Checking off every item on your to-do list is tough when you lose the scrap of paper it’s on. The solution might be a digital means of tracking your must-do tasks, but how can you find one that works with your smartphone and your needs?
Fortunately, plenty of organizational apps offer full features—that are often free—for both iOS and Android devices. Our recommendations span everything from branded apps that work with your existing tools to brand-new picks that are worth a download.
Any.do (free/premium options)
Any.do is a great app with a straightforward and easy-to-use interface that enables quick and simple task management and even integrates with iOS’s Reminders app. This way, you can tell Siri a reminder, and have it show up in Any.do. Sync only works one way, though — removing tasks from Any.do won’t remove it from your iPhone Reminders app — but if you’re using Any.do as your main app, this won’t be an issue anyway. A similar function also exists with Alexa integration, allowing you to tell Alexa what to add to Any.do.
There are also some neat features for organization, such as sorting your groceries lists by aisle automatically, and a “plan my day” feature to help prioritize tasks. Syncing across your PC, tablet, and phone is another nice perk in addition to its support for both the iOS and Android.
Stepping up to the premium version is a $3.50 monthly fee on Android and $5 for iOS, but enhances organization with unlimited recurring tasks, color tags and labels, location-based reminders, and 100 GB storage for files.
Google Tasks (free)
The Google Tasks app is as simple as to-do list apps come. It’s a gorgeously minimal and well-designed app that does exactly what it’s supposed to and no more. You can create tasks, make a description for them, and then add subtasks. These appear in a bulleted list, and you can mark each subtask complete when the time is right. You can even set a due date for the main task. Each task sits under a list, and there’s no limit to how many lists you can create. You can have a shopping list, a to-do list, and more. In exchange for Google Tasks’ simplicity, you do lose some of the more in-depth tagging and organizational features you may find in other apps.
Google Tasks is available on iOS and Android. If you use Gmail on the web, you can see an overview of your Tasks on the right edge, next to the Calendar and Google Keep apps.
Todoist (free/premium options)
If you want a dedicated to-do list app, then Todoist is worth checking out. It’s one of the biggest to-do apps around, with a dedicated following, and years worth of proven effectiveness. You can sign-up with your Facebook profile or Google account, and getting started is as simple as typing your first task in and hitting submit. Setting up new tasks is just as easy — type your task and hit enter. You can also set a deadline for the work to be completed by, and assign a priority to the task, as well as assigning it to a group of similar tasks. Completing tasks involves ticking off the box to the side of the task, and there’s a certain satisfaction to be had just ticking off tasks — though you’re missing the point if you only make tasks to complete them.
It’s not perfect — if you want all the features you’re going to have to pay for them. Setting reminders on tasks, extra active projects, comments on tasks, and automatic backups are all premium features, and subscribing to Todoist Premium will put you back about $29 a year. Still, if you’ve tried it out and you think it’s worth the money, $29 isn’t unreasonable for a year’s worth of organization.
Evernote (free/premium options)
Another to-do list that comes with a ton of other options, Evernote is perhaps the go-to app for note-taking. Like Google Keep, it supports multiple methods of taking notes and reminders, including voice memos, full lists, and photos. Evernote takes this a step further, though, with the ability to add video and attach Word documents or PDFs to your lists. Like Google Keep, any time you add something to Evernote, it will sync across all of your devices, but unlike Keep, there is an option for offline access to your files — but only if you pay for the Premium version.
Evernote’s paid options are free for Evernote Basic or $8 per month or $70 per year for Evernote Premium. But those come with a whole raft of extra options, like offline access, extra storage, and the ability to add password-support to lock down your notebooks. Still, only you can decide whether this is worth your money or not, and we always recommend using the free version for a while to gauge whether it’s worth springing for.
If you’re not a fan of Todoist’s gamified style, or you simply want a more forgiving free option, then check out Wunderlist. It has many of the same options that make Todoist great, with an easy method of setting up new tasks, simple collaboration between users, and the ability to assign tasks to specific groups. But where Todoist restricts many of its features to premium users, Wunderlist is a lot more generous with providing access, so free users can access time-based reminders, assign colleagues to tasks, and leave comments. That said, you’re generally restricted to how many of those you can do at one time — only 25 assignees per shared list — so you could see it as an even more insidious way of tempting people into a premium subscription.
Wunderlist has done away with its premium option, meaning that all of the features are now available for free. And it’s not just free for your phone the Wunderlist app also works for your iPad, Mac, Windows, Kindle Fire, and the Web.
Organizational tools rarely exist in a vacuum. If you’re wedded to Microsoft’s ecosystem with Outlook emails and Office work, then you might be excited to learn that Microsoft has its own to-do app. Created by the Wunderlist team after Microsoft bought the app back in 2015, Microsoft To-Do bears a striking resemblance to Wunderlist — and that’s certainly not a bad thing; setting up new tasks is easy, and it offers much the same in terms of tools and features.
Where Microsoft To-Do differs is with an emphasis on My Day — namely, the idea that you start each day with a clean slate and take a moment at the start of each day to write down what you want to achieve that day. It’s a neat and fuss-free philosophy on life, and aims to make users focus on the here-and-now. It’s not for everyone, and if you like planning ahead, then Microsoft To-Do allows for that too. It even has a smart suggestion tool built in that will suggest tasks for you based on your previous record. It’s a neat little idea, and we dig it.
The future seems to have Microsoft To-Do pegged to replace Wunderlist, and you can import your Wunderlist tasks if you’re coming from that app. Integration with other Microsoft services is planned for the future, so watch this space if you’re heavily into that.
Bear (free/premium options)
If you prefer to keep your notes and to-do list together, Bear may be the perfect app for you. There’s a traditional menu bar that allows you to format text, and there’s also the option to use markdown to make some quick changes. You can also group lists and notes by hashtags, making it easy to find all your tasks.
Bear is available for iOS, MacOS, and WatchOS. You can use Bear for free, but if you want to sync between your devices, you’ll need to pay $15 a year. Sadly, there’s no Android app in the works.
Supposedly based on former President Dwight ‘Ike’ Eisenhower’s organizational method, Ike takes a more lighthearted approach to the to-do list. The core of the app is based on priority; mark the most urgent tasks as such and build your day around dealing with those most crucial of jobs, forming a “priority matrix.” It makes more sense as you delve further into the app.
Thankfully, the lighthearted approach we mentioned helps to take some of the edge off the central premise. You can attach images to tasks, which means that recurring tasks become far more enjoyable; attaching that goofy picture of your dog to your “walk the dog” task is a small crutch, but it makes getting out of bed at 6 a.m. every day slightly easier. You can attach voice notes to tasks as well, set location-based reminders, and customizable celebrations that play whenever you complete a task. It’s a capable to-do list app, made slightly sillier.
Upgrading to Ike Pro is a one-off payment of $2, and unlocks access to location reminders, audio recordings, and all of the customizable themes, along with a few extras. How can you go wrong for $2?
You might have thought that a to-do list app couldn’t get much more different — well, think again! Habitica is a completely different take on the to-do list, and it’s apparent from the moment you boot up the app. Instead of being asked to fill in your first task, you’re asked to create a character. What? Well, Habitica uses a gaming RPG-style to motivate you to complete your daily tasks. Complete tasks and your character gains experience and gold that can be spent on making them more powerful. Don’t try and cheat the system either; based on a few questions asked during your character creation, Habitica will assign you a few tasks to get you started. Fail to complete your daily tasks, and your avatar will take damage! Won’t somebody think of the player characters?!
Habitica is a bit more daunting to set up, with a system of different types of tasks and rewards to sort out before you can really get going, but if you’re really into the idea then it’s worth the time needed. So what are you waiting for? Get leveling and grind that dishwashing!
Organizing your day is only half the battle. Make sure you spend some time each day to unwind and reflect on the day by trying out one of the best meditation apps on both iOS and Android.