Technology is usually a wonderful thing. I say “usually” because technology can make life more efficient, which can have unintended consequences. When life is efficient it moves more quickly and that means there is more to do and more to forget.
Our ancestors did not have that problem. Life moved at a slower pace, dictated by the rhythms of nature and progression of the seasons. You never met a farmer who forgot to sow his fields in the spring or who was out of town at the in-laws at harvest time. The human brain evolved to be good at survival and reproduction, not to juggle 500 tasks in a given week.
So modern life is, in many ways, an unnatural act for all of us and our poor brains, evolved to receive input at a slower pace, struggle to keep up. Fortunately technology provides ways to help manage our increasingly busy lives by providing applications that can help us keep track of those myriad details and remind us it’s time to do something.
There are many, many apps out there for time management and it’s a little arbitrary to reduce it down to just three. The criteria I used were that the app needs to sync between all your devices and, since we live in a highly collaborative world, needed to include the ability to network with other people.
Any.DO is an impressive little application with a robust set of features. It’s available for Android or iOS and packs all that usefulness into a tiny, intuitive interface that’s easy to use. Key features include sync with GoogleTask, voice recognition, repeating/recurring tasks and gesture support. Just swipe-right to mark a task complete or grab a task and rescheduled just by dragging to a new time slot. What I like about Any.DO is that it’s fast and intuitive. A reminder app doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use it.
I have to admit that part of the reason I like this app is the name is brilliant, but it wouldn’t be on my shortlist if it didn’t deliver. If you’re life is busy, I mean like Kim Kardashian busy, you will really appreciate ToodleDo’s rich feature set and ability to sort and reorder tasks, change priorities, due dates and mark tasks as optional. Optional tasks automatically fall off your schedule after the due date. Part todo list, part project manager, ToodleDo is robust enough to let you manage small projects or a plan for world domination.
For a long time Android fans could remind themselves with an inner smirk that their friends with fancy-schmancy iPads couldn’t use Astrid. You can wipe that smirk off your inner face, those days are gone now as Astrid is available on Android and iOS. Astrid gets points for being fast, useful and has a Chrome plugin available, it also gets points for being the most improved on my list. Set tasks by voice, manage tasks by email and enjoy nearly seamless integration between your desktop and phone.
My only concern with Astrid is the emphasis on premium features. If you want attachments and some of the team management tools, it’ll cost you. That’s why Astrid is now at the bottom of my shortlist. It’s a great little app for time management, but if they continue ramping up the pressure to move users to the premium version, it will fall off my list altogether.