Most productivity gurus recommend having a to-do list to manage your tasks. But after a while, that to-do list can become your worst enemy, as it grows into an out-of-control mess. It might be time to change things up.
I’m a fan of the three-strike system to change productivity techniques or tools periodically. That change forces you to look again at which tasks really matter and should be put on your list. Plus, you never know which app will make you get more things done.
1. Timebound (Android, iOS): The Deadline-First Tasks App
Procrastinators will know that the only thing that really puts you into action is the sight of a looming deadline. So Timebound puts the deadline first, and the task later.
You can’t add a new task to Timebound without a deadline attached to it. Once you do, the tasks are arranged by when the deadline is due. You will see cards for each task, showing how much time you have left to complete it. If you don’t finish it, it’s going to be added to the “Missed” tab.
It’s a nice way to prioritize your task list, especially if you are someone who waits until the last minute to get things done. I’d recommend enabling notifications for the app just so that panic sets in earlier than later.
2. My Progress (Web): Simple To-Do App in a Browser Tab
Not everyone needs a complicated to-do app with deadlines, reminders, sub-folders, and all that jazz. My Progress is a simple to-do list app that resides in your browser. You don’t even need to sign up to use it.
There is nothing more to the app than adding a task, and checking it off when you’re done. When you check it, it gets a strikethrough as well as a different color and moves to the bottom of the list. Want it gone? Press the “X” to clear it. A progress bar tells you how many tasks you finished, while a notification says how many are left. And another bar at the top tells you how much of the day is left to finish your work.
My Progress actually works well even on mobile phones, which was a bit of a surprise. You could turn the site into an app and use it as your to-do list on the phone, devoid of any notifications. But yeah, it won’t sync with your desktop.
3. Tet (Android): 24-Hour To-Do List
One day, one task list. That should be the goal of any productive mind. Tet, an app made for this, believes you shouldn’t carry your tasks forward to the next day. Finish what you have or forget about it.
The app works with your Android system clock to let you add tasks for the current day. At midnight, the entire task list will be cleared and you will have to start fresh. It’s effective in forcing you to act on the tasks before you forget about them.
After all, when the tasks are on your to-do list forever, you can think you’ll get back to them later, and that’s how you end up procrastinating.
The simplicity of Tet makes it perfect to use along with the any of the other excellent to-do apps for Android. Use Tet for your daily chores, while the main to-do app can be all about long-term tasks.
Download: Tet for Android (Free)
4. Check (iOS): Tasks That Disappear After Your Deadline
For iPhone users who want something like Tet, check out Check. It doesn’t adhere to the 24-hour time limit, but it has the same principle of tasks that disappear after a while.
In this app, you get to set the deadline for each item on your to-do list. Once that time lapses, the task disappears. This is more control than Tet, but it’s also a bit of a pain at times. And unlike Tet, the tasks don’t disappear forever. Check keeps those tasks in a folder called Missed Tasks. From here, you can also re-add the tasks to your to-do list.
I have mixed feelings about this. While it’s nice that you can check what you missed, it loses the urgency of Tet to get things done before they’re gone forever. Without panic as a motivator, procrastination isn’t far away again.
Download: Check for iOS (Free)
5. Lanes (Web, Android): A Cool Weekly Planner With Pomodoro
Those who don’t work on a daily schedule wouldn’t have much use for the aforementioned apps. Lanes adds a little more ability to plan ahead, especially for the week to come. And there’s a built-in Pomodoro timer too.
Lanes offers three views: daily list, weekly planner, and calendar. Of these, the Weekly Planner is a fantastic way to chart out what you want to accomplish in the days ahead. As you add tasks, you can even set them to repeat for each day of the week. Tasks can also be labeled to categorize them effectively.
Hover over any task and you will get an option to start it with a Pomodoro timer . Lanes keeps a track of everything, of course.
Along with the planner, you get separate lists. These are for tasks that don’t fit into a day, but you need to do them at some point. Create a list, and start adding things to it. Over time, Lanes turns into a great-looking dashboard of everything you need to do.
Download: Lanes.io for Android (Free)
What’s the Best To-Do App?
These new to-do list apps will make you reassess how you think about task management, and even get you to be more productive in the process. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best to-do apps out there.
In fact, we recently took a long look at some of the most popular tools for task management. In the end, we have a winner: TickTick is the best to-do app (and if you don’t like that, then try Remember the Milk ).