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How to Find and Choose the Perfect Todo List App For You (TPS 135)

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Finding the right todo list app can be extremely difficult. We want to help you shortcut the process by helping you match the correct task manager or todo list app with your specific needs. In this episode, Thanh and Brooks weigh the pros and cons of popular apps like OmniFocus, Trello, Asana, Todoist, and 2Do to help you pick the one that fits your specific situation so you don’t need to personally try each one. By the end of this episode, you’ll have a much better idea about what type of app you’re going to need to manage your tasks. You’ll also know the pros and cons of the most popular apps so that you can make sure that you don’t just use the latest shiny new object but the one that will actually work for YOU.

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Cheat Sheet

  • Brooks’ story of figuring out which todo list app was best for him via trial and error [2:52]
  • How Thanh eventually landed on Omnifocus [5:10]
  • The 3 different types of todo list apps [7:43]
  • How a simple paper-and-pen todo list system can scale to digital task managers [9:17]
  • The specific use cases that Thanh uses the macOS Reminders app for [10:39]
  • Why cross-platform solutions can make task management easier [13:47]
  • Why you want the company behind the app you use to be financially healthy [16:00]
  • Our recommended apps for both personal use and team collaboration [19:09]
  • The pros and cons of the iOS and MacOS Reminders app [22:25]
  • Why Asana works so well for collaboration [26:11]
  • How to use Trello to get an overview of what’s going on [28:08]
  • How to create multiple workspaces in Asana for different areas of responsibility [30:54]
  • The advantages of using Todoist [33:09]
  • The very real productivity costs associated with switching to another todo list app [35:07]
  • Why we use and teach OmniFocus at Asian Efficiency [39:02]
  • Using contexts, defer dates, and more in OmniFocus [39:28]
  • About the 2Do app and why it’s popular [45:28]
  • Final thoughts on task managers [48:45]

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5 Comments

Posted by Greg Godwin  | March 24, 2017 at 2:10PM | Reply

Hi guys,

I really enjoyed this episode, because I’ve been reevaluating my task management app of choice this year. For over 3 years, I’ve been a loyal user of Things, and it has worked great for me. Unfortunately, their iOS app lags noticeably behind their Mac app in features, and I’m doing more and more work on my iPad these days, so I’ve been looking for something more fully featured on iOS. I used 2Do for almost a month, but I grew frustrated that it kept trying to smart about which list I wanted a task to be recorded in. I just wanted everything to go into the Inbox unless I specifically put it somewhere else. There’s a setting to enable the GTD Inbox and to use it as the default capture list, but I could never get it to work reliably. I’ve settled on Todoist, but for slightly different reasons that you mentioned on the episode. Todoist has a couple of features that make it a very attractive choice at the moment:

1. It’s cross platform, which for me as someone using only Apple devices, means that I can get the same functionality out of Todoist on iOS as I can on the Mac. The iOS apps themselves aren’t as fully featured as the Mac app, but because Todoist is a web app, I can just log into Todoist in Safari on either my iPad or my iPhone and manage project templates and all kinds of other advanced settings that aren’t available in the iOS apps.

2. The natual language processing in the quick entry boxes (both on the Mac and on iOS) is AMAZING. It makes entering tasks faster than ever for me. I think Fantastical and Todoist might have spoiled me for how to create new calendar entries and tasks.

3. The ability to share projects with other Todoist users is also a huge advantage over apps like Things, OmniFocus, and 2Do. My wife and I have 8 kids, and sharing task lists in certain areas of life has become necessary. Todoist makes that possible.

Keep up the good work!

Oh, and if you visit my blog, you’ll see I never got it up and running. I’m hoping to start posting there again this year, now that our life has settled down a bit.

Kind regards,
Greg

Posted by Tom  | March 27, 2017 at 7:35PM | Reply

So… I just got done listening to this show – my first one. I really enjoyed the content and flow.

I have some thoughts I would like to share. First, I am cross platform/os. I use PCs and Mac almost equally, and am probably in the minority but prefer Windows. I also have a OnePlus Android Phone and iPad mini.

1) For shopping lists nothing beats Alexa/Echo. Mine is in the kitchen so when I am cooking, cleaning, chatting, etc. is when I notice I need X. It is so dead simple to say “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list” – boom done. Hands free – no searching for your phone. I add it in the moment. It also makes the best hands free kitchen cooking timer on the planet, imho.

Alexa also has support for Google Calendar allowing you to add events and get a verbal agenda – pretty sweet.

2) My GTD tools of choice are:
-Gmail (sometimes inbox)
-Google Calendar
-OneNote
-GQueues (ToDo manager)

This works great for me, simple – cross platform with ubiquitous Google stuff. GQueues may be the one man show you talked about on the podcast, but it works really well. Two-Way sync between Calendar and GQueues is almost instant and a stand out feature no one else really has. That pushed me from Todoist to GQueues. At like $25 I think it is a good value.

For me, I maintain all my prioritized tasks in GQueues and during my weekly review – populate my task time blocks from my todo list to my calendar. A week is about right for me to lock it in have things come in and out of my GQueues todo list. Then during my weekly review wash, rinse, repeat. I keep pretty good track of my projects and give them a healthy once over every week and adjust priorities as necessary. Being mindful of how many working slots you have and saying “no” is pretty important to make it work. Pretty simple – works for me.

I have only listened to one show and it seems you are very focused on Mac and iDevices. I could be way off base, but hope you speak to all users like me who use both and like both.

Hope this helps!

Posted by Christian Hess  | April 3, 2017 at 11:17PM | Reply

Although I enjoyed this episode, I was amazed by how you seem to dismiss Remember The Milk as if it was some kind of old school and obsolete software. It is obvious you haven’t checked it out for awhile. As a long time user, I could not help but notice that RTM basically meets all the criteria you mentioned as part of a great task manager, including some of the “killer features” of products such as OmniFocus.

Posted by Gordon  | April 5, 2017 at 9:00PM | Reply

I too have used Remember The Milk for a few years, and find it quite good. I’ve looked around this year at the task management app space, but nothing gives me anymore than Remember The Milk already does.

Posted by Tim Atkins  | April 9, 2017 at 11:18PM | Reply

I have been using Todo Cloud by Appigo for years and have found it to be one of the most powerful in terms of features. I have yet to hear it mentioned you guys or any other productivity experts. I don’t know if that’s because it isn’t advertised well or why it never comes up in the comparisons. I use it for GTD. I can add to my inbox via Siri, create multiple lists with projects and comments, create smart lists, use tags for contexts, make batch changes, etc.

I don’t have any stake in Appigo. I just use and like their product. Whenever I hear a podcast episode talking about to do apps, I investigate others and either find out they don’t do all the things I use Todo Cloud for.

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