To Do Lists/Apps

I’ve placed this post in Project, as a “To Do” app is often a ‘default’ Project for learning tech stuff, and maybe this will end up as a project.
“To Do” lists/apps are a very personal thing, which I believe is the top reason why a one-size-fits-all method of creating a list/app probably can’t exist.

I would like to hear how you all know what you need to get done, and if you use any tools, or just paper, or just your head etc?
What are the “must have” features you’d like to have in a “ToDo” app?

Personally, I’m trying to get out of the habit of using scraps of paper or post-it notes.
My main method is storing all the things I need to do on - this is an awesome Bullet-Point list site.
I use it just as much for general note taking and brainstorming, but as it lacks any real “ToDo” app features (due-dates, reminders, location awareness) I dont think its the best place.

I have tried MANY ToDo apps on my andriod phone and never been quite happy with any of them.
One of the simplist specific ToDo apps which I am still half-using is called “Tasks Free” ( )

It’s good because the Widget is nice and clean, and because it links to Google tasks, but then again Google Tasks aren’t that great.

One “school of thought” for categorising / splitting your ToDo lists up is “Now, Soon, Someday”, but I think this allows to much for procrastination - when is Soon? Will Someday ever come?
I’m now trying out “Once, Ad-Hoc, Regular” as follows:

Once = A task you need to do and expect it to be a one off.
Ad-Hoc = A task you expect to need to do more than once, but on a irregular or unknown schedual.
Regular = A task you expect to need do on a repeating schedual (every day, week, month)

Sleeping would be the top ‘Regular’ example that applies to everybody! Not that I think that needs listing in a “ToDo” list, but ensuring you have a regular sleep time is surely a good idea.

I really liked Remember The Milk, but my general procrastination got the better of me, and I stopped using it. I sometimes use the corner of whatever Trello I am using, or Android diary notes.

Keep meaning to get back to RTM… one day!

One day I will magically get enough time to actually build my app that I’ve had floating around my head for years. I’ve got as far as a landing page

You have to choose to be organised, but once you do, your system needs to somehow present itself to you and be a frictionless as possible.

Nice splash page!
Sounds like you need your app, in order to help you build you app.

What I’m currently doing is recording what I do, for every 15 minute time slot, 24 hours a day.
I figure if you want to “Find time” for anything, first you need to know where your current time is spent. It’s most interesting, but this is for another topic really.

I’m a big fan of Trello and the flexibility it provides. Here is an example of one of my boards:

This is the result of merging a bunch of different boards which I’d setup for learning different technologies (PHP, Ruby, JavaScript, et al), split into columns based on progress, with tags showing the technologies it features.

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I used Freemind mind-maps for a long time, then via Agile/Lean/Kanban experimentation tried Trello, until their blog pointed out that it was a ‘lists of lists’ app, a tree, the same as mind maps, Kanban, outliners and indented lists. I concluded that the tool doesn’t matter as much as the how you use it. I came across a new one last week: stickies on brown-paper for portable Kanban. Post-cards, tape and a big wall are good too. Or magnets and a board instead of the wall.

In a tool, I’d say don’t confuse urgency with importance and make prioritisation relative, not absolute. Don’t have target dates unless there’s a reason. Finish dates are a consequence of scheduling, which might change. A time planning tool that doesn’t know what’s in your diary is almost useless.

@LimeBlast’s move to a learning board from learning items on tech boards is an illustration of my theory that nothing is really hierarchical. It’s intertwingularity all the way down. I’m experimenting towards finding a fix. (I refuse to accept Ted Nelson’s opinion that it’s impossible. What doors he know?)

I’m a big user of trello, I tried todoist for a while. I’ve used scraps of paper in the past, but now mostly only do for that things I’m doing today.

Most of my Trello boards are constructed in familiar structure:

  • Icebox
  • todo
  • doing
  • done

Usually I end up too many things in todo, so periodically I weed stuff out into icebox. The biggest issue is not the todo list system, but getting into a routine of doing the stuff on it, especially for non-work projects.

Interesting. My ‘Personal Kanban’ is backlog, do, in progress, done. That’s the same isn’t it? I’m experimenting with limiting work in progress but the effect so far is that when I want to do something more exciting, I don’t put it on the board. Is that ‘Leaning Out’? Or maybe ‘failing to Lean’.

I went on a course many years ago by Time Manager International. They taught a number of techniques but one makes an interesting contrast: divide your life into up to 9 task ‘themes’ plus Ideas. Decide what proportion of your life should be spent on each and time box to make it happen. That stops you being interupt driven. The course leader suggested one theme was ‘friends and family’ to stop people forgetting to have a life.

Where is his opinion? Who is he? @Woo

That sounds absolutely terrible…

Compared that to finding your life purpose, and working towards that. Plus just doing 3-4 other important things, like looking after yourself, relationships with others, learning, and “work”.
Although “work” should = life purpose sometime.
Nobody needs 9 themes of things to do, thats overload.

Less is More. You want to get more done? CUT OUT 80% of all the things you are doing. Then do the remaining 20% better.
In short “Dont do stupid shit”.


Evernote is my daily driver. I use it for everything along with Google now. But I try to exercise my brain to remember things and not only rely on tech.

9 is a maximum. You will work on the things you are passionate about. The TMI idea is to deal with the big, long-term projects you don’t have time for and the things you have to do, like time-sheets, invoicing and training courses you need but don’t want.

He invented hypertext.

Was recently wrong about Ebola wiping out the human race though, so he’s not infallible.

I’ve been using this a few times a day since 2011, right balance of simplicity and features for me:

I pay for it although I technically don’t need to :slight_smile:

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Ooohhh, I like the look of workflowy - it’s a bit like mind-maps, or at least the way that I’d implement them. I’m not sure that I’d use it as a project management tool, but it could be very good for planning the structure of something.

The David Allen “GTD” mantra of writting everything down (somewhere) has stuck with me. The posh term for this is “Distributed Cognition”.

Workflowy is my main thing, I just wish it did reminders as well.
I’ve got historic stuff in Evernote which I dont use anymore, plus I have an “Ideas Book” lying around somewhere.

I’ve very recently gone all Beautiful Mind with half of 1 bedroom wall covered in post it notes.
Change is afoot, I dont know what kind, but change is coming. I really need a good system to support this, and my brain alone isn’t enough.

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This kind of madness is what brought me to thinking about concept mapping using directed graphs (string between the post-its.)

Great thread. Does anyone have a nice solution for using Trello as a scheduling tool?

We use a board per project (or ongoing client) but we don’t have a good solution for an overall view where I can then see a weekly schedule for the team across all projects.

It feels natural that I should be able to ‘borrow’ cards from boards. For example, we would have a schedule board with lists for the days of the week and each member of the team. I want to drag to place cards in each day of the week but not remove them from the original project board.

If anyone has managed a nice solution or has some experience to share then I’m all ears!


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