Tag Archives: To-do Lists

What Not to Do If You Want to Be Productive

What Not to Do If You Want to Be Productive

Productivity may be about getting things done, but it turns out that not doing things is just as important.

On her blog, Jocelyn K. Glei talks about the importance of a “stop-doing list.” In this age of multitasking, it can be easy to focus on all the things you should be doing, and forget about the things you should be saying “no” to. Everyone’s “stop-doing list” is most likely a little different, but here are a few of my favorite tips from Glei’s:

  • I don’t listen to music or radio that has words.
  • I don’t treat emails from people I don’t know as urgent. (I love, love, love this one.)
  • I don’t answer my phone or texts first thing in the morning.

There are also some more obvious ones, like avoiding social media until the afternoon, but the key to making a good to-don’t list is to focus on the little things. According to Glei: “You want to sift away all the small stuff that drags on your productivity. Then, when you’re creating your to-do list, try to focus as much as possible on the big picture—the long-term goals and projects that really matter to you.”

Productivity Is Really About What You Don’t Do | Jocelyn K. Glei

Photo by Courtney Dirks.

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

If you need help jogging your memory, you might try your hand at drawing. A recent study found that we remember items better when we draw them rather than write them down.

In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments asking subjects to draw or write down different items. Overall, the study found that subjects were better able to recall the items when they drew them.

For example, in one of the studies, subjects were given a few different tasks with different series of words. They had to either write them down, draw them, visualize them, list attributes of the word, or look at a picture of the word in context. Subjects were more likely to remember the words that were drawn, leading the researchers to conclude:

Together these experiments indicate that drawing enhances memory relative to writing, across settings, instructions, and alternate encoding strategies, both within- and between-participants, and that a deep LoP, visual imagery, or picture superiority, alone or collectively, are not sufficient to explain the observed effect. We propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace.

To put these findings into practice, New York Magazine suggests drawing your to-do list. This can help you remember what you have to do and stay focused on those tasks throughout the day. This tip may also be useful for studying, though, and creating a visual mind map can help with brainstorming projects, too.

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-use-min…

Of course, this is just one study, and your own results might vary, but it’s worth a shot. Overall, it may help certain ideas and concepts stick. For more information, check out the links below.

The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall | The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology via NY Magazine

Photo by StartupStockPhotos.

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from some of our favorite to-do apps, Wunderlist and Any.Do, which means it’s a perfect time for a fresh look at both apps. Both are still some of the best, cross-platform, free to-do managers available, but let’s see how far they’ve come.

The Contenders

If you’ve spent any time at Lifehacker, you already know Any.do and Wunderlist. They’ve been featured in many of our roundups of great to-do list managers. We’re going to assume that you have some familiarity with them—they’re both to-do apps, they’re largely desktop and mobile, and have similar features to help you organize your to-dos, add them on the go, be reminded of them, and hopefully, get things done—but if not, here are the basics:

http://lifehacker.com/5924093/five-b…

  • Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a cross-platform to-do list and project organizer, with apps for Windows and OS X, Android and iOS, Windows Phone, the web, and more. It’s clearly one of our favorites, and earned our pick as the best for Windows, for Mac, and for Android. It’s streamlined, simple and easy to use, features timed reminders so you don’t miss a task, notes and additional information for each item, and it keeps all of your to-dos and due dates on the web and synchronized across devices. If you prefer, just use the webapp to manage your to-dos.
  • Any.do: Any.do is a web-forward to-do list manager, with apps for Android and iOS, a Chrome app and extension, and a webapp. It’s our current favorite for the iPhone, and while at times it can be a bit spartan when it comes to features like customizable reminders and subtasks, its focus on simplicity and availability has made it a more than popular pick with tons of extra features under the hood. Like any good to-do manager, it syncs your to-dos and account across devices, is available on the web, and keeps track of your items so you don’t have to.

While some of our other favorite to-apps (like Google Keep and Todoist, for example) have picked up regular updates and improvements, these two have been a bit more quiet. In Wunderlist’s case, we assume the veil of silence descended once the company was aqcuired by Microsoft. For Any.Do, it’s not entirely clear. Let’s see where they are today.

How Wunderlist and Any.do Have Changed Lately

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

The fact that Any.do and Wunderlist haven’t made any splashy announcements or updates doesn’t mean they haven’t been making smaller, more incrimental improvements.

For example, a few months ago, Wunderlist updated its Android app to include quick-adding tasks, and integration with Google Now On Tap, and their iPhone and iPad apps got a similar update shortly after. Their Mac app got a similar update a few months earlier that made adding to-dos easier and added a few helpful shortcuts.

http://lifehacker.com/wunderlist-for…

Just last month, Wunderlist unveiled a new plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that works with Outlook on the web, or the desktop version of Outlook included with Microsoft Office 2013, 2016, or Office 365. For its part, the Outlook plugin makes it easier to share to-do lists with collaborators via email, turn email into actionable to-dos, and set reminders based on emails and requests in your inbox. It’s pretty useful, assuming you use Outlook for mail—and in a corporate setting that’s a lot of people. That’s the kind of move we expected to see when Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft. Similarly, Wunderlist recently added itself as a Zapier channel. If you’re not familiar with Zapier, think of it as a kind of IFTTT-like service that connects not just web services, but apps as well.

Over with Any.do, things have been a little more quiet. The app got a big uplift to Any.do 3.0 last year that improved to-do list collaboration, gave you the ability to zoom in and out of lists to check out sub-tasks or related items, and the option to sort all of your individual lists by time, priority, or list views. The new version picked up some design tweaks and improvements, and some usability improvements as well. Since then, the team unveiled a new iPad app that brought all of those same great features to the (slightly) larger screen.

http://lifehacker.com/any-do-adds-a-…

What Wunderlist and Any.do Offer Free and Premium Users

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

At the same time though, a lack of big updates don’t mean nothing is happening. Any.do’s Android app was last updated this week, and its iOS app was updated earlier this month. Wunderlist for Android picked up an very welcome update earlier this month that improved the user experience for Android Wear owners, and its iOS app picked up Apple Watch support not too long ago. All of its apps picked up a necessary update to fix issues with daylight saving time here in the US.

There’s still active development behind the scenes, and lots of attention to bugs, usability, and smooth operation for both apps. It’s a shame we haven’t seen huge feature updates, or big improvements to some of each apps’ biggest issues (recurring tasks are still a common complaint in the app store reviews for both apps, for example), but both services are still working hard to make sure each app has the best to-do management experience available.

Both apps are still freemium, with most of their popular features available without paying anything. You can download any of them on all of your devices, add your to-dos, sync them, and get reminders when they’re due. However, both apps have premium features, and here’s what you get for your money:

  • Wunderlist Pro ($5/mo or $50/yr) unlocks the ability to upload files of any size to attach to your to-dos, delegate tasks to an unlimited number of assignees (useful if you’re using Wunderlist on a team or with family), unlimited subtasks for your to-dos or projects, and additional cosmetic backgrounds to customize the apps. All in all, the pro version takes a few features limited (but still useful) in the free version and opens the door to them completely.
  • Any.do Premium ($3/mo or $27/yr) allows you to share unlimited to-dos with collaborators or assignees (free accounts are limited to one shared task), customizable recurring tasks (free accounts are limited to pre-set recurrances), location-based reminders, support for larger files attached to your to-dos, cosmetic themes for the app, and unlimited use of one of Any.do’s best features, Any.do Moment—a kind of primer for your day that walks you through your to-dos and encourages you to get them done or reschedule them. In Any.do’s case, many of the premium features aren’t available at all in the free version.

All in all, Wunderlist is still in a better place as far as giving you more features for no money, while Any.do offers a huge value for the money you do wind up spending on a premium account. So it may be clear that neither app is quite “dead,” but it’s definitely possible that they both may be slowing down a bit. Their developers are working on bugfixes and stability improvements more than new features, for better or worse. While that definitely makes us sit up and take notice, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

http://lifehacker.com/should-i-use-t…

The Verdict: The Best for You Depends on What (If Anything) You’re Willing to Spend

The battle between Wunderlist and Any.do isn’t one that’s settled easily just by bringing everyone up to speed on where these two popular apps are today.

If we had to judge purely on who’s been busiest adding new features and benefits, and who offers the most bang for no buck at all, we would have to go with Wunderlist. We can’t really see the need for someone to open their wallet for Wunderlist Pro, unless they’re using Wunderlist on a small team.

http://lifehacker.com/the-coolest-ex…

However, for interesting and innovative features, premium or no, and for the most extra useful features for the money should you opt to pay for a premium account, we’d have to turn our eyes to Any.do. Any.do Moment is like a mini “weekly review” you can do every day, which is hugely useful, and they have more flexible recurring tasks—once you pay for them, that is. Any.do may be cheaper, but they definitely offer more features an individual may find useful to manage their own to-dos should you pay for an account upgrade.

http://lifehacker.com/5908816/the-we…

Wunderlist is under the Microsoft umbrella now, which bodes well for its continued existence, upgrades, and support—but it’s possible one day Microsoft will just absorb it and its team for another project. Any.do on the other hand is independent, but it’s been quiet. While users can certainly support it by paying for it and its sister app, Cal, being independent and quiet can be a sign that the doors may close any day now, or they’ll get acquired.

Should that all really matter to you when choosing the best? Not really, but it’s worth considering if you’re planning to spend money, you’re thinking about switching to-do apps, or you’re wondering where these popular picks stand today. With all that in mind, and since they’re both free to start with, try them both to see which one resonates with you the most.

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from some of our favorite to-do apps, Wunderlist and Any.Do, which means it’s a perfect time for a fresh look at both apps. Both are still some of the best, cross-platform, free to-do managers available, but let’s see how far they’ve come.

The Contenders

If you’ve spent any time at Lifehacker, you already know Any.do and Wunderlist. They’ve been featured in many of our roundups of great to-do list managers. We’re going to assume that you have some familiarity with them—they’re both to-do apps, they’re largely desktop and mobile, and have similar features to help you organize your to-dos, add them on the go, be reminded of them, and hopefully, get things done—but if not, here are the basics:

http://lifehacker.com/5924093/five-b…

  • Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a cross-platform to-do list and project organizer, with apps for Windows and OS X, Android and iOS, Windows Phone, the web, and more. It’s clearly one of our favorites, and earned our pick as the best for Windows, for Mac, and for Android. It’s streamlined, simple and easy to use, features timed reminders so you don’t miss a task, notes and additional information for each item, and it keeps all of your to-dos and due dates on the web and synchronized across devices. If you prefer, just use the webapp to manage your to-dos.
  • Any.do: Any.do is a web-forward to-do list manager, with apps for Android and iOS, a Chrome app and extension, and a webapp. It’s our current favorite for the iPhone, and while at times it can be a bit spartan when it comes to features like customizable reminders and subtasks, its focus on simplicity and availability has made it a more than popular pick with tons of extra features under the hood. Like any good to-do manager, it syncs your to-dos and account across devices, is available on the web, and keeps track of your items so you don’t have to.

While some of our other favorite to-apps (like Google Keep and Todoist, for example) have picked up regular updates and improvements, these two have been a bit more quiet. In Wunderlist’s case, we assume the veil of silence descended once the company was aqcuired by Microsoft. For Any.Do, it’s not entirely clear. Let’s see where they are today.

How Wunderlist and Any.do Have Changed Lately

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

The fact that Any.do and Wunderlist haven’t made any splashy announcements or updates doesn’t mean they haven’t been making smaller, more incrimental improvements.

For example, a few months ago, Wunderlist updated its Android app to include quick-adding tasks, and integration with Google Now On Tap, and their iPhone and iPad apps got a similar update shortly after. Their Mac app got a similar update a few months earlier that made adding to-dos easier and added a few helpful shortcuts.

http://lifehacker.com/wunderlist-for…

Just last month, Wunderlist unveiled a new plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that works with Outlook on the web, or the desktop version of Outlook included with Microsoft Office 2013, 2016, or Office 365. For its part, the Outlook plugin makes it easier to share to-do lists with collaborators via email, turn email into actionable to-dos, and set reminders based on emails and requests in your inbox. It’s pretty useful, assuming you use Outlook for mail—and in a corporate setting that’s a lot of people. That’s the kind of move we expected to see when Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft. Similarly, Wunderlist recently added itself as a Zapier channel. If you’re not familiar with Zapier, think of it as a kind of IFTTT-like service that connects not just web services, but apps as well.

Over with Any.do, things have been a little more quiet. The app got a big uplift to Any.do 3.0 last year that improved to-do list collaboration, gave you the ability to zoom in and out of lists to check out sub-tasks or related items, and the option to sort all of your individual lists by time, priority, or list views. The new version picked up some design tweaks and improvements, and some usability improvements as well. Since then, the team unveiled a new iPad app that brought all of those same great features to the (slightly) larger screen.

http://lifehacker.com/any-do-adds-a-…

What Wunderlist and Any.do Offer Free and Premium Users

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

At the same time though, a lack of big updates don’t mean nothing is happening. Any.do’s Android app was last updated this week, and its iOS app was updated earlier this month. Wunderlist for Android picked up an very welcome update earlier this month that improved the user experience for Android Wear owners, and its iOS app picked up Apple Watch support not too long ago. All of its apps picked up a necessary update to fix issues with daylight saving time here in the US.

There’s still active development behind the scenes, and lots of attention to bugs, usability, and smooth operation for both apps. It’s a shame we haven’t seen huge feature updates, or big improvements to some of each apps’ biggest issues (recurring tasks are still a common complaint in the app store reviews for both apps, for example), but both services are still working hard to make sure each app has the best to-do management experience available.

Both apps are still freemium, with most of their popular features available without paying anything. You can download any of them on all of your devices, add your to-dos, sync them, and get reminders when they’re due. However, both apps have premium features, and here’s what you get for your money:

  • Wunderlist Pro ($5/mo or $50/yr) unlocks the ability to upload files of any size to attach to your to-dos, delegate tasks to an unlimited number of assignees (useful if you’re using Wunderlist on a team or with family), unlimited subtasks for your to-dos or projects, and additional cosmetic backgrounds to customize the apps. All in all, the pro version takes a few features limited (but still useful) in the free version and opens the door to them completely.
  • Any.do Premium ($3/mo or $27/yr) allows you to share unlimited to-dos with collaborators or assignees (free accounts are limited to one shared task), customizable recurring tasks (free accounts are limited to pre-set recurrances), location-based reminders, support for larger files attached to your to-dos, cosmetic themes for the app, and unlimited use of one of Any.do’s best features, Any.do Moment—a kind of primer for your day that walks you through your to-dos and encourages you to get them done or reschedule them. In Any.do’s case, many of the premium features aren’t available at all in the free version.

All in all, Wunderlist is still in a better place as far as giving you more features for no money, while Any.do offers a huge value for the money you do wind up spending on a premium account. So it may be clear that neither app is quite “dead,” but it’s definitely possible that they both may be slowing down a bit. Their developers are working on bugfixes and stability improvements more than new features, for better or worse. While that definitely makes us sit up and take notice, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

http://lifehacker.com/should-i-use-t…

The Verdict: The Best for You Depends on What (If Anything) You’re Willing to Spend

The battle between Wunderlist and Any.do isn’t one that’s settled easily just by bringing everyone up to speed on where these two popular apps are today.

If we had to judge purely on who’s been busiest adding new features and benefits, and who offers the most bang for no buck at all, we would have to go with Wunderlist. We can’t really see the need for someone to open their wallet for Wunderlist Pro, unless they’re using Wunderlist on a small team.

http://lifehacker.com/the-coolest-ex…

However, for interesting and innovative features, premium or no, and for the most extra useful features for the money should you opt to pay for a premium account, we’d have to turn our eyes to Any.do. Any.do Moment is like a mini “weekly review” you can do every day, which is hugely useful, and they have more flexible recurring tasks—once you pay for them, that is. Any.do may be cheaper, but they definitely offer more features an individual may find useful to manage their own to-dos should you pay for an account upgrade.

http://lifehacker.com/5908816/the-we…

Wunderlist is under the Microsoft umbrella now, which bodes well for its continued existence, upgrades, and support—but it’s possible one day Microsoft will just absorb it and its team for another project. Any.do on the other hand is independent, but it’s been quiet. While users can certainly support it by paying for it and its sister app, Cal, being independent and quiet can be a sign that the doors may close any day now, or they’ll get acquired.

Should that all really matter to you when choosing the best? Not really, but it’s worth considering if you’re planning to spend money, you’re thinking about switching to-do apps, or you’re wondering where these popular picks stand today. With all that in mind, and since they’re both free to start with, try them both to see which one resonates with you the most.

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from some of our favorite to-do apps, Wunderlist and Any.Do, which means it’s a perfect time for a fresh look at both apps. Both are still some of the best, cross-platform, free to-do managers available, but let’s see how far they’ve come.

The Contenders

If you’ve spent any time at Lifehacker, you already know Any.do and Wunderlist. They’ve been featured in many of our roundups of great to-do list managers. We’re going to assume that you have some familiarity with them—they’re both to-do apps, they’re largely desktop and mobile, and have similar features to help you organize your to-dos, add them on the go, be reminded of them, and hopefully, get things done—but if not, here are the basics:

http://lifehacker.com/5924093/five-b…

  • Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a cross-platform to-do list and project organizer, with apps for Windows and OS X, Android and iOS, Windows Phone, the web, and more. It’s clearly one of our favorites, and earned our pick as the best for Windows, for Mac, and for Android. It’s streamlined, simple and easy to use, features timed reminders so you don’t miss a task, notes and additional information for each item, and it keeps all of your to-dos and due dates on the web and synchronized across devices. If you prefer, just use the webapp to manage your to-dos.
  • Any.do: Any.do is a web-forward to-do list manager, with apps for Android and iOS, a Chrome app and extension, and a webapp. It’s our current favorite for the iPhone, and while at times it can be a bit spartan when it comes to features like customizable reminders and subtasks, its focus on simplicity and availability has made it a more than popular pick with tons of extra features under the hood. Like any good to-do manager, it syncs your to-dos and account across devices, is available on the web, and keeps track of your items so you don’t have to.

While some of our other favorite to-apps (like Google Keep and Todoist, for example) have picked up regular updates and improvements, these two have been a bit more quiet. In Wunderlist’s case, we assume the veil of silence descended once the company was aqcuired by Microsoft. For Any.Do, it’s not entirely clear. Let’s see where they are today.

How Wunderlist and Any.do Have Changed Lately

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

The fact that Any.do and Wunderlist haven’t made any splashy announcements or updates doesn’t mean they haven’t been making smaller, more incrimental improvements.

For example, a few months ago, Wunderlist updated its Android app to include quick-adding tasks, and integration with Google Now On Tap, and their iPhone and iPad apps got a similar update shortly after. Their Mac app got a similar update a few months earlier that made adding to-dos easier and added a few helpful shortcuts.

http://lifehacker.com/wunderlist-for…

Just last month, Wunderlist unveiled a new plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that works with Outlook on the web, or the desktop version of Outlook included with Microsoft Office 2013, 2016, or Office 365. For its part, the Outlook plugin makes it easier to share to-do lists with collaborators via email, turn email into actionable to-dos, and set reminders based on emails and requests in your inbox. It’s pretty useful, assuming you use Outlook for mail—and in a corporate setting that’s a lot of people. That’s the kind of move we expected to see when Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft. Similarly, Wunderlist recently added itself as a Zapier channel. If you’re not familiar with Zapier, think of it as a kind of IFTTT-like service that connects not just web services, but apps as well.

Over with Any.do, things have been a little more quiet. The app got a big uplift to Any.do 3.0 last year that improved to-do list collaboration, gave you the ability to zoom in and out of lists to check out sub-tasks or related items, and the option to sort all of your individual lists by time, priority, or list views. The new version picked up some design tweaks and improvements, and some usability improvements as well. Since then, the team unveiled a new iPad app that brought all of those same great features to the (slightly) larger screen.

http://lifehacker.com/any-do-adds-a-…

What Wunderlist and Any.do Offer Free and Premium Users

2016 To-Do App Showdown: Wunderlist vs. Any.do 

At the same time though, a lack of big updates don’t mean nothing is happening. Any.do’s Android app was last updated this week, and its iOS app was updated earlier this month. Wunderlist for Android picked up an very welcome update earlier this month that improved the user experience for Android Wear owners, and its iOS app picked up Apple Watch support not too long ago. All of its apps picked up a necessary update to fix issues with daylight saving time here in the US.

There’s still active development behind the scenes, and lots of attention to bugs, usability, and smooth operation for both apps. It’s a shame we haven’t seen huge feature updates, or big improvements to some of each apps’ biggest issues (recurring tasks are still a common complaint in the app store reviews for both apps, for example), but both services are still working hard to make sure each app has the best to-do management experience available.

Both apps are still freemium, with most of their popular features available without paying anything. You can download any of them on all of your devices, add your to-dos, sync them, and get reminders when they’re due. However, both apps have premium features, and here’s what you get for your money:

  • Wunderlist Pro ($5/mo or $50/yr) unlocks the ability to upload files of any size to attach to your to-dos, delegate tasks to an unlimited number of assignees (useful if you’re using Wunderlist on a team or with family), unlimited subtasks for your to-dos or projects, and additional cosmetic backgrounds to customize the apps. All in all, the pro version takes a few features limited (but still useful) in the free version and opens the door to them completely.
  • Any.do Premium ($3/mo or $27/yr) allows you to share unlimited to-dos with collaborators or assignees (free accounts are limited to one shared task), customizable recurring tasks (free accounts are limited to pre-set recurrances), location-based reminders, support for larger files attached to your to-dos, cosmetic themes for the app, and unlimited use of one of Any.do’s best features, Any.do Moment—a kind of primer for your day that walks you through your to-dos and encourages you to get them done or reschedule them. In Any.do’s case, many of the premium features aren’t available at all in the free version.

All in all, Wunderlist is still in a better place as far as giving you more features for no money, while Any.do offers a huge value for the money you do wind up spending on a premium account. So it may be clear that neither app is quite “dead,” but it’s definitely possible that they both may be slowing down a bit. Their developers are working on bugfixes and stability improvements more than new features, for better or worse. While that definitely makes us sit up and take notice, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

http://lifehacker.com/should-i-use-t…

The Verdict: The Best for You Depends on What (If Anything) You’re Willing to Spend

The battle between Wunderlist and Any.do isn’t one that’s settled easily just by bringing everyone up to speed on where these two popular apps are today.

If we had to judge purely on who’s been busiest adding new features and benefits, and who offers the most bang for no buck at all, we would have to go with Wunderlist. We can’t really see the need for someone to open their wallet for Wunderlist Pro, unless they’re using Wunderlist on a small team.

http://lifehacker.com/the-coolest-ex…

However, for interesting and innovative features, premium or no, and for the most extra useful features for the money should you opt to pay for a premium account, we’d have to turn our eyes to Any.do. Any.do Moment is like a mini “weekly review” you can do every day, which is hugely useful, and they have more flexible recurring tasks—once you pay for them, that is. Any.do may be cheaper, but they definitely offer more features an individual may find useful to manage their own to-dos should you pay for an account upgrade.

http://lifehacker.com/5908816/the-we…

Wunderlist is under the Microsoft umbrella now, which bodes well for its continued existence, upgrades, and support—but it’s possible one day Microsoft will just absorb it and its team for another project. Any.do on the other hand is independent, but it’s been quiet. While users can certainly support it by paying for it and its sister app, Cal, being independent and quiet can be a sign that the doors may close any day now, or they’ll get acquired.

Should that all really matter to you when choosing the best? Not really, but it’s worth considering if you’re planning to spend money, you’re thinking about switching to-do apps, or you’re wondering where these popular picks stand today. With all that in mind, and since they’re both free to start with, try them both to see which one resonates with you the most.

Put Your Done List at the Forefront for Extra Motivation

Put Your Done List at the Forefront for Extra Motivation

Keep the things you’ve recently accomplished at the top of your mind, and you might boost your momentum and productivity.

That’s how Lyndi Thompson, a demand marketer at Tableau, organizes her Trello board. The board is also structured for an agile workflow, with lists that track current tasks and “next up.”

You can use this template if you’re a Trello user or just apply the “done first” strategy with whatever list tool you use. The list can also help as a reference for quarterly or yearly retrospectives. In any case, a “done” list can be very motivating, so remember to start your day reviewing and tracking those completed tasks.

An Agile Trello Workflow That Keeps Tasks Flexible | Trello

Beware of “Completion Bias” When Working Through Your To-Do List

Beware of "Completion Bias" When Working Through Your To-Do List

Checking things off of your to-do list feels great, and that feeling can even make you more productive. That same feeling, however, can also keep you from tackling larger, more important tasks.

“Completion bias” is when your brain specifically seeks the pleasure completing a task brings. Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Bradley Staats, an associate professor at North Carolina University, explain that completion bias can trick you into focusing on only small tasks because you’ll want to experience that positive feeling more. You spend the day taking on small, easy tasks (like answering emails, doing busy work, or other general housekeeping tasks) and feel like you’re being productive. But when you look back at what you accomplished in the day, you realize you barely made a dent in your actual work. Unchecked, completion bias can bring your productivity to a grinding halt, and even ruin your ability to make a decent to-do list.

To fix it, Gino and Staats suggest you mix up your to-dos so you’re not just taking on the small stuff. Do an easy task, then use that good feeling as momentum to take on a more difficult task, and repeat. And when you make your to-do lists, be sure to include the more difficult tasks that will impact your important work along with the easy stuff. You can learn more at the link below.

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Your Desire to Get Things Done Can Undermine Your Effectiveness | Harvard Business Review

Photo by LaShawn Wiltz.

Learn the Basics of Making Effective Lists in this One Minute Video

We’ve covered a whole lot of tips on how to make great lists, but if you want a quick refresher of the basics, Flikli’s short video is a good place to start.

None of the advice is particularly new, but it’s good advice nonetheless, like:

The video is a quick primer, but you can check any of the above links for more information on a particular step.

Fantastic Tips for Using Lists Brilliantly | Vimeo via Design Taxi

Strikethru Makes Paper Productive by Combining GTD and Bullet Journal

Strikethru Makes Paper Productive by Combining GTD and Bullet Journal

If you prefer a pen and a notebook to digital to-do lists, then there’s a new productivity system on the block. Strikethru combines elements of the GTD method and the Bullet Journal for a new handwritten productivity technique.

As the system’s maker Chris explains on Reddit, all you need is a book and a pen. There are three basic parts to Strikethru:

  • The Live List: Your active to-do list for the day, which you fill the previous night with a 5-minute review. Limit yourself to only nine tasks in a day. Each task also has a priority circle to decide the order to tackle them.
  • The Dump: A place to jot down all your tasks and ideas in the book.
  • The Vault: Specific lists go into the vault, with a two-letter tag in a square for each. Like “Pr” for Project, “Wk” for Weekly, and so on.
  • Calendars: If you schedule tasks, add calendars to the start of your book and place the tasks in the appropriate daily, weekly, or monthly column.

The Lite system of Strikethru uses just the first two parts, the Standard system adds the Vault, and the Pro system adds calendars. Chris adds that you can combine Strikethru with other popular productivity systems like the Kanban method or the Pomodoro technique.

Head to the site and you can download an instructional guide on detailed steps to make your own Strikethru book. And yeah, the new productivity-focused Moleskine books might be a good companion!

Strikethru | via Reddit

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It’s Made Gaming So Much Better

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It's Made Gaming So Much Better

We all strive to be more productive at work. We dream about having a perfectly crafted to-do list that you actually stick to. I’ve unlocked this achievement, but it wasn’t at the office. My perfect to-do list helps me get things done…in video games.

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This may seem incredibly silly, but it works for the same reason it does in real life. The human mind is fallible, and in an open RPG like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto, there’s too much to do for you to keep track of it all in your head. So, as classic productivity advice dictates, you’re better off getting it out of your head and into a system.

For me, that system is Wunderlist, my to-do app of choice—though the principle probably works in any productivity app you like (even something like Evernote). Here’s why it works.

To-Do Lists Succeed Where Your Quest Log Fails

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It's Made Gaming So Much Better

Most open-world RPGs have some sort of “quest system” that keeps track of what you have to do. “Lord Doucheking the Third requests that you find this cave and kill the spiders and bring him the other half of a medallion that he lost when he was drunk in wizard college”. You know, typical video game stuff.

But as those quests add up, the in-game quest log becomes inadequate for tracking them all. Skyrim, for example, doesn’t let you abandon quests, which means quest clutter adds up quickly. The Witcher 3 only lets you track one quest on your map at a time, which makes it harder to “kill two birds with one stone” while on that weekend getaway in Skellige. And games almost never take into account non-quest tasks, like collecting components for that awesome set of Dragon Bone Armor you want to make.

For example, here’s a general overview of things I have to do in Skyrim right now:

  • Do a thieves’ guild quest near Riften
  • Search for a cult that has set up camp east of Windhelm
  • Visit a statue west of Solitude, which will start a quest that gets me a shiny new sword
  • Talk to some guy in Windhelm because my friend told me it starts a really cool quest
  • Offload some of my loot in Riften

The quest my friend told me about isn’t in my log yet, because I haven’t started it. I know I’ll want to get that sword before doing anything else, since it’ll make the other quests easier to tackle. Both Windhelm quests are near one another, so I should do those together. I also need to remember to offload this loot at a merchant, which is near one of my regular quests, but isn’t in my quest log because it isn’t really a “quest”.

You can see how the quest system isn’t built to manage this type of task organization. But Wunderlist is:

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It's Made Gaming So Much Better

A to-do list helps you fill in the blanks where the quest system fails. You can look at your quest log and in-game map to plan out the stuff you want to do next efficiently, rather than trying to remember the ideal order and non-logged quests.

To-Do Lists Give You Context

Furthermore, quest logs don’t always give you enough information to remember the entire backstory behind a quest. “Wait, why am I looking for this amulet?” “I’m supposed to talk to this person, but it doesn’t seem to move the quest along. Was there something else I needed to do?” “What the heck am I supposed to do with this talking dog?” When your game doesn’t offer context, your to-do list can.

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It's Made Gaming So Much Better

When I add new stuff to my to-do list, I’ll often take some of the more complex tasks and add a link to a quest walkthrough. That way, when I inevitably forget why I was going somewhere, I can check the Notes field in Wunderlist for more information. You can also jot down your own notes, like loot you want to pick up along the way, or spells you’ll want to have at the ready.

To-Do Lists Help You Pick Up After Time Away from a Game

This article may make it seem like I never leave the land of Skyrim, but I’m actually a pretty casual gamer. Real life always comes first, which means I’ll occasionally go days or weeks without playing. But that means that when I come back, I inevitably forget my grand plan for all the cool stuff I was going to do next.

This is what originally inspired my first Skyrim to-do list: No matter how much time you take off, if you’ve written down where you are and what’s next on your docket, you can pick up your game without skipping a beat. Without my to-do list, I’d spend 15 minutes just getting re-acquainted with my quest log and mapping out my next moves. I don’t have time for that. I only have 30 minutes to play before I have to get dinner on the stove and spend some time with my wife.

To-Do Lists Get You Through Your Backlog of Games

I Have a To-Do List Just for Skyrim, and It's Made Gaming So Much Better

Lastly, to-do lists help me make my way through my Steam backlog. Yes, it’s not an in-game to-do list, per se, but it’s still incredibly useful. If you’re anything like me, you have quite a few unplayed games, undoubtedly from last year’s Steam Summer Sale. I use my to-do list to track them.

I have a list in Wunderlist dedicated solely to what I’m playing next. The order isn’t set in stone—I can rearrange things depending on my mood at any given time—but a rough skeleton keeps me from playing too many games at once, and helps me alternate my 6-hour shooters with my 40-hour RPGs so I don’t get burned out on one genre. I’ll even check howlongtobeat.com and put the number of hours in the Notes section, so I know what I’m getting myself into before I move a game to the top of my list. Like the other tips above, it’s a little thing that makes a big difference.

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