Why Use To-Do List Software?
How great would it be to have a second brain, one that would keep track of your obligations, remind you about your big meetings and your tiny tasks, and basically keep tabs on things so you can get the most out of your day? While cybernetics has not yet reached the level of brain implants, we have the next best thing: to-do list software that works on computers and mobile devices. This software is designed to let you program in your day, record short- and long-term goals and projects, keep notes, share tasks with others, and remind you about upcoming events or deadlines.
To-do list software can have a wide range of tools and features. For example, with Todoist, you can set reminders not only by time, but also by location. All of the programs on our list have a task-delegation tool so that you can assign a task to someone else who is using the program. This is great for families. A few, such as Simply Confirm, have more complex collaboration features that make them suitable for program management in businesses or other organizations.
There are free versions of task management. Microsoft, for example, has tasks and calendars as part of Outlook. If you've been assimilated into the Google collective, you can use the Google Tasks app, which works with Chrome, Gmail and other programs.
Nearly all to-do list management systems come with a free version, but the paid versions have more features and allow for greater interaction among team members. Several of these will work well in business environments, but if that's specifically your focus, check out our task management software site.
To-Do List Software: What to Look For
No to-do list software can pass the Turing test for artificial intelligence, but it should be relatively intuitive to handle. After all, there's no point in having a second brain if it doesn't do the things you want it to-do. The best task management software should be easy to use, more controllable than Skynet and capable of crossing platforms.
There's enough complexity in the human mind without doubling it with a second brain. A few applications, like Remember The Milk, accept voice commands, so you can set your tasks and reminders with the same ease as Spock talking to the Enterprise. Trello offers a neatly organized project board that is visually appealing as well as easy to work. GTDNext, meanwhile, organizes tasks according to the Getting Things Done principles of time management expert David Allen.
Not everyone who enjoys new tech has Vulcan-level proficiency. Look for to-do list software that contains a strong help and support section, both on its website and in the program itself. Since we still can't download lessons directly into our human brains, the best task management sites contain videos as well as written instructions.
Task & Reminder Setting
By mastering your tasks and schedules, you can free yourself to work on that plan for preventing the rise of the machines or enjoy a quiet, tech-free afternoon daydreaming among the dandelions. All of the programs we looked at contain tools for setting tasks, deadlines and reminders, and prioritizing them. Some organize tasks into projects. All allow you to program recurring tasks so that your second brain can remind you of the gym appointment you keep "forgetting."
Many of these tools also allow you to attach notes, photos and files, making it easy to access all the information you need to complete a task or project. You can program subtasks with some programs – Wunderlist Pro, for example, lets you break down your big to-do into as many steps as necessary. Some, like DropTask, let you tie a task to multiple projects so when you cross off one task, you see several projects progress toward completion. Finally, a few have a rewards system for finishing things, because tech or no tech, humans are motivated by rewards.
Collaboration with Humans
Most productivity experts say the key to effectively managing your time is to delegate tasks. You can find plenty of articles about choosing which tasks are best to delegate and how to motivate people to-do what you want them to-do (especially in the absence of mind-control technology). However, one of the biggest stumbling points of delegation is that most people are busy and overwhelmed from demands on their attention. To-do list software can help you to prioritize and remember your requests. Most programs, like Any.do, let you email tasks and set reminders. AllThings allows you to estimate time needed for a task and track time spent, a great feature when making tasks for studying or spending time on a long-term item. Simply Confirm has a great feature that lets you embed acknowledgements of specific parts of an email. That way, you can be assured your IT folks know not only to get the bugs in that program fixed by next week's meeting, but that they also need to install a failsafe to keep the AI from inviting hackers to play Global Thermonuclear War.
And speaking of playing games, there are a few that will turn task management into a game. We looked at Habitica, which turns tasks into dailies and missions so that your avatar can earn gold, get pets and join in boss battles. It's a fun one to use with the kids or the kid-at-heart.
Integration with the Cyberverse
If your second brain, aka task management application, isn't portable, it's probably close to useless. The programs we profiled all have apps for mobile devices, so check for those that interact across multiple platforms. That way, if you are at your desk and want to remind yourself to return that copy of Terminator 3 you borrowed from your brother last year, you can load the reminder on your PC and have your Android or iPhone remind you after you leave the office.
Personal task management programs strive to be self-sufficient, but for us humans who are comfortable with some of the programs we use every day, several can integrate with third-party programs. By far the most common are Google programs like Gmail and Google Drive, but many integrate with Outlook, Dropbox, Evernote and a colony of other productivity apps created to help you evolve your time management skills to a state of perfection.
The best task management software can help you with interactivity – both human and software. It won't assimilate everyone into a collective, but all things considered, that's probably a good thing.
It's said that Einstein once called his wife from the train station to ask her, "I know where I was and I know where I am…but where was I going?" The greatest and most active minds are often the ones that let the little details – like their destination – slip between the neurons. With to-do list software, you can have the closest thing to a second brain, always keeping track of those pesky details so you can get done the things you need to-do while freeing up your brainpower for the big thoughts or the daydreams that make us human.