To Do List 2

How do you keep track of the things you have to do? Being an old-fashioned soul, I use a paper desk diary to note down my jobs and it’s full of lists written once, then rewritten and written again.

I’m told there are some rather good apps and other bits of software out there that could make life a lot easier for me. But I’m not technically minded and I need some persuading. San and I came up with this list of pros and cons:

Paper to-do lists

Pros:
  • No training required
  • You can always find paper and a pen
  • You don't need a power supply or an internet connection
  • Your pad isn’t constantly telling you what you’ve forgotten to do
Cons:
  • Not great for collaboration
  • Not easy to change priorities, due dates, etc., or for seeing upcoming tasks at a glance
  • Not dynamic - items don't change as they approach deadline
  • No automatic reminders

Software based to-do lists

Pros:
  • Can follow your around - on your computer, phone, tablet, etc.
  • Can be shared, tracked, monitored by team – good for collaboration
  • Can sync with other services, like Twitter, email, etc.
  • You can set reminders about important things
Cons:
  • You need a device on you, power and connectivity
  • Some training required, and set-up time
  • Services may go out of fashion or out of business

What do you recommend?

So that’s we think. But what about you? And what to-do list software should I be using? Please leave your comments below. You can also join us to discuss or tech tips and tricks every Tuesday on Twitter using the hashtag #TechTuesday. Simon Wicks, Enterprise Nation editor Photo credit: Purple Slog

Have your say

Rickie J (@RickieWrites)
Rickie J (@RickieWrites)

No question, cannot abide paper! Electronic all the way. Mostly my tasks are scheduled so 'pop up' on both phone & laptop so get them whichever devise I have with me. After all, everyone has a phone with them at all times!
I use project lists too when starting something but mostly, they are scheduled tasks that I take joy in 'dismissing' when done!

Paula Gardner
Paula Gardner

I am a big fan of paper and pencil. I use a large notebook and keep all notes relating to the tasks in there as I go along.

However, a freind has recently told me about www.lifetick.com where you can set goals, tasks and assign them to different parts of your lfe. I have signed up for a free trial and so far a pretty impressed.

Paula Gardner
Paula Gardner

I am a big fan of paper and pencil. I use a large notebook and keep all notes relating to the tasks in there as I go along.

However, a freind has recently told me about www.lifetick.com where you can set goals, tasks and assign them to different parts of your lfe. I have signed up for a free trial and so far a pretty impressed.

Caroline
Caroline

Cannot be doing without http://teuxdeux.com/ - it's a lifesaver for me!

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

Electronic for me. Apart from important documentation and expenses, I try and live a life as free from paper and printing as possible.

This also extends to my use of 'to do' lists and prioritisation. I have previously used excel, google tasks etc and I am now dabbling with Wunderlist at the moment because I can sync it with all my devices.

But I don't like it to be technical. To do lists are meant to be simple. So Wunderlist works great for that in terms of task, list and date allocation.

Suzy Richards
Suzy Richards

Neither. If I need to write it down then there's too much to do! I keep my list in my brain then anything important will be retained by my selective memory and anything not so will be forgotten :-)

Clare Coxon
Clare Coxon

We were just having this discussion in the office. I have always been a pen and paper girl but I'm going to give Wunderlist as whirl. Wish me luck!

Simon Wicks
Simon Wicks

Hi Sarah
As an Android user, I share your frustration. However, what I'm finding is that most of the developers create official apps for both platforms. And if they don't, someone else will create unofficial apps. So, for example, Teux Deux don't do their own Android app; but someone else has. I think there are probably more than enough apps out there for people on both of the major platforms (iPhone and Android).

James Walker
James Walker

I use Trello www.trello.com - works a charm for me!

Sarah Hancox
Sarah Hancox

Why does everyone assume that we all have iphones? It is so frustrating for those of us who use other mobile platforms - any suggestions?

Lorna
Lorna

I got a fancy ipad2 for Christmas, but I still can't let go of writing my to-do list in my beloved filofax!

Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes

Unsurprisingly (if you know me), I use an app for my to-do lists. Check Wunderlist, available for all main platforms. The lists sync between devices and you can share lists for collaboration.

Simon Wicks
Simon Wicks

This is all sounding highly technical to me! It's funny, I can't get to grips with using tech for my to-do lists - for some reason, it doesn't feel fluid enough. But my approach of rewriting my list in my diary each day means that over time things get left off and don't get done - and it's always the urgent things that take priority. I am, however, notoriously bad at managing my time, so the problem might be deeper than list-making alone... San recommended Toodledo to me yesterday because it synchs across devices and enables him to forward jobs by email.

Paul
Paul

Hi Simon. Its a great post. Have to say digital to-do lists always wins for me. Use Google tasks which I can control on my phone, ipad or laptop so no worries about not being able to access. Links seamlessly with my software so my production to-do list is active. Can give access to my wife too so not only can she add items to my personal to-do list but she can cross off things she has done because I haven't :-)
Couldn't do that with a paper based system.

Charlie Dalton
Charlie Dalton

The toodledo app on the iPhone/iPad/desktop is the one for me. Robust and easy to use it syncs automatically. I'm never without my phone - so I've always got my list with me. A really good day is when I've completed all the days tasks without cheating (just moving it on one day).

Love the feeling of put a great big tick next to each item - and watch it disappear. The trick is to put large and small to dos down for each day - so you have regular 'wins' even struggling a clear a large task.

Simon Wicks
Simon Wicks

Thanks Dan - I'm feeling overwhelmed by choice now. Perhaps I should try each of the recommendations for a week and report back with my thoughts. This has to be on the understanding that I'm profoundly disorganised and may well forget to report back...

Sue Byrne
Sue Byrne

I write tasks down on a white board and then rub them out when they are done. I suppose this counts as old-fashioned but it works for me every time.

Daniele Occhipinti
Daniele Occhipinti

Great post, Simon.

We are a London-based web startup and we have launched our software task manager right 7 days ago: http://www.plancake.com - the voice of our video is the Voice of London's buses - lovely! :-)

We even have a free edition and Plancake is very easy to use - so, why not to sign up now?

I love pen and paper and I think they are great tools for brainstorming and taking quick notes. But a software tool gives you the power to organise and retrieve things very easily - which is very important to keep your system always up-to-date and fresh.

So, why don't you give Plancake a try and let me know what you think?

Rosie Gray
Rosie Gray

The important thing is to use something!
There are so many things to do our brain simply runs out of RAM if we try to remember it all - and that means we're going to forget something.
Paper or electronic can both work well, purely a personal preference.
Keep it simple so it doesn't become another task on your list.
I find having my business & personal tasks on the same list helps, as otherwise I find I get all the work things done as priority & the 'Home' stuff is overlooked.

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson

Now, as a professional project planner/ event producer I have tried EVERYTHING to beat the filofax and can say I have now found it. Its the to-do app, used on iphone and synced across via Cloud on iPad. Its glorious, cheap, simple and bloomin effective. Remember though its only as good as the stuff you write down. If you forget to put it on the list, it wont get done!

aislinn
aislinn

i do both, paper and spreadsheet. Spreadsheet for my long term goals. Highlighted most important, estimated time each task takes, due date, date started. Then i have a WIP list, 'work in Progress' as i am a dress maker i like to see at a glance the current projects i need to do, when they were ordered and if the client has a deadline. i also keep a to do list on my iphone, and also scribble on paper ideas..... but paper lists tend to get lost and there is the chance that as soon as i scribble it down on paper its out my brain and if i lose the paper its gone for good. windows 7 post it notes are also good :)

aislinn
aislinn

paper lists are good as there is nothing more satifying that crossing out a task with a big black marker!

Anna Davis @balancedmum
Anna Davis @balancedmum

Great discussion! To-Do lists are the basis of good time management. I help people manage their time better and I know that there is no right answer as everyone is different. However, I believe there are some fundamental principles which help you:
1. Your list must have everything on which you need to do (so that it is not whizzing around in your head)
2. You need to be able to identify the few tasks you are going to do today and hide the hundreds of others
3. You system should be easily accessible when you need it
4. It must be simple enough that you want to use it and it improves your life (use it every day)!
5. It helps if it is segmented into the different areas or projects in your life but covers all aspects of your work and home tasks. (even better if you can add an importance tag and due date).

I have designed my own spreadsheet which works for me and I am happy to share (it is not an app and not commercial, just my home-built solution).

Simon Wicks
Simon Wicks

Awesome response, Anna! I'd love tos ee your spreadsheet - I'm rubbish at things like this! do email me: simon@enterprisenation.com

Simon Wicks
Simon Wicks

Wow - thank you so much for all your suggestions and recommendations! I'm trying out TeuxDeux (thanks, Caroline) because it's extremely simple and offers a week at a glance, which is perfect for me- that and the fact that the commentary on the introductory video is hilarious ("Oh yeah! That's so good!").

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