Task managers are in no short supply, and there are tons of options if you want something to keep track of all the little (or big!) things you need to get done. We’ve covered them extensively here at The Sweet Setup, and whether it’s Things, Todoist, OmniFocus, Apple Reminders, or many more, there’s probably something that works for you.
Bento is technically a task manager, but it’s not exactly a replacement for any of the apps listed above. Instead, Bento wants you to think about what you must do today, add those things to a list, and use the Bento app to focus on getting them done today.
Also, you can’t talk about Bento without mentioning its design, which is just stunning! The animated artwork in the app is spectacular and goes a long way to getting you into the mindspace to do focused work. There are three different scenes you can choose from, and each one has a light and dark mode to match your preferences. It’s absolutely not following standard iOS standards, and that will surely bother some people, but it has an undeniably striking look that some will appreciate.
What is The Bento Method?
Bento is built around “The Bento Method,” which has a “pack, flow, and focus” structure where you:
- Figure out what you need to get done.
- Decide the order you’ll do those things.
- Actually focus on making those things happen.
There are no projects, tags, or notifications. There’s no inbox or weekly reviews, there’s just what you want to get done today, and that is very different from what most of the other task managers you’ll find on the App Store today. You can’t plan your life in Bento, but you can use it to help you focus on what you really want to get done today.
You can read more about the method here.
The general idea of Bento is that at the start of your work day, you’ll think about what you need to get done that day (you may even find these things in your main task manager) and you’ll pick three of them that you absolutely want to get done. The app encourages you to select one small task, one medium-sized task, and one large task that you’ll get done today.
Bento also makes you think about what order you’ll do your tasks, and tries to get the order that makes the most sense for how you work. Maybe you’re really productive in the morning, but lose steam later in the day. In that case, you may want to use their “eat the frog” workflow, which starts you off with the biggest task and then you work your way down to the smaller ones. Or maybe you are the total opposite and you need to build up to intense work. In that case, you’d want to use their “slow burn” workflow to start small and get to the big thing last. You can do whatever you want, but I’ve found that just thinking about the order I do things helps me get ready mentally for what I’ve got to do that day.
Once you’re doing the three things on your list, you can tap the arrow button next to each task to start a pomodoro-style timer that clears everything else off-screen and starts some calming music. I do wish the music was more varied (the same song repeats for as long as you’re working) and the time on the timer was a bit bigger so it was easier to read at a glance.
Again, this may not work for you, and that’s okay. Bento definitely feels like an app that’s made to appeal to a specific type of person, and that’s great! Apple Reminders needs to work for most people, but third-party apps get to play around at the margins a bit more.
Bento feels very much like a 1.0 release in many ways. Its feature list is relatively short and a few things feel like they could be refinded in the future, but it’s a good start, and I hope that it gets enough traction to warrant the team spending time to make it even better.
Bento is available for the iPhone only (Android coming soon, per the developers) for a one-time purchase of $5.99.