Five Best To-Do List Managers

If all the methodology of the best GTD applications loses you in the productivity shuffle, there's nothing like a classic, simple to-do list to keep you on track. You've never had more options—both simple and robust—for managing your to-do list as you do today. Today we've rounded up our readers' five most popular to-do list managers. Photo by elusive.

Microsoft Outlook (Windows)

To many, Microsoft Outlook is primarily an email and calendar application, but countless users also prefer Outlook tasks for managing to-dos. Since many of our to-dos originate from email, the integration of the to-do list with Outlook makes creating tasks from your email and calendar a breeze. Also, because of its wide use, you can sync Microsoft Outlook tasks to tons of devices and services for improved accessibility. The downside: It doesn't come for free (though it's cheap if you get it bundled with a new PC).

Remember the Milk (Web-based)

Remember the Milk (RTM) is a web-based to-do list manager with an emphasis on simplicity and integration with popular third-party applications. At its most basic, RTM creates, edits, organizes, and checks off your to-dos through its fast and streamlined web interface. That's only the start, because RTM shines in many other forms, whether we're talking keyboard shortcuts or integration with the likes of Google Calendar, Gmail, or Twitter. It's web-based, so you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection, but you can also use RTM offline with Google Gears or access it from your Windows or Mac desktop, so you get the best of both worlds. Remember the Milk is free to use, but Pro accounts are available with advanced features for $US25 per year.

Pen and Paper

For hundreds of years prior to the computer, humankind has managed to-dos with a simple pen and paper, and for many it's still the only way to go. There are countless methods for managing your to-do list on paper, and the beauty of this to-do manager is that it's completely flexible—you're only limited by your imagination. With that in mind, a classic, straightforward list with items you can cross off as you go has always been gratifying, and it's the template that most software to-do lists follow to this day. Photo by Florian.

Todoist (Web-based)

Webapp Todoist offers speed, simplicity, and a handful of excellent keyboard shortcuts. Todoist and Remember the Milk are both very similar in their aims (speedy web-based to-do management); the main difference lies in the way they present your to-dos. Todoist's layout sets out your to-do categories on a sidebar similar to how Gmail presents labels, whereas RTM provides a more task-centric view with categories laid out in tabs across the top of the interface. Like RTM, Todoist is a great web-based managers that integrates with several third-party apps. (Original post)

Plain Text

The plain text file—todo.txt—has always been the most basic computer-based to-do list. Tracking tasks in a todo.txt file means you can view and edit them on any operating system on any computer, and you're never tied to one application. You can access your to-do list with OS defaults like Notepad or opt for more features from your favourite text editor. Gina has shown you how she manages her to-do list with (a command line script that works with your todo.txt file), but if you don't want to go advanced, you can just as easily manage your digital to-dos with a simple, straightforward text editor.

This week's honorable mentions go out to web-based to-do manager Toodledo and the voice-to-text webapp Jott. If you've got more to say about your favourite to-do manager, let's hear it in the comments.


    For everyday things, I make my lists on paper -- a page or two, which I slip into my day book. Writing on paper does help me remember better somehow.

    When I have a trip to make or a big ensuing project with many details, I make a simple file on my computer and take note of whatever I don't want to forget, in any order. I just note the point and sort it out as the project defines itself in time.

    None of this comes easy to me. Without notes and lists, my thoughts float like the downy seeds of a dandelion.

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