches, you will be left confused on how this app is built.

    There is no such thing as the perfect app, but when it comes to GTD, I simply look for an app that follows the teaches from David Allen.
    I personally use Zendone which does follow the GTD method although some features are currently missing.  A new version is on the horizon which I think will make it one of the best GTD apps out there.

  14. PM4TM Feb 27, 2014

    Damian Castillo  Damian, thank you for the thoughtful reply.  I agree with you, there’s no perfect app, and not even a perfect GTD app, because even within the GTD space there is wiggle room for doing things a bit differently.  
    I do want to point out that according to GTD,  “next actions” are not just  single tasks, but the next action to be taken to progress on a project.  
    I’m not 100% familiar with Nozbe – I only used it casually a few times.  
    Now, the beauty of GTD is that it is flexible enough that you can approach it from different angles and still be within the GTD ecosystem.  
    I used Zendone when it first launched, it was an webapp that integrated with Evernote and Google calendar.  How is it now?  Do you like it?

  15. Damian Castillo Feb 27, 2014

    PM4TM Damian Castillo  I agree 100%.  As I mentioned on my original post, Next Actions are single task (Not in a project) and the first actionable task that moves a project forward (In a project).  My point is that Nozbe does not support Next Actions (Single tasks) which I find very odd.  Single tasks are part of life and there are chapters in the book devoted to this.  In fact, the first introduction of what a Next Action is, has nothing to do with projects.  Later in the book projects are discussed and we learn that the first actionable task of any project is the Next Action for that project.  

    Nozbe does not support or contain “Next Actions”.  Only project next actions.   hmmmm.   Anyway, not saying that many people won’t like using Nozbe but I wonder how many of them understand this flaw is present.

    As for Zendone, they have made some great changes based on user feedback and it’s a much better app than it was 6 months ago.  It’s still missing some GTD elements like Someday list and Ticklers, but they are on their way with version 2.

    I do like that the developers listened to the users, double checked David Allens book and corrected the flaw which was also centered around Next Actions.

    I mentioned the flaw in GTD logic with Nozbe but was told that it’s the way the developer likes to do it so it will not change.  They never acknowledge that Next Actions are in fact missing from the app and that it should be fixed to support them.

    Either way, I think everyone needs to try multiple apps and find the one that fits for them.  

    Great podcast.  Keep it up.

  16. PM4TM Mar 5, 2014

    Damian Castillo Damian, I totally understand.  I will take a look again at Zendone to see what’s different.  Thanks again for the thoughtful comments!