|Some people (if you’re lucky, you’re one of them) exist in a natural tidy state. This could mean that their home or office space is always organized and dusted. This could mean that they get that haircut meticulously at the six week mark. For others, this means that their daily lives are coolly regimented with a few helpful phone or calendar reminders while they move from task to task in a seemingly effortless way. I would guess that isn’t most people, which is why there is currently a booming trend of helping people gather together what needs to get done and then give it back in a way that is easy to view, easy to manage, and then easy to check off.
There’s a certain power to lists. Accountability rises once something is put down in writing. Lifehack.org breaks down the “essential” lists as being those that are action lists (a list of single tasks you can get through in one sitting), project lists (either a list of all your ongoing projects or a list of all the steps needed in one project), running lists (a list you add to as you go and can refer to as needed, such as a list of books to read or movies to see), and template lists (a list you can re-use for projects that happen again and again). Obviously, lists can exist in any format, whether you’re jotting them down on a Post-It or creating that list of restaurants in your city that you are determined to try in Google Docs.
The simplicity of the list is its power. However, some may find that a list floating in cyberspace is ignored and a scrap of paper is easily lost. That’s why today there are people turning to two very popular ways of keeping order in their lives: the organizational “to-do” app and the customizable daily planner.
Since you’re likely the type of person who has your phone on you 24/7, it might make sense for you to keep your to-do list with you on the go. There are a myriad of apps that can fill that in with you, and it might take you a little bit of research until you find the one that is the best fit for you. You might even find that it makes sense to check in every once in a while and see what new ones have popped up; technology is ever-evolving and something new might fit your goals and lifestyle even better than the one you thought was the best before.
When evaluating an app, there are several factors you might want to consider. These include things like pricing, ease of use, design, support across multiple platforms and third-party services, and then the more specific things that’ll suit your personal usage, such as attaching files, voice commands, and sharing projects/ tasks. The following examples are just a few; we have no affiliation with these apps and only present these options as items we have tried.
An option for Apple users is Things, a polished task management app that is easy to use, easy to look at, and good looking to boot. You can create sub-areas within your tasks, allowing you to sub-divide larger projects into multiple steps easily. There is room for extensive notes and you can assign yourself reminders for each step, whether it’s the whole project or one of the little sub-steps you’ve created. The downsides are that this is only for Apple devices, and each device you’d like to use it across has an additional app cost. It also doesn’t support file attachments or natural language as a way to set up due dates and reminders.
Another option is Todoist, which will cost you under $30 for an annual subscription. There is also a free version if you want to give it a try minus some of the paid-for features, but in general, this app gives you a system that is as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. You are building up your projects, which you can stuff full of as many steps as you’d like. You can even make folders to hold projects, giving you more options for organization. One of the neatest features in Todoist is the Smart Schedule. This feature steps in when you need a little more help, looking at your missed tasks and deadlines and then looking forward in your schedule to see where it can slot those missed items back in. Your own personal assistant helping you get back onto the horse!
Not feeling like the digital age is offering you the hands-on planning tips you need? Next month we look at the return of the personal planner, like your high school days, but niftier. See you then!