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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 September 28, 2020

        How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

        How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

        The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

        Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

        Here are some study tips to help get you started:

        1. Use Flashcards

        Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

        Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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        To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

        One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

        Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

        As Tony Robbins says,

        “Repetition is the mother of skill”.

        2. Create the Right Environment

        Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

        Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

        3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

        In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

        An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

        4. Listen to Music

        Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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        5. Rewrite Your Notes

        This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

        Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

        To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

        6. Engage Your Emotions

        Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

        Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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        For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

        7. Make Associations

        One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

        Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

        To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

        You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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        Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

        Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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