Sunday, 14 December 2014

Revamping those to-do lists

'to do list' by Eamon Brett
under a CC license
To-do lists are nothing new. They are simple and humble yet, for some people, precious.

Personally, I'm not too much of a fan of such things. For that, I have paid the price at a number of occasions. However, having forgotten - a number of times - to get the all the things I need from the supermarket in a single go and having gotten things I didn't really need instead, I somehow convinced myself to ride the wave and install one of those 'to-do' list apps on my mobile.

I went for Wunderlist but I soon realised that there are numerous alternatives, such as Toodledo, Remember the milk (!), Asana and many. many others, including Google Tasks, which is tightly integrated with GMail and Google Calendar and the purpose-built Google Keep. Each of those has its pros and cons, some are simpler and more intuitive than others, etc., but all can, in some way, find home in your smartphone and replace that old-fashioned to-do list on a piece of paper.

(BTW, I won't be doing a review of those apps here. However, there are plenty of reviews over the internet, for example in LifeHacker, the Verge and PC World.)

I'm a bit surprised that some many people came up with an idea (or copied the idea) for an app to replace a simple piece of paper. I know, I shouldn't be. After all, this is a kind of useful app with quite some margin for extra features.

People have been creating to-do lists all the time and having them in a digital form does come with advantages, such as the possibility to re-use lists or list items, share them with others, collaborate around them, combine them with work planning, etc. It's just that such lists can easily exist on torn notebook pages and post-it notes and still reach their objective. In that sense, having such apps feels like an overkill but, at any rate, clearly, that will work, too. After all, smartphones are supposed to be much more besides a simple mobile phone and adding the to-do list functionality is another (small) step towards helping us in our daily lives.

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