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Supercharge Your Productivity: 7 Best To-Do Apps for 2014

Supercharge Your Productivity: 7 Best To-Do Apps for 2014
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Deadlines: you can’t stand them, but you also can’t live without them. Start your new year resolutions early and kill the procrastination demon by turning to these highly useful and intuitive apps to create your to-do lists.

1. ToDoist (Free, or $29/year for Premium Version)

todo list

    Why it’s awesome: ToDoist’s layout and interface has been created to mimic your email inbox’s. ToDoist Karma, its newly unveiled feature, lets you track your productivity so that you can improve in areas like task management in the future. And in case you’re wondering, the basic ToDoist app is free but will cost you $29 per year if you’re enamoured with expansive features, such as 24 additional color codes for projects and 13 for labels.

    Availability: This is the mother of all to-do apps! It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, Firefox,Gmail, Outlook, Thunderbird and yes, on the web too, so there’s no reason not to use it, regardless of which platform you’re on.

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    2. Any.Do (Free)

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      Why it’s awesome: Any.Do has impressed me for a long time now, thanks to the story behind the app and its founder. The app is powerful, flexible and superbly sleek, something that not every to-do app can boast about. One favorite feature among its many users is the missed call reminder: users will be prompted by Any.Do to return a call if you ever receive them (and believe me, I receive A LOT during deadline days).

      Availability: Android and iOS

      3. Carrot ($1.99)

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        Why it’s awesome: Who doesn’t love games? Carrot capitalizes on this fact and presents you with a to-do app with a personality. I love the bossy the app is, constantly coming on to me with phrases like “Greetings, lazy human”, “I am your new task master” and my favorite: “You don’t want to make me upset”. As you complete the tasks one by one, you’ll receive rewards (all 400 unique ones!). Instead of constantly tweaking your Facebook covers on 123covers.net, you’re better off spending time productively with Carrot.

        Availability: iOS

        4. Wunderlist

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          Why it’s awesome: Wunderlist actually lets you focus on completing tasks in your to-do list rather than organizing and re-organizing them again. Its elegance is much-appreciated, and the beautiful interface makes it a joy to work with. The premium version, Wunderlist Pro, is actually very useful if you want to share to-dos among team members or siblings. Anyone can give this a try, albeit through limited access to files and lists.

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          Availability: iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle, Web

          5. Calvetica ($2.99)

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            Why it’s awesome: Calvetica may be feature-rich, but it isn’t in any way sluggish at all. It syncs smoothly with your iPhone or iPad’s calendar, but works faster than the default one. With Calvetica, you’ll never need another notebook or calendar in your journal again. Users heaped praises on it, and I have to agree that the stylish UI design and cleanliness is very appealing. The regular updates rolling off the app shows how diligent its makers are–this is definitely an app to watch in 2014.

            Availability: iOS

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            6. Pocket Lists ($4.99)

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              Why it’s awesome: At $4.99 a pop, this app is certainly not one of the cheapest ones in the market but it’s certainly one of the most feature-rich apps that has almost everything you need to up your productivity to an all new level. Like ToDoist, Pocket Lists come with color coded lists, but with a twist–instead of mere colors, the latter has easily identifiable icons to accompany the lists in threaded view. I am impressed by its “multiplayer” mode that lets users share their to-do lists and collaborate with other people (think: planning parties together or going shopping with your spouse).

              Availability: iOS

              7. 2DO ($9.99)

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              Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 2.37.54 PM

                Why it’s awesome: Mac users will love this app if they are constant users of iCal, thanks to its ability to sync the calendars and to-do lists between these platforms. Even without syncing, this app can charm your socks off with its intuitive and polished user interface. Another benefit that seems to be absent in most free to-do task managers is the push notification feature. Being able to add alarms also makes me more than happy paying $4.99 for the app.

                Availability: iOS, Android, Mac OS

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                Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                More on Building Habits

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                Reference

                [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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