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App Review: Wunderlist is a Cross Platform, Easy-To-Use Task Manager

App Review: Wunderlist is a Cross Platform, Easy-To-Use Task Manager

    If I’ve learned anything in my quest to become a productive person over the years by using technology tools it is the following two points.

    1. Love the tools you use.

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    If you find something wrong with your productivity tool within the first 5 minutes of using it, chances are it won’t stick. There are a ton of list making and action tracking apps out there. Find one that has the features you want and is fun to use.

    2. Your tools have to be everywhere you are.

    The GTD guru, Mr. Allen speaks of making sure that you have a “ubiquitous capture tool” wherever you may go. I tend to take that one step further: you should have a ubiquitous set of tools wherever you go. This holds especially true with how much mobile computing has exploded in use and popularity over the past few years. We are all mostly connected via our smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.; we should have our productivity systems with us.

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    Like I said before, there are a ton of “GTD” apps out there that promise you how productive you will be and how easy they are to use. While there is no “best GTD app” out there for everyone, there are some that come close and can be highly recommended. The new kid on the block is Wunderlist (by 6Wunderkinder), a cross-platform “easy-to-use task manager” that is available for Windows, OS X, iOS (iPad and iPhone), Android, and the browser that includes over the air syncing across all apps. It sounds pretty awesome, huh?

    Today we are going to look at how Wunderlist stacks up as a productivity tool.

      Simplified task manager

      The thing that I like the most about Wunderlist is that it is dead simple. There are some task management apps out there that have folders, tags, contexts, priority, locations, subtasks, etc. Wunderlist isn’t like this; it gives the user the choice to create a bunch of list groupings (think contexts in GTD) and under each of those grouping a list of tasks. It appears you can have as many contexts as you want and as many tasks in each context as you want.

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      Your tasks can have a due date, reminder, a note, or a star. They also can be dragged to any list grouping that you want (Windows, OS X, and web versions) or the list can be changed in the details of the task (iOS, Android). There is also a set of filters at the bottom of the desktop and web apps where you can see all tasks, starred, completed, and tasks due today, tomorrow, next 7 days, later, and without a date. One thing that bothers me about these filters is that when you press any option you get a blob of tasks with no indication of what list grouping they are in.

      Cloud syncing

      You can also set up a Wunderlist account and have all your data sync with the Wunderlist cloud which allows you to keep all of your devices synced up. In general this works well and is faster than any sync I have experience on a desktop task-managment app (I’m looking at you OmniFocus). I have an installation on every platform that is available and the sync seems fairly reliable. What I mean is that sometimes when deleting tasks or marking them complete, the mobile versions on Android and iOS have trouble updating list counts. This can be remedied by exiting and starting the app again but it does happen more often than not.

      Other features

      Other features include being able to print your current task lists from the desktop and web versions, publish your list “to the cloud” where you are given a “secret” URL to share with friends or colleagues, or email your tasks. And of course, what would Wunderlist be without its beautiful choices of background images? As far as I can tell you can’t add any background or your own without doing some “tweaking” of JavaScript which brings me to the last killer feature; Wunderlist is open source and therefore just begging to be added on to. It is made of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS and can be accessed via github to have your geeky way with.

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        Cross platform goodness

        One of the other best things about this application is that it is truly cross-platform and for someone like me who is using Android, iOS, OS X, Windows, and Linux this is a major feature. All the versions of the apps seem to be similar in features and look-and-feel, and I have to say that 6Wunderkinder did a good job of porting this app to all platforms without totally changing the user experience. The mobile apps are great, but there is still some room for improvement of the UI and possibly utilizing location by providing location based contexts or tasks. But, for a first start that has only been available for a couple of months, Wunderlist hits the major features needed for a good GTD application on all platforms.

        Pros and Cons

        To wrap up let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Wunderlist:

        Pros

        • Cross-platform support: Windows, OS X, web, Android, iOS
        • Fast “cloud sync”
        • open source
        • Beautiful backgrounds
        • Easy task management including due dates, reminders, star, and list groups (contexts)
        • Search
        • Email, print, and “cloud sharing” options for tasks lists
        • Free!

        Cons

        • Sync can be unreliable on mobile devices at times
        • No options for subtasks or subcontexts
        • No start date or repeat options for tasks
        • No utilization of location on mobile apps

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        CM Smith

        A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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        Last Updated on January 2, 2020

        How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

        How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

        Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

        Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

        But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

        Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

        Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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        Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

        It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

        1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

        They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

        To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

        2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

        Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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        Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

        3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

        Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

        Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

        4. Be Who You Are

        It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

        You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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        You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

        Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

        5. Slow Down and Let Go

        Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

        Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

        Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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        So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

        When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

        The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

        Final Thoughts

        What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

        To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

        If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

        More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

        Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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