Can’t keep up? Use to-do lists to manage your time effectively

Effective time management with lists.

You have a ton of work to do.

Not only do you have to get started on your daily routine tasks, you also have to make progress on another project or customer order. Then you have to do some admin work and get your finances sorted but not before you ordered more supplies or realised your business card stock is running low so you need to get more of those.

Before you know it you have 101 things you need to get done and can’t help but feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the day ahead. You need a way to get your day in order and work through your jobs one by one. How?

To-do lists.

It’s a simple solution but one that works so well that we all do it even without realising it. How many times have you gone shopping with a list and mentally ticked each item off as it goes in your basket? That right there is pretty much a to-do list.

Do I need a to-do list?

You are likely do need a to-do list if you can relate to any of the following:

  • You’re a small business owner with lots of tasks and projects to keep up with
  • You’re an employee where your daily jobs can be categorised into small chunks
  • You’re a parent who’s daily chores are a tad overwhelming
  • You’re on a health kick and need to remind yourself when to workout and eat
  • You’re planning to take over the world and need to organise your evil doings

You probably don’t need a to-do list if you can relate to any of these:

  • You’re a genius who can remember everything and don’t need reminding
  • You already have a system in place and don’t need to replace it
  • You simply don’t think you will benefit from a list

What is a to-do list?

A simple to-do list is basically a list of items that can be checked off one-by-one. For example, this can be:

  • A shopping list
  • A list of things you need to do today/this week/month/etc

An example of a to-do list in it’s simplest form could be:

  1. Do school run
  2. Call doctors
  3. Go to pharmacy
  4. Tidy house
  5. Do school run
  6. Cook dinner

You can even expand on your to-do lists and transform them into a more of a project management list, for example:

  1. Check emails
    1. Personal
    2. Work
  2. Chase supplier
  3. Update social networks
    1. Twitter
    2. Facebook
    3. Pinterest
  4. Work on project
    1. Draw up plan
    2. Purchase essential supplies
    3. Build
  5. Update financial spreadsheet

You can see how a to-do list can easily become quite cumbersome in itself if not managed properly. Fortunately there are ways we can make things easier for ourselves by using to-do list apps. Some are basic and simple to use, others require a little more thought.

Which to-do app should I choose?

Choosing a to-do app should be based on how you want it to work for you. Will you only need a simple app which helps you create a list? Would you like extra project management features? Want to integrate with other programs such as Outlook or GMail?

If you’re one of these types that can remember an insane amount of information and recall it easily then you probably don’t need to read on. What you need to do is share your wisdom with us so we can write a post about that! For the rest of us, we need a little extra help in the remembering-to-do-stuff department so below you will find some of the best to-do apps out there to help you manage your time:

To-do list apps to get your life back on track and manage your time effectively


Todoist is one of our favourite apps and one which we use regularly due to it’s sheer simplicity and ability to sync with pretty much any device. It can also integrate with, well, pretty much any operating system and browser too.

Todoist integrations.

Some of the best features are:

  • Create sub-tasks – You can break up the bigger tasks into smaller more manageable tasks (great for project work)
  • Share and collaborate – Share your task list with your team and delegate tasks
  • Recurring tasks – Need to do jobs every day? Get reminded of it!

Cost = Free (Premium plan costs $29 per year)


Wunderlist is another brilliant app which has a strong focus on beauty, giving you the option to change the background and colours to suit you. It’s another simple to-do list app with the usual features and also gives you the option to set priorities on different tasks so you know which ones need to be done sooner.

Some of the best features are:

  • Multi-device compatibility – Can be used across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows OS, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle Fire and Web
  • Public lists – You can make your lists public and searchable by others. Great for showing others how to make something or how to start the day healthily
  • Email tasks – Send an email to Wunderlist and it will generate a task for you

Cost = Free (Pro plan coss $4.99 per month)


Any.Do is another beautifully designed app and self-named as “World’s best to-do list app for getting things done”. As well as integrating with all the usual devices and platforms, the app excels at helping you to plan your day with a simple yet attractive interface.

Some of the best features are:

  • Comments – Comment on a task just in case you need to collaborate with your team
  • Notes – Leave notes on your tasks so you have all the info you need to complete it
  • Action short-cuts – Apparently you can – “Call, text, email, buy or even book your trip, all from within without leaving the app.”

Cost = Free (Premium plan costs $2.99 per month)

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk has been around for a long time and knows how to do lists. It’s great for creating tasks and sub-tasks and also integrates with a wide variety of devices and platforms. The interface may not be as pretty as some other apps but it’s just as powerful.

Some of the best features are:

  • Organise tasks – You can #tag your tasks and search your tasks by clicking on a tag
  • Map your tasks – You can give a location to your task for viewing on a map so you can see if others tasks can be completed while your in the area
  • Add tasks with Siri – Yep, you can use Siri to do your task management for you

Cost = Free (Pro plan costs $25 per year)


Trello is a whole different take on a traditional to-do list. It uses the Kanban principle to help you plan a task, work on it and complete it. It works by essentially changing the status of a task as your working on it.

Some of the best features are:

  • Task check-list – For each tasks or project you create, you can create a check-list of sub-tasks within it
  • Attach documents – You can add a document to your task such as images, presentations or other plans
  • Collaborate – Chat with your team and see updates as they happen

Cost = Free (Gold plan costs $5 per month)

Evernote Tasks

Evernote does has a Tasks feature (albeit, not the most efficient to use) which simply enables you to create a list, tick off the tasks and set reminders. You are able to add check boxes but probably the easier way to create a list in Evernote is to:

  • Create a note and give it a relevant name
  • Add tasks, one per line
  • Set a reminder for the note to notify you when a task is due
  • Complete the tasks
  • Either strike-through the task or delete it and move on to the next one

This is probably not your preferred method but I like to use it sometimes knowing that my notes for a project and tasks for that project are in the same place.

Cost = Free

Outlook Tasks (Office 365)

If you use the full version (not Hotmail) of Microsoft Outlook you can take advantage of it’s tasks feature. It’s not your pretty purpose built to-do app but it’s built in with your emails, calendar and it can all be manage in one place.

Some of the best features are:

  • Assign by email – You can assign tasks to others by putting in their email address
  • Categories – Custom categories can be made to group your tasks together
  • Reminders – Set reminders so Outlook will prompt you when a task is due

Cost = From $6.99 per month using Office 365

Pen and Paper

Sometimes you just can’t beat good old pen and paper. In fact, I have a notebook sitting next to me which is full of notes, scribble and things to do. Maybe you don’t need a fancy app? Perhaps a pen and paper really is good enough.

Hopefully you have been able to find an app or method that works for you in this article. If you have, please let us know in the comments to others can see what may work best for them.

One Response

  1. Mary 25th September 2015

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