It’s 2016. Why Can’t Anyone Make a Decent Freaking To-Do App? – WIRED

TECHNOLOGY HAS GIVEN us one-tap access to taxis, laundromats, all of history’s collected information, and sex. Yet it can’t give us a decent to-do list.

[…]

Most of the myriad to-do list apps are fine. Some of them are very good. But none of them has ever solved my problem — your problem — of having too much to do, too little time to do it, and a brain incapable of remembering and prioritizing it all. Which explains why the old ways remain so popular.

I’ve tried a number of to-do apps and approaches over the years, but they never stick. Some are very well designed, but they end up requiring far too much management and interaction. I’ve gone back to using my email inbox and my calendar to manage my work tasks. I’d be tempted by a paper-based solution, but, even though I work at home, I sometimes want to see what I have to do next on my iPhone.

Now, you may read this and say that it’s my fault that I haven’t been able to adapt to a to-do app. And you may be right. But I think I’m not alone, as this article says. Any suggestions for a different way to do to-dos?

Source: It’s 2016. Why Can’t Anyone Make a Decent Freaking To-Do App? | WIRED

30 thoughts on “It’s 2016. Why Can’t Anyone Make a Decent Freaking To-Do App? – WIRED

    • I’ve seen something similar to this. I like the idea. But I would need to do the same thing twice: once on paper, once on a computing device. Unless there’s a way to transpose one to the other, it’s not useful.

      • I keep track of my appointments and events with Calendar and use a BulletJournal for journalling and todos. This way I use each of these media for the things they’re best at. I don’t feel the need to have my appointments in my notebook or to have my todos on my phone, I always know where to look to find either thing.

        • I had a look at the BulletJournal video; it’s needlessly complex. It’s not that much better than a full-featured to-do app. I like the concept of a paper book, but it’s far too sophisticated for me.

    • I’ve seen something similar to this. I like the idea. But I would need to do the same thing twice: once on paper, once on a computing device. Unless there’s a way to transpose one to the other, it’s not useful.

      • I keep track of my appointments and events with Calendar and use a BulletJournal for journalling and todos. This way I use each of these media for the things they’re best at. I don’t feel the need to have my appointments in my notebook or to have my todos on my phone, I always know where to look to find either thing.

        • I had a look at the BulletJournal video; it’s needlessly complex. It’s not that much better than a full-featured to-do app. I like the concept of a paper book, but it’s far too sophisticated for me.

  1. I’ve been using Wunderlist for a while now and find it works pretty well. You can quickly add things to your Inbox via the Android widget just to make sure you don’t forget tasks and then later on go into the full mobile app, website, or desktop app to categorize things, set due dates, and reminders. It’s also good for setting up recurring tasks which has helped me get into some better habits and less procrastination.

    • I tried Wunderlist for a while, but it has the same problem as everything else: it’s too many steps to create anything. And it’s too finicky once you’ve created tasks. I do have some repeating tasks – I have two Macworld columns, each of which I write in alternate weeks – and it’s useful for that, but I found the process just too much of a hassle.

  2. I’ve been using Wunderlist for a while now and find it works pretty well. You can quickly add things to your Inbox via the Android widget just to make sure you don’t forget tasks and then later on go into the full mobile app, website, or desktop app to categorize things, set due dates, and reminders. It’s also good for setting up recurring tasks which has helped me get into some better habits and less procrastination.

    • I tried Wunderlist for a while, but it has the same problem as everything else: it’s too many steps to create anything. And it’s too finicky once you’ve created tasks. I do have some repeating tasks – I have two Macworld columns, each of which I write in alternate weeks – and it’s useful for that, but I found the process just too much of a hassle.

  3. The One Minute Todo List method using the Toodledo app.

    I used Pocket Informant for a while, but I’ve found Toodledo to be simpler and easier for my needs.

    And, of course, Preside as the email app so you can add emails directly to your Todo list.

  4. The One Minute Todo List method using the Toodledo app.

    I used Pocket Informant for a while, but I’ve found Toodledo to be simpler and easier for my needs.

    And, of course, Preside as the email app so you can add emails directly to your Todo list.

  5. I created a “Things to do” list in checklist style in Notes.app on my Mac, then printed it out and put it on a clipboard for ease of updating whereever I am. Hard copies work better for me. It still goes mostly unseen on my desk.

  6. I created a “Things to do” list in checklist style in Notes.app on my Mac, then printed it out and put it on a clipboard for ease of updating whereever I am. Hard copies work better for me. It still goes mostly unseen on my desk.

  7. I’ve been using Awesome Note (or aNote, as they sometimes call it) from Bridworks since 2011. I can’t say i’d recommend it though. Not that it’s a bad app – which it isn’t – but its feature set will probably overwhelm you, which you might call “creates more work than it helps you get rid of”. But i love it precisely because of that, because it’s so powerful: It’s an app that replaces all of your todos, calendars, reminders, journal/diary, whatever. IF you’re willing to get used to it.

    • I’ve been using aNote as well for a very long time. At first, because of its awesome name, then for its beautiful design. But with IOS 7 I ditched it because imho it turned into a slow, bloated mess of an App.

      Using Clear now, which is far more lightweighted and easy to use.

      • Well, aNote always was bloated. (In this case it’s an unjustly derogative term for “feature-rich”, as the app was never that slow.) But i wasn’t there at the time of iOS 7 – i’ve just upgraded from iOS 5 to iOS 10, and the app feels snappier than ever.

        Clear is pretty and simple indeed, but it’s too lightweight, not enough features for me.

  8. I’ve been using Awesome Note (or aNote, as they sometimes call it) from Bridworks since 2011. I can’t say i’d recommend it though. Not that it’s a bad app – which it isn’t – but its feature set will probably overwhelm you, which you might call “creates more work than it helps you get rid of”. But i love it precisely because of that, because it’s so powerful: It’s an app that replaces all of your todos, calendars, reminders, journal/diary, whatever. IF you’re willing to get used to it.

    • I’ve been using aNote as well for a very long time. At first, because of its awesome name, then for its beautiful design. But with IOS 7 I ditched it because imho it turned into a slow, bloated mess of an App.

      Using Clear now, which is far more lightweighted and easy to use.

      • Well, aNote always was bloated. (In this case it’s an unjustly derogative term for “feature-rich”, as the app was never that slow.) But i wasn’t there at the time of iOS 7 – i’ve just upgraded from iOS 5 to iOS 10, and the app feels snappier than ever.

        Clear is pretty and simple indeed, but it’s too lightweight, not enough features for me.

  9. I use BusyCal on IOS and MacOS—it has a good to-do function that integrates well with the native calendar app (which it replaces). I’m always messing with to-do apps, and while it’s not perfect, it’s the best I’ve found to date.

    On the more elaborate project/to-do front, I’m using 2Do, which has almost entirely replaced OmniFocus.

  10. I use BusyCal on IOS and MacOS—it has a good to-do function that integrates well with the native calendar app (which it replaces). I’m always messing with to-do apps, and while it’s not perfect, it’s the best I’ve found to date.

    On the more elaborate project/to-do front, I’m using 2Do, which has almost entirely replaced OmniFocus.

  11. You’re trying to solve a hard (some would say impossible) problem, which is “Keep track of all the things I need to do, and tell me what is most important that I should be doing right here and right now.” There are plenty of simple solutions if all you want is a simple to-do list. But if you want something more complex and more useful, it’s going to take some work to get the system set up.

    Ideally, you would spend a fair amount of time setting up the system, then it would basically run on automatic to help you get things done. I’m using OmniFocus to manage tasks at home and at work, and it took a lot of time to get a working system, but now it’s pretty seamless.

  12. You’re trying to solve a hard (some would say impossible) problem, which is “Keep track of all the things I need to do, and tell me what is most important that I should be doing right here and right now.” There are plenty of simple solutions if all you want is a simple to-do list. But if you want something more complex and more useful, it’s going to take some work to get the system set up.

    Ideally, you would spend a fair amount of time setting up the system, then it would basically run on automatic to help you get things done. I’m using OmniFocus to manage tasks at home and at work, and it took a lot of time to get a working system, but now it’s pretty seamless.

  13. I know this post is old but thought I would chime in.
    Your problem will never be solved.
    Because you are asking the wrong question to solve your problem.

    The solution to better task management (todo list management) is not a better, magical app. (Although some are very good).

    It is a system that works for you.

    We are all teenagers just barely learning to drive (when it comes to time management). I guess it’s the just the current state of culture/humanity.

    Point is, whether you have a Pinto or a Ferrari (a blank sheet of paper or an awesome todo app), it does not make you a better driver.

    A great driver can perform, driving a Pinto. A crappy driver cannot do much, even with a Ferrari.

    We are all crappy drivers, I’m afraid, when it comes to todo lists and time management because it’s not the right way to do things. A todo list by definition, is a losing proposition: A long discussion that would have to wait for another time.

  14. I know this post is old but thought I would chime in.
    Your problem will never be solved.
    Because you are asking the wrong question to solve your problem.

    The solution to better task management (todo list management) is not a better, magical app. (Although some are very good).

    It is a system that works for you.

    We are all teenagers just barely learning to drive (when it comes to time management). I guess it’s the just the current state of culture/humanity.

    Point is, whether you have a Pinto or a Ferrari (a blank sheet of paper or an awesome todo app), it does not make you a better driver.

    A great driver can perform, driving a Pinto. A crappy driver cannot do much, even with a Ferrari.

    We are all crappy drivers, I’m afraid, when it comes to todo lists and time management because it’s not the right way to do things. A todo list by definition, is a losing proposition: A long discussion that would have to wait for another time.

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