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New Years Resolution – To Do List in the Cloud / Mobile

iPad-White-TodoistSo, how to get organized for the New Year? I’m a compulsive to-do list maker. I’ve got one list in MS Outlook, one in Zoho, and a big complex one in MS Access. If anything I’m over-organized. But, those lists in different places make it difficult to see the forest for the trees and it’s fragmented.

I also want to have my priorities with me all the time, and to be able to adjust them in a snap. That means going mobile, as in mobile phone and iPad. I want to have all the data in the Cloud, so I can get to it from anywhere.

Well, I got there just in time for the New Year and it’s great. Tasks at my fingertips, and easy to adjust and prioritize – available on desktop, phone, and tablet.

I set my criteria as I did my research:

  • I wanted to have a project and task hierarchy, so I could handle more complex projects when I needed to.
  • Having a good iPhone app was critical. I also wanted an iPad app, but as I experimented I found that if I could use the full website on the iPad, that was good enough.
  • Like most people, my tasks creep forward a day frequently. Having easy date adjustments is key. Changing a date to tomorrow can’t take five clicks.
  • A lot of my tasks originate and end in email. This became even more important than I thought. You want to either have integration into the email client, or the ability to mail tasks to email – preferably both.
  • I was willing to pay for functionality, but not go broke.

The software and apps I looked at fell into two categories pretty quickly. First, there are the simpler to-do list handlers, suited to shopping list and things you just check off. Some of these are beautiful. I’ve used Wunderlist for over a year to manage shared shopping lists with my wife and kids. The user experience is excellent and it feels like an extension of your hand. But my impression is it is not quite powerful enough for my work. (I’m still using it for all shopping lists.) Astrid is similar, with a striking iPad app.

The second category is more powerful and more complex. It’s suitable for projects and tasks, fast changing priorities, and working with others. Sometimes these are used by startups to run the whole show. They are like project managers, but nimble and less complex.

The ones I found wanted to evaluate were Asana, Todoist, Producteev, and Toodledo. I narrowed it quickly down to Asana and Todosit. Both are elegant and fast. When I set up my test, I used Asana for everything I needed to do at home, and todoist for everything else personal.

After a few days Todoist easily won out. It was frictionless and allowed me to focus on the work, not the software. The interface is elegant and clean. It’s a snap to move things between projects and push tasks forward a day. It’s got plugins for both MS Outlook and Gmail for easy email integration. I’m loving it and enjoying a huge burst of productivity. Like anything, It’s not entirely perfect. It’s difficult to query individual projects with specific queries. But, it makes beautiful trade-offs between powerful and ease of use. Contact me if you want to know more.

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