It's official: I can no longer think of a single person I know (unless, of course, you count my two-year-old) who doesn't have more work on their to-do list than any human being can reasonably be expected to handle. If you're like everyone I know, chances are you could use a few new tools to help you manage your priorities, simplify your life and accomplish more. This guide is for you.
Although there's no shortage of free utilities and services promising to make you a productivity powerhouse, in my experience few of them meet the increasingly high demands of real world use. I've tested an astounding variety of task managers, list apps, calendars, project trackers and note takers over the years. Here are 12 that truly earn their keep.
If you're into Inbox Zero, as I am, then you probably feel a deep, bone-crushing need to address and delete every single item in your inbox by the end of the day. So what to do with all those email messages you get that don't require action until tomorrow, next Monday, or January 3? Answer: Nudgemail.
Register your email address at Nudgemail.com, and you can then use your Forward button as a snooze button. Forward a message to email@example.com, and it will return tomorrow. Monday@nudgemail.com will restore it on Monday. Nov13@nudgemail.com will send it back to you on November 13. And with your inbox empty, you can finally go to sleep.
For scheduling a meeting with a ragtag band of independent contractors or taking a poll about where to go for lunch, Doodle is a quick, no-hassle service that gets the job done. You don't even have to waste time signing up for an account (although you can). Doodle appointments export as ICS files that you can add to most calendar apps, and you can quickly embed invitations and polls on any website for easy access.
3. Remember the Milk
At this point, Remember the Milk has handily earned a place on our list of tried-and-true productivity boosters. In fact, several of our staffers (including this author) use it daily for GTD (Getting Things Done)-style life management. Type any to do idea into the 'Add a new task' field and it's ready to track. Add due dates, tags, priority rankings and repeat intervals all in the same field. You can share lists with other RTM users for group projects, too. And when your list grows long, you can create custom search-and-sort lists on the fly and save them for quick viewing.
RTM boasts a sweet set of mobile apps and third-party add-ons, and it especially comes to life on Android, where its 2x3 home screen widget keeps your most important list within view at all times. Basic web access is free, but the $25 pro version adds mobile access, well worth the price.
For more traditional task management, it's hard to beat Toodledo's robust interface. Toodledo is optimised for the GTD methodology with context tags, locations, folders and great tools for adding notes to a task or project. It works with a variety of mobile apps for Android, iPhone and iPad.
The free version is plenty useful for individual users, but if you want collaboration and sharing features, subtasks, goal tracking, and the ability to print cool little paper booklets of your daily agenda, you can get a Pro account for $15 a year. A $30-per-year Pro Plus account adds 5GB of storage for file attachments.