I love me a good todo list app. I frequently download one and load in all my upcoming items, convinced this is the next big thing in keeping myself accountable. I’ll move my shiny new icon onto my phone’s home screen and be totally jazzed to jump feet first into my new app. A few weeks will go by and I’ll find myself slacking off (again) or resorting to an old system. Before I know it, the shiny new app has lost its luster and I’ll move it off my home screen and relegate it to a folder where it collects dust until I finally delete it.
There are two factors at play here.
- If you’re really going to commit to a new app or system for your todo list, you have to stick it out for more than 3 weeks.
Twenty onedays makes a habit and if you can last a month, you likely have a chance of making it stick.
- Not all apps are created equal. More often than not, they address one particular problem and don’t necessarily integrate all aspects of your life. We’re busy people and we have more going on that just work or family or kids. For an app to do it all, it has to be pretty darn amazing. That or be entirely customizable, which would require huge upfront time on your part to set it up just so, and who has time for that?!
Despite my tendency to download all the latest and greatest productivity apps out there, I keep coming back to the same native iPhone apps time after time (sorry Android users, but I’m sure you have equivalents!). You can’t beat their simplicity and yet, they have amazing functionality. The bells and whistles of other apps are great, and I get pulled in by their shiny features all the time. However, for
For hard core utility (and voice control), I just keep coming back to the same two apps. Reminders & Calendar.
I use Calendar to record all my actual real time events. Things like work meetings, doctor appointments, school holidays, my husband’s work events outside normal hours, kid parties and family events. Sometimes I’ll even throw in something that needs a due date so when I’m checking on my upcoming week I’ll get a visual reminder.
Reminders are more for the little things that take up unnecessary brain space if I don’t get them out of my head. Remember to feed the neighbor’s cat, submit that weekly report on time, check out a new resource I heard about on a podcast or just adding items to my grocery list for my next trip to the store. These are small but essential things that are easily forgotten.
It’s not just picking the tools, it’s creating a system you can stick with so the tools do their jobs.
Once you establish where you keep these kinds of items and lists, the trick is to create your system so that you don’t forget. If you’re transitioning from a
Features I’ve just got to have (I often compare these to any app functionality if I’m feeling tempted).
Calendar: A relatively basic feature on any smartphone, key functionality being:
- Add upcoming events (dates and time)
- Recurring events (set events to recur daily, weekly, monthly, yearly etc.)
- Alerts (lets you know an event is imminent, I usually set at least 2 for important ones)
- Multiple calendars (color code based on family member, work, holidays, groceries, what have you)
- Shared calendars (share to other people so colleagues or family members get updates or alerts as well if they need to know about a specific event)
- Voice control (you do your best thinking in the car, on your daily run or when cooking dinner, inevitably you need to get it out of your head before you forget…”Hey Siri…make an appointment for tomorrow at 10 am to write guest post”)
Reminders: Think lists! With some great added features like:
- Scheduling (set a date/time for it to be “due”)
- Multiple Lists (I have one for work, family, groceries, home and the handy “Scheduled” list that shows everything with a specific due date)
- Shared lists (so I can create my honey-do list and check up on the progress.)
- Voice control (because,
hands freeis so very necessary…”HeySiri, add eggs to my grocery list.” or “Hey Siri, remind me to call Marvin the Martian when I get to work.”)