The 5 Best To-Do List Apps to Boost Your Productivity
In the Women Entrepreneur series Up Your Game, we scope out the best products, apps and services to help make it easier to take your game to the next level.
We’re all busy. In fact, these days, it’s something people strive for.
In a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers from Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown wrote that a “busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol.” But our task lists keep on growing, and things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
The good news: Whether you’re looking to break up a long-term goal into smaller, easier-to-digest tasks or you simply have a lot of nagging errands to run, we’ve outlined the best to-do list apps and why they work. Here’s the rundown.
Why We Love It: Any.do’s clean interface allows for the easy input of tasks, lists and reminders, and you can also set it to ping you based on time or location. Strapped-for-time users will appreciate its “Smart Suggest” feature, which offers to complete your typing out a phrase based on past tasks. If you’re planning a trip with a friend or shopping for groceries for your family, take advantage of its list-sharing or assigning tasks features. Plus, the app is entering the artificial intelligence frontier, planning to release its “Any.do Assistant” feature soon. The assistant will use AI to mark the tasks on your list that it can perform for you -- then, if you approve, smart robots (or humans) will help you check it off.
What Users Say: One reviewer writes: “I don't typically write reviews, but this app is amazing, so you know I genuinely love the app. Another says: My day is very busy, and this allows me to organize and manage it. Would totally recommend it.”
Compatible With: iPhone, Android
Cost: Free (Premium version costs $26.88 per year)
Why We Love It: Things’ clean, easy-to-understand interface displays your tasks either by timing (“Today,” “Upcoming,” “Anytime,” “Someday”) or by category (“Family,” “Work,” “Hobbies,” etc.). Another perk? You can also list to-dos under subcategories -- for example, under “Family,” you could list “Trip to Thailand,” then tasks like “Book Flight” or “Exchange Currency.” If you use the app’s calendar feature, each day will have events grouped at the top and to-do list items below. Plus, the app has simplified the process of creating a new task -- you can add tags, deadlines and start dates if you’d like, but you’re not prompted to do so.
What Users Say: One reviewer writes: “Of all the countless apps that I use, and of all the endless, hundreds of apps I’ve downloaded over the last eight years since I first got an iPhone, I think this app has improved my quality of life more than any other.” Another says: “Use is intuitive, and the number of taps to perform an action seems fewer than the other more expensive apps I tried.”
Compatible With: iPhone
Cost: $9.99 (One-time fee)
Why We Love It: Organization buffs will appreciate Todoist’s task-creation feature. It allows you to type out your task, add a category (like “House”), set it to repeat for certain times or days, set a priority level or assign it to another person. You can view to-do list items by category or time (like “Today”), and in each list, tasks will appear sorted and color-coded by urgency. Another singular feature? The app charts your productivity, shows you the number of tasks you’ve completed in the tasks and even outlines your longest “streak.”
What Users Say: One reviewer writes: “I like that I can make lists on the computer and view or update them on my phone.” Another says: “First review I’ve actually ever done, because this app deserves it.”
Compatible With: iPhone, Android
Cost: Free (Premium version costs $28.99 per year)
Why We Love It: How can Eisenhower help you get things done? Ike is designed with its namesake’s priority matrix in mind and outlines the difference between “important” and “urgent” tasks. There are four main categories designed in a simple grid layout: “Focus,” “Goals,” “Fit In” and “Backburner” -- and unlike other to-do list apps, the very first thing you do is prioritize a task. You can also add one-off or repeating due dates and location reminders.
What Users Say: One reviewer writes: “To-do lists never worked out for me the way I wanted them to, but this method of handling tasks met my needs exactly.” Another says: “An intuitive interface coupled with almost perfect functionality make Ike my time-management app of choice.”
Compatible With: Android
Cost: Free (Premium version costs a one-time fee of $2)
Why We Love It: Clear’s revolutionary approach to to-do lists lies in its interface: no buttons, all touch interface gestures (swipes, pinches and pulls). To-do list traditionalists -- who often turn to the “Notes” app or a pen and paper -- should appreciate the app’s simplicity. Every task is color-coded for urgency via heat map colors (shades of red, orange and yellow), and separate lists allow you to map out any area of your life. Since the app’s focus is simplicity, it doesn’t allow for due dates or recurring tasks.
What Users Say: One reviewer writes: “If you want a basic, very customizable, notify-or-don’t-notify task manager, and you are not a high-power exec, this app works beautifully across your Apple universe.” Another says: “I have used it for about 18 months now. Usually I dump a to-do app after a month or so.”
Compatible With: iPhone
Cost: $4.99 (One-time fee)