It’s a subject that has been discussed a lot by various outlets, but here at Arts&Life, list making—and the different ways in which we do it—has always been a strong area of interest. I used to be a firm believer in pen & paper, I thought I had to physically write things down in order to remember them. But being a true list addict means having lists lying around everywhere…so they had to make their way online eventually. So I went from collecting journals and notebooks to trying out various online to-do list apps. And what I have found is not a single “best” app, but ones suited best for particular purposes.
The first app I tried was Remember the Milk. The interface is pretty standard. There’s different sections for work, life and school with notes attached to each task. But the feature that appealed most to me was the way it could sync with Gmail, my phone and calendar. Ultimately though, I did not find myself sticking to it. I think the UI, while simple, was not stimulating enough. And while the inter-connectivity aspect was appealing, I didn’t take advantage of it because, well, as lowly assistant, I didn’t need to be reminded of much. I was using it to keep track of film festival deadlines and these features weren’t necessarily needed for that, but I can see how it would be useful if you were taking meetings all the time and a busy professional.
After Remember the Milk, I decided to go back to the basics and tried Google Tasks, a task manager that is visible in the same window as your email. What I think it’s best for is basic errands. It lends itself well to tasks like paying bills because you see information like this while looking at your email. You can create different lists and toggle between them. I have tried using it for more than just basic errands but it’s not quite enough for big projects. So ultimately, this is my winner for “everyday life tasks.”
The next step after Google Tasks is Listhings, which basically takes post-it notes online. I like the fun corkboard background and see it as a more whimsical version of Google Tasks and use it for lists focusing on lighter subjects, like retail shopping or trips.
Wunderlist is an app that I have only begun fiddling around with. Like Listhings, it has an attractive background (the default is wood-panel and there are several more to choose from.) It’s a true to-do list in that you jot single tasks down and cross them off (however there is a note section, but these are not visible on the main task.) It’s very basic but more sophisticated than Google Tasks or Listhings so I’d recommend this for the office— meetings and daily work tasks.
Last is Evernote. While I wish the design was a bit more fun, Evernote really gets the job done for big projects. The three column layout (notebooks on the left, notes in the middle and their contents on the right) really help me break down all the elements of a project and see the details. I think this layout is best for brainstorming and keeping track of tasks in different sections of one project (such as a blog!). Evernote is what Arts&Life lives on!