Pen and paper might be the ultimate when it comes to keeping track of tasks or making a to-do list. But smartphone apps have come a long way over the last couple of years. In fact, one could argue that they are becoming the more common way to keep track of what needs to be done. I use a mixed bag approach. Sometimes I do need the physical paper list in front of me. I get a lot of pleasure out of being able to cross something off the list. But I also use an app or two to help me with this as well. I personally look for apps that work on my iPhone and my Macbook. I find the handoff feature extremely important.
But, that doesn’t mean that what I’m using is correct. There are a ton of factors that go into deciding which app to use. Some factors include pricing, design, ease of use, cross-platform support and some might want to look at other features. As far as other features go, it could be natural language support, voice commands, attaching notes, sharing tasks etc. So what apps have we tried? And what works best for me? Find out below:
This particular app stands out, mostly for its unique take on task management. For better and worse, it doesn’t display tasks the way other apps do. Rather than use different lists as the main way to organize your life (“home,” “work” and so on), Any.do defaults to showing what you need to get done today, tomorrow, further out (the next week, say) and “someday.” Naturally, you can put items into different lists as well, but the main interface is designed around managing what you said you wanted to get done today, regardless of whether it’s a personal item or something from your work list.
I definitely like the “someday” feature, as I have a bunch of things piling up and this kind of gives me the motivation to get working on them. Any.do works well alongside your calendar. It will show your appointments and to-do items next to each other. And, if you’re like me, and you have a hard time checking off everything you need to do, there is something called “Any.do Moment”. It gives you a rundown of your day and lets you reassign the incomplete tasks to a different day.
Things is an app that I like as well. The downside is that it’s only for Apple devices. While that is a deterrent for some, the cost is another big factor and certainly is an issue. It’s kind of weird, in that there are separate apps for each device. The Mac app costs $50, while the iPhone and iPad apps are $10 and $20 each. If you can make it past these issues, then you’ll find that it’s an extremely powerful, but streamlined task management app. From a pure design standpoint, Things is delightful. The typeface is large and easy to read, without taking up too much space. Tasteful animations abound without distracting you from your tasks. Subtle visual clues let you see how far you’ve gotten through a larger project. The whole thing feels polished and is just a lot of fun to use.
But there are also a lot of organization options as well. At a high level, you can have basic to-do items, but you can also add sup-areas called projects. I use these to group to-dos under a single header. For example, I have an area called “work” that has some more straightforward items like “finish expenses”, and then bigger sub-tasks that might have multiple steps.
Todoist and Wunderlist
I’ve grouped these together because I feel like both of these show up on everyone’s favorite “to do” app list. Both work on just about every device — in addition to the standard iOS and Android apps are Chrome extensions and apps, Windows 10 and Mac apps for Todoist, good Apple Watch support for both. here’s even a Todoist Safari extension! Neither app is quite as granular as Things, but you can still lay out projects with to-do items nested below; each of those items can have subtasks as well.
Wunderlist was purchased by Microsoft back in 2015, and as such, they are piloting a new app to replace Wunderlist. So, my recommendation between these two apps is Todoist, unless you don’t mind switching in the near future. That said, Todoist is $28.99 for an annual subscription, making it a more affordable option. Its organizational system can be as simple or as complex as you want — projects hold to-do items, which in turn can have as many subtasks as you want to add. And you can make a folder of projects to add another layer to your organization system if you’re so inclined.
With so many to-do apps out there, it’s hard to choose just one. Sometimes the fanciest or most expensive app really isn’t the one that you should want, or choose. That said, which one do you find the most useful? Did it make our list?