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Our First Impressions about Tana, the App that Pretends to Revolutionize the Productivity World

Author: Paco Cantero

Tana’s become the new “cool app” in the productivity world related to knowledge and project management.

It seems so good to be true…

In this post, we’ll share our first impressions after installing Tana less than 24 hours ago.

Let’s dive in!


GUI/UX

Tana’s GUI is simply gorgeous, beautiful, and really nice.

You want to use this app!

The typos, the structure, the background colors, how you can use colored tags, how the bullets get colored whenever you tag them, how the tips appear on the screen… Everything seems perfectly thought, designed, and implemented.

Talking about the UX, first, we have to say we have previously watched all kinds of videos out there before installing the app, and we (at the Paperless Movement®) are used to outliners, such as Roam or Workflowy.

As productivity geeks, we’re used to knowledge management tools such as Obsidian or Mem, databases apps such as Notion, and an infinite number of project/task managers, such as 2Do, Omnifocus, or Things, among many others.

We say this not to brag but to give you context about our first impressions talking about UX.

We could state Tana’s not something intuitive if you’ve never worked with those types of tools.

If you’re not in that situation, you’ll start to feel really nice inside Tana, looking forward to taking the best out of all the amazing features this app has.


Outlining Experience

Inside the Team Paperless Movement®, there are people who love outlining because it’s literally how they think.

Talking about Paco Cantero, for example, outliners help him develop his thinking as a writer, an entrepreneur, a person who loves to structure his thinking, how he communicates and organizes things.

The power of Tana as an outliner is amazing because it has taken the best of many apps such as Roam or Workflowy.

After trying Tana, Paco says:

I’ve been a Workflowy avid user for quite a long time, and I’m “so sorry” to say Tana covers all my needs. In fact, it goes far beyond talking about GUI/UX and all the possibilities I can expand. Tana uses the same keyboard shortcuts as Workflowy’s, something essential for me because I love using my keyboard to move things up and down, collapse or open items, and never lose my flow or momentum.


Project/Task Management

We’re beginning to study how we can implement Tana as a project/task manager in our workflows.

In Paco’s case, his workflow is perfectly defined and implemented, combining the power of 4 main apps: ClickUp, Akiflow, Mem, and Due.

Today, he can tell you this:

  • Tana cannot replace ClickUp. ClickUp as a shared project manager is so powerful that it belongs to another category of apps. I do think Tana’s position is not that one.
  • I see it quite difficult for Tana to replace Akiflow, a specialized app (satellite app, as we call them in the Paperless Movement®) in time blocking, and a discovery I just made a few months ago. It’s one app I’m starting to fall in love with the more I use it. It has such powerful strengths because these guys have studied so well and deep the workflow. I cannot say but “Well done, Akiflow crew!”. I think I’ll dedicate an article to this amazing and quite “unknown for many” app because I can see it can change many people’s lives. In fact, it did mine!
  • Tana cannot replace Due. Due has no rival when it comes to reminders. It’s an app I’ve been using for many years, constantly evolving, making reminders so powerful that I can alleviate many other apps of my system’s architecture, avoiding cluttering them.
  • Mem’s world is where Tana competes really well, and that’s what I’ll talk about in the next section.

Note-taking App

As a note-taking app, Tana seems to work pretty well. We do think it feels comfortable because it really shines.

Tana will be disruptive in the PKM (knowledge management) world. We have no doubt about it.

As a first example, everyone who loves outlining will feel comfortable with Tana.

You can use Tana for many activities, such as journaling, taking all kinds of notes (meetings, thoughts, reflections, anything you want to write down to recall later on), scripting, and so forth.

The beauty of this app is that it has created a new dimension moving from the note-taking or information world (knowledge management) to the action world (project/task management) thanks to concepts like “Supertags”.


Supertags

First off, Tana has made subtleties related to the familiar concept of tags.

They’ve become a “is a” relation. We mean, if you tag a node (Tana’s basic level of information) with a tag, it means that node “is” that tag.

For example, if you tag a node as “script”, it means that node “is a” script.

We know this could mean nothing at this moment for you, but it’s a really powerful step ahead because the thing goes beyond: you can add fields to a tag!

This means the beginning of Tana’s connection to the world of databases.

Fields allow you to add additional information to a tag. That’s why Tana calls its tags as “Supertags”, because it’s “a tag with fields”.

Following the example above, if you have a tag called “script”, you can add fields such as “status” to represent the status of that script (draft, edit, published) or any other you may think to add more information to that tag.

With this twist, a tag becomes kind of what’s call a “table” inside a database.

We know this can become “nerdy” for many people, but you don’t need to know what a database or a table is to start using it. You just need to understand the concept and start looking for ways to take advantage of it.

This “supertag concept” makes Tana different from any other app because it allows the user to start managing information inside an outliner as if you were inside a database, which is simply outstanding!

Chapeau for these guys!


Conclusions

Tana is still in early access, not even having a mobile app, so you can guess how “early” it is.

You can start using it as an outliner or note-taking app and, little by little, start discovering and implementing all of its potentials.

We see it pretty easy and straightforward to start using Tana for knowledge management: journaling, taking notes, meeting notes, scripting, and those type of features.

Going to project/task management, you have to dedicate more time, effort, and energy to thinking about how you can implement your workflow because it’s not as intuitive as the knowledge management we mentioned above.

However, we see quick things you can do since day one, such as using Tana as an inbox to write down quick things you need to do you don’t want to forget.

Later, you process that inbox and move those items to your project/task management workflow and software.

Tana can help you unclutter the main apps you use for project/task management. That way, you gain clarity in your main apps.

We’ll try that now because this is not about replacing anything but complementing and improving what you have already.

Don’t worry that, sooner or later, each app earns its position in your workflows depending on how you think.


Takeaways

To summarize, Tana offers you all this:

  • Note-taking.
  • Outlining.
  • Project/Task management (although we’d prefer to say just “task management”).
  • Knowledge management, not only using links and backlinks but also databases management thanks to their “tag/supertag” concept.
  • And, on top of all that, a “beautiful-minimalistic-gorgeous” GUI really nice to enjoy daily.

Is Tana a product built for the masses? We’re not sure yet.

That combination of outlining plus features related to database management can seem nerdy at first sight, but we think Tana’s team has made a huge effort to develop a pretty user-friendly implementation. If you compare, for example, how Obsidian manages meta-data, Tana’s a child’s game compared to Obsidian.

As productivity geeks we are who have dedicated decades to optimizing processes and implementing productivity software solutions, this can be kind of subjective, but it’s you who should determine if this is something easy to digest or a pain in the ass.

In your life, apps have to help you, not create obstacles.

You’re the one who knows best how you feel at the end of the day.

For us, just using it for 24 hours, Tana equals power and simplicity.

And, what about you?

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