Your to-do app does its job, keeps your lists the stuff you need to get done. Are you asking your app to do everything you need it to? Probably not. Have you chosen the best to-do app? Are there are often features that are included in apps that you are not already using but can increase your productivity and organization.
All of us are more productive when we spend less time trying to remember the things we need to do. We can then simply focus on doing the things we hold most valuable.
Notice: If you are not currently using a to-do app, I would still encourage you to check out this post. You might want to try one out in the future. If you do, let this post be your guide. I can also provide some recommended apps at the bottom of the post as well.
The Great App Search: What Was I Looking For?
I am pretty sure I have tested out every single to-do app there is. I am exaggerating, but I have certainly tested a lot of them. Why? Because testing apps is a heck of a lot more fun than actually doing the things on my lists. What was I looking for? My app.
I test Nozbe, Any.do, Wunderlist, RememberTheMilk, Evernote for to-do lists, Trello, Asana, Google Tasks, Google Keep, Google Reminders, Apple Reminders, Momentum, Clear, Things, IQTELL, Zendone, Azendoo, Gneo, Omnifocus, Todoist, Toodledo, Do.it and Habit RPG.In a world where options are plentiful, we all have the ability to find the product or service that is right for us. And why should we not look for the perfect app? The only thing holding you back from doing the same is knowing what to look for.
When I tested the apps out, I knew that I wanted a couple of key features. Secondary was the user interface and design. Manipulating colors was certainly on my list but far below my need for the app to work with my calendar. So to help you out in maximizing the potential of your to-do app, I have broken down the key things you will need to help you pick the best to-do app. Or should I say, your to-do app?
Features To Look For When You Pick The Best To-Do App
#1 Has An Inbox
This one sounds strange but you want an app to have an Inbox. A place where you can quickly dump all of the thoughts in your head. You don’t want to slow down to sort out every single task as you think of it.
#2 Can Manage Tasks Into Projects
Not all apps allow for setting up of projects. Or if they do, it is not easy to sort tasks between the projects. Just make sure yours does.
#3 Can Add Supporting Information
The last thing you want is to put something on your to-do list only to have to track down the supporting details later on. “Call plumber” works as a task as long as you can snap a picture or add the phone number directly to the task. Otherwise you are just wasting time splitting your efforts.
#4 Works Across Devices
I have an Android Phone, Macbook work laptop, and a Windows computer at home. I need an app that works across all devices. It is nice when the apps all look the same too. Some apps don’t work across all devices and some are device specific. Google Keep is Android only and Omnifocus is Apple only.
The last “must-have” feature is the ability to set tasks as date/time specific. What good is remembering to call the plumber if the only day to call is Friday? You must be notified on Friday. A tool to keep you organized and focused must be able to tell you exactly when you need to do something.
#6 Can Add Contexts
This is when you can tag a task with something like @home or @computer. That way, you can easily pull up all the lists of things to do when you are at a certain place. Contexts reach across project grouping so you can pull tasks from all of your lists that are tagged with @home. That is why I love, Nozbe. (More on that later) I tag my tasks with all sorts of things that make my life easier. I have tasks with contexts like @Schoology, @call/email, and @errands. While this is a “must-have” for me, I can see how this could be an additional feature that many might not use right away.
#7 Works With Calendar Apps
While not a “must-have”, it is a nice feature to have. My to-do app Nozbe sends my tasks so they appear on my Google Calendar. It wasn’t going to make or break an app for me, but it is certainly a nice feature to have.
#8 Works With Other Tools Like Evernote/Google Drive/Dropbox
This ties into the feature above, “can add supporting information”. Basically, Evernote functions as my digital brain so it is nice to pull in notes from there to tie in directly with a to-do list item. There are some apps that use Evernote directly, like Zendone. But I use Nozbe and simply pull in notes from Evernote when I need them. It is nice that it saves a step of having to open Evernote to do this.
#9 Email Tasks
This is a nice to have feature when you are going through your email. Some of the apps setup a personalized email address for your to-do app. When you are going through your email, simply forward any messages to your to-do app and it will appear there.
#10 Collaborate With Others
Once again, depending on your needs, this might or might not be a “must-have” feature. Basically, some apps allow you to share lists with others. This makes sense for some “task manager” apps, like Trello or Asana. For a personal to-do list, you might share the weekly grocery list but otherwise I bet your lists remain your lists. Important but probably not the most desirable when you pick the best to-do app.
Conclusion And Recommendations
It is hard to pick the best to-do app. Organization and productivity is very personal. There is no one system for everyone. Nozbe is the app I use and the one that works best for me. I can describe more in another post and show you how I use it. But let me say here that I started using Nozbe under recommendation from Michael Hyatt, worked my way though all those apps, and ended up back using Nozbe.
Nozbe is simply the best combinations of functions that I need from a to-do app. It works with all of my tools and allows me to easily categorize my tasks into projects. Everything is collected. Everything is clear. I can focus on just completing tasks. If you are just getting started, I would also recommend Wunderlist or Todoist. When you pick the best to-do app, consider the list of features here and find what works best for you!
Question: What app are you currently using? If you are using paper, what is holding you back from using an app?