Up till now I have used the following to-do list apps and other tools to manage my tasks lists:
- Todoist (still using it)
- Google Keep (still using it)
- Evernote (still using it)
- Google Calendar (still using it)
- Google Tasks
- Remember the Milk
Before I go on with sharing my insight with you about which to-do list apps and task management tools I have used so far, I would like to stress on the point that it is not the to-do list app or tool that helps you achieve your tasks, it is your own resolve. These apps and tools just help you organize yourself but if there is no zeal inside you to complete your tasks, no type of to-do list app or tool is going to help you, and this is my personal experience. What would we do without apps? I mean, I guess we could try the old fashioned way of writing everything all down, but we don’t always carry around a pen and paper, whereas we have our phones with us all the time. It’s just a lot easier. As I use apps a lot for many things, I have always thought about how amazing it would be to create my own app! I knew a few people who do this for a living and it seems so cool. I’ve even taken it upon myself to look into the idea of how to create a ux portfolio, just for my own knowledge. You never know, maybe one day, I will decide to create my own app. But for now, I’ll leave it to the professionals
Now on with the topic of the post.
Todoist – available on Android as well as iOS
So far this is the best to-do list app I have ever used. Not because it has lots of features; it has just what I need. Todoist is very simple, devoid of all the bells and whistles that come with other to-do list apps and web services. The best thing is that it uses natural language to help you schedule your tasks. For example, if you enter something like “Remember to do this at 11:30 pm tomorrow” the time and the date are automatically set for the task entry.
They have the complete documentation on how you can use natural language to not just schedule your task entries but also schedule them in such a manner that they automatically get added to particular days and at particular times.
It is very easy to drag and drop entries (provided they are not sorted by time). You can define projects and in those projects you can go on adding different tasks.
If you’re looking for a flexible to-do list app that gives you one of the most advanced features in the simplest manner, I would highly recommend Todoist.
The only nag is that the moment you mark a task completed, it vanishes from the list of tasks you have created for today. I like to see my progress. I have repeatedly told their team to add this feature or at least add the option so that whoever wants to see completed tasks can see them and those who don’t want to see them can hide them, but there hasn’t been a positive response from their side. Still, it is so far the best to-do list app I have used, both on my computer and my mobile phone.
Google Keep – available both on Android and iOS
Update: I have realised (July 2, 2016) that Google Keep is much better for day-to-day task management compared to other apps and tools because one, it’s very easy to manually drag individual notes and arrange them according to your preference, and two, the searching is very fast. For example, if you create a list note (in which you can define your tasks for the day) and name it “July 2, 2016” the moment you start typing “July” in the search box, all the notes containing “July” start appearing so you can quickly find the task list of a particular day. For your daily use, I have concluded, Google Keep so far, is the best app from all angles.
Google Keep is not a to-do list app but it can be used as one. It is a notetaking app, but you can create task-lists. In the beginning I remember when you marked a particular task as “done” (checked the checkbox) there would be a strikethrough and the task would remain there. Now as soon as you complete a task it goes to the bottom of the list. A bit inconvenient, but at least you can see the completed tasks immediately.
Evernote – available both on Android and iOS
Evernote is the most advanced notetaking app in the market. Nothing matches it, although whether you use it or not depends on your personal preference. For taking notes I use a mix of Google Keep and Evernote but there have been times when I have used Evernote also to keep track of my tasks. I would create date-based notes and then add task lists to those notes. In Evernote when you mark a particular task “done” it is struck through and it remains there. The only problem with Evernote is you cannot organize notes based on dates and times.
Google Calendar – available both in Android and iOS
Google Calendar of course is not a to-do list app; it’s a scheduling app. Many time management experts have repeatedly started claiming that a calendar app is much better than a to-do list app but then it differs from person to person. Just like you add tasks in a to-do list app, in Google Calendar, you add events. Assigning time to particular tasks increases your efficiency rather than simply adding them to a to-do list.
A great advantage of using Google calendar is that you can create reminders and goals also.
Wunderlist – Available on Android, no idea about iOS
If I didn’t have Todoist, I would stick with Wunderlist. It has a very elegant user interface. The way you use it is similar to how you use Todoist but only in an attractive manner. I prefer Todoist because of its minimalistic interface but otherwise, I would have no problem using Wunderlist.
If I’m not wrong, Google Tasks is no longer available, although you can define tasks in Google Calendar. Or maybe it is available through Gmail. It was even more minimalistic than Todoist, in fact, so minimalistic that it was boring. It was as if the developers of Google Tasks had no emotional interest in the app and they just wanted tasks to be completed, and that’s it. But it was good.
A good thing about Google Tasks was that it could be integrated with other task management apps just like Google Calendar. Google Calendar entries can be managed with almost every stock calendar app that comes with different mobile phones and tablets. The same was the case with Google Tasks.
Any.do – available both on Android and iOS
Any.do isn’t bad as a to-do list app but there was so much hype around it – the best looking to-do list app in the world, and so on – that it was quite off-putting, especially when it isn’t even as good-looking as Todoist despite Todoist’s minimalistic user interface. Any.do does everything that contemporary to-do list apps do. Maybe it looks the best in iOS but I have never checked. Again, it depends on your personal preference.
Remember the Milk – available both on Android and iOS
Remember the Milk is one of the oldest to-do list management services available on the Internet and in fact, it could easily be the oldest, although I’m not sure of that. Anyway, it was the first ever to-do list management service that I used when I felt that the paper notebook wasn’t doing for me. Remember the Milk became available when there were no smartphones; you would just log into their website and enter the tasks you wanted to complete. Even in the earlier days it used the natural language to organize your tasks. Time management gurus would vouch for it all the time
Somewhere along the way, it lost its advantage of being the first. It couldn’t keep up with other to-do list apps like Todoist, Wunderlist and Any.do. People still use it especially those who have been using it since the beginning but I never seriously used it. I mean, I must have used it for a week or so but it couldn’t make me stick with it.
So the only to-do list app that I have stuck to for more than a couple of years is Todoist. I have even used their premium service but after a year of using the premium service I realised that I wasn’t using the features available in the previous service so I reverted back to the free version. I don’t even notice that I no longer use the premium version.
Update: Nick from Drag, after reading this blog post, asked me to have a look at a new Google Chrome extension that his new start-up has created. It is called Drag.
Drag is not a standalone to-do list management app. It is a Gmail add-on if I’m not wrong.
Once you have installed the extension it arranges your inbox in three vertical columns namely “To-Do”, “Doing” and “Done”. This suddenly happens so you may panic for a few seconds but nothing drastic has happened. The moment you switch off the extension, things are back to normal.
The Drag Chrome extension assumes that you use your email inbox for lots of work related stuff. Since its email, so most of the time, email -related stuff involves reading emails, deciding to reply, and then replying. Right now, I couldn’t see any way of using it the way one would use Todoist for specifically managing tasks. It is for managing emails. As the name Drag suggests, you can drag around your messages to these columns so that you can better manage your inbox. It’s actually useful, once you get over the initial shock of an altered inbox arrangement.