I'm a sucker for 'To Do' lists. Much like the axiom 'if it's not on Facebook, it didn't happen,' I believe a task doesn't exist until it's on a piece of paper. We all know paper is old-school, but lists come with dangers that have been well documented: they can overwhelm you to look at, priorities get lost, you're continuously adding them so never feel any sense of completion, work and personal tasks get mixed, etc. But they can also help keep you on track, allow you to brain-dump ideas so you can move on without feeling like you'll forget things and reinforce good behaviour, if you get it right.
In my quest to 'not be a dinosaur' and drop paper lists altogether, I set out to find an app that I could stick to using... 3 months later and I can say that I have successfully accomplished both.
My criteria were as follows:
- mobile app, so I could use it on the go.
- includes a web-based version for working on my laptop.
- inexpensive, free or no more than $5 per month.
- easy to use, assign timelines, share with others if required.
- pleasing interface that lets me visualize my workload.
I ended up downloading a dozen apps to my iPhone, but quickly deleted a few that didn't have a web-version, seemed clunky, or just weren't visually appealing. Of the ones I kept and used for 3 months, here are my picks, in order of preference:
Any.DO This is my favourite one, I've been using it for months and it's part of my daily routine. Simple task categories allow you to add sub-tasks, notes, reminders, share and assign. The UI is great, which is why it's stuck for me. My favourite thing is the ability to delay reminders with preset times or a last resort 'someday' option. Free Plan. Monthly $2.99 / Annual $26.99.
Google Keep Surprise, this one is really great... and free! Clean user-interface, simple to use, and does everything you want it to. You can group tasks, create sub-tasks, add reminders, share, color-code items, link images or attachments, and it syncs seamlessly between web and smartphone app. And it has a fun drag-and-drop function for organizing items. Free, no plan or paid version.
Trello If you like sticky notes, you'll love this one. It allows you to create tiles and manage them kanban board style, with To Do, Doing, and Done categories for tasks to move through. It's flexible, letting you assign items to people, filter, add reminders, and colour-code. It also features integrations with SurveyMonkey, ZenDesk, join.me, and more. Free Plan. Business $8.33/mo. Enterprise $20.33/mo.
Evernote I've tried to get on the Evernote bandwagon a few times, but never seem to stick with it. It's great for saving information or writing on-the-go, but as a task list I find it like using Microsoft Word to create a To Do list. It does have easy to use task functions: add, schedule reminders, share, etc., but I get lost in the layers of text and end up struggled to keep using it. Free Plan. Personal $29.99/yr. Premium $56.99/yr.
Todoist This one is pretty popular, especially for smartphones, but I didn't really dig it. Fairly easy to add tasks and create reminders, and it has a nice calendar view that gives you a snapshot of the day or week ahead, but I found it a bit sterile like using Outlook's task list function. I'd give it a pass over any of the others on my list. Free Plan. Business $3/mo.
Asana This one came highly recommended by a few colleagues, but it seems like it is intended more for group project work than a simple tool for getting on top of your week. That said, it has some nice functionality above the usual task list: a team calendar, team conversations, and attaching files. I'd personally opt for something more powerful, like Jira, if this is the route you're after. Free Plan. Teams: $5.47+/mo per person.
Is there a task list app that you love? Drop a comment and let us know about it... or if you have any thoughts on any of these apps.