Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 5, 2018

10 Best Task List Apps Out There for Getting Stuff Done

10 Best Task List Apps Out There for Getting Stuff Done

Life is a continual series of tasks. From the daily nitty gritty to the higher level juicier ones (like goals and aspirations), you’re faced with a stack of tasks requiring your attention.

At the end of each day, it’s up to you to decide how much of it you feel like accomplishing.

Unfortunately, we’re inundated with opportunities to slack off and procrastinate, and it’s crucial we need a legitimate source to keep track of everything stacked on our plates.

There are a ton of really well-made apps out there designed to help you stay on top of your to-dos. So I decided to take a look at some of the more popular ones and compile a list of what I think are a combination of the best ones.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 task list apps out there to help you stay focused, sharp and ready to tackle your life’s biggest goals (and daily tasks):

1. Todoist

    A solid choice looks-wise and a task-list app veteran, Todoist touts itself as super user friendly. It’s got a great system allowing you to create sub-tasks, assign due dates, and color code tasks based on priority.

    It also integrates with a variety of popular third party apps like Gmail, IFTTT, and more.

    You can even sign up using your Google account and immediately jump in to creating tasks.

    Available for iOS | Android

    2. Trello

      Trello really shines in business settings.

      It’s the go-to app to manage tasks for a lot of smaller companies. Each project is represented by a “board”, and you can then assign multiple tasks to each project via what Trello calls “Cards”.

      Dragging and dropping is intuitive and makes the experience super smooth, especially on a computer.

      Advertising

      There is an iOS/Android version, but if you use this, it’s best on a PC or Mac to create and manage the tasks.

      There are better, easier apps if it’s just for your personal stuff — but for a small team or business, this is one of the best out there.

      Available for iOS | Android | Web

      3. Google Tasks

        Fairly new on the scene, Google is taking their stab at the ever popular and saturated task-list app market.

        But in true Google fashion, it’s nothing to look past.

        Simple, beautiful, and easy to use, Google Tasks is a designer’s dream come true and a user’s best friend. It does what it does best: track your tasks.

        The rest of the bells and whistles are left for others.

        And of course, it’s seamlessly integrated into Gmail, where it appears on the right side of your inbox, should you use it.

        Available for iOS | Android | Web

        4. Evernote

          If you find yourself taking longer notes instead of just quick one-liners, Evernote may be the way to go.

          It’s well-known for its ability to capture your thoughts in more than just a few words, making it intuitive and easy to track your mind’s daily brain dumps.

          More than just text, it supports taking notes via voice recordings, pictures, and more.

          Advertising

          So if you’re definitely one of those more visual people, Evernote is calling your name.

          Available for iOS | Android

          5. Wunderlist

            A fan favorite, this app has been around for years and continues to dominate based on it’s ease of use and super sharp GUI (graphical user interface, i.e. the way it looks to the end-user).

            It’s been voted App of the Year in multiple publications, including the Apple App Store.

            In short, you can create different task lists based on a category, and then share those with others.

            For instance, if your husband or wife sends you to the grocery store, the two of you can share a list and both can edit on the fly, allowing for on the fly collaboration.

            It is also fully integrated with Slack now, one of the most popular chat apps on the tech market today.

            Available for iOS | Android

            6. Microsoft To Do

              If you’re a Microsoft fan, you’d be pleased to know they’ve also taken a stab at making their own task list app.

              It was originally created by the team at Wunderlist (Microsoft bought them in 2015), so if you’re familiar with the app, then you have an idea of what you’re getting here.

              Furthermore, if you are locked into using Outlook and Microsoft’s suite of tools, this app will naturally integrate seamlessly.

              One unique feature is their take on what they call “My Day” — the philosophy that each day is a blank slate and you’re given the opportunity to fill it as you see fit.

              Advertising

              In other words, there’s no carryover from previous days if you don’t want. But if you do, the option is there.

              Available for iOS | Android

              7. Things 3

                There’s a common theme here for the best task list trackers, and it involves one thing: looking good.

                Things 3 is no different, but it takes the clean GUI to a new level.

                Made for individuals looking to keep tabs on their daily to-dos, it splits things into simple tasks and lists without the extra bells & whistles some apps may carry.

                Available for iOS

                8. Habitica

                  Words, pictures, and voice memos not doing it for you?

                  Enjoy playing games in your spare time and want to transfer the same feeling into your boring task list?

                  Enter Habitica, which turns your tracking into gaming of sorts.

                  When you first start the app, instead of asking what your first to-do is, it asks you to create a character.

                  And just like that, you know the intent of this app — by gamifying the system, you’ll be more inclined to keep track and stay efficient.

                  Available for iOS | Android

                  Advertising

                  9. Any.do

                    This app stands out for its unique take on organizing your lists.

                    Instead of putting them in categories such as “Work”, “Personal”, and others, any.do will show you the tasks which you need to accomplish first.

                    So if you’ve set a personal goal due tomorrow, you’ll see it first…even if work is bugging you nonstop at the moment.

                    Any.do also syncs up nicely with your calendar, working side by side to show you what deadlines you’ve set.

                    Available for iOS | Android

                    10. Fantastical 2

                      If you can’t let go of the idea of integrating a calendar in your daily to-dos, then look no further.

                      Fantastical 2’s sweet spot is it’s actually just that: a calendar. But with your to-do’s built in on the GUI, you can see exactly what you need to do and at what time, all wrapped in a more visual way than just simply showing a wall of text.

                      Unfortunately, Fantastical 2 is only for iOS — but with such a clean interface, it’s hard not to be a fan.

                      Available for iOSMacOS

                      The bottom line

                      These are considered some of the top ones that I feel could make a difference in your quest to tackle this thing called “life”.

                      Ultimately, the choice is yours — but as you begin to track your tasks, you’ll find that certain methods work better than others. Hey, we’re all different.

                      Whether you’re visual, list-oriented, calendar-heavy, sound-induced, or any combination thereof, rest assured there’s an app out there to help you.

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      More by this author

                      Adam Bergen

                      Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

                      6 Simple Habits at Work That Will Instantly Boost Your Productivity The Real Causes of Lack of Energy That Go Beyond Your Physical Health 10 Best Task List Apps Out There for Getting Stuff Done Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest 5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed to the Max

                      Trending in Smartcut

                      1 How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch 2 How to Make Going Back to School at 30 Possible (And Meaningful) 3 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 4 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work 5 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

                      Advertising

                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

                      Advertising

                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

                      Advertising

                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

                      Advertising

                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      Read Next