5 Simple, Yet Effective Online To-do Apps to Get Stuff Done

I’ve decided my primary focus this year to be on improving my productivity. Almost 4 months have passed. Lots of lessons learned. One of them was: do not make things complex if they can be kept simple. Same with to-do lists. Below you have 5 very simple, yet powerful online to-do tools you might find useful.

I’ve done my best to help you make an informed choice by listing and reviewing the best tools I found so far.

1. TeuxDeux

What is TeuxDux: A very simple web app where you can make to-do list for your next 7 days. I guess they did this because they recommend to plan your week upfront (which makes sense).

Why is it useful: It’s simple and easy to understand. Also it’s very user-friendly. I was able to start using it after 30 seconds literally without any confusion.

My experience with it: I’ve decided to play around with it and create a simple to-do list with not-so-simple-to-do items :). Take a look:

Okay :), not the best list in terms of breaking things down (I’ll let you know what I mean by that later) but gives you a pretty good idea on how can you make your list. You see how intuitive the interface is?

2. Ta-da Lists

What is Ta-Da lists: This is a tool created by 37 Signals, the guys who are responsible for inventing Ruby on Rails . As you can suppose, Ta-Da lists is also created with this programming language.

Why is it useful: Simple, easy to understand and very intuitive. You can create lists for a group of tasks and share every list easily. Sign up required 10 seconds, as you can see from the above picture (my experience also confirms this.)

My experience with it: I’ve played around with Ta-da lists and found it very easy to learn. Again, here’s a simple to-do list:

Oh well, I live in a village, you know :)

3. HiTask

What is HiTask: This is a bit more complicated web tool than the previous two. HiTask is a detailed tool, you can set up tasks at exact time on an exact day.

Why is it useful: You can set up projects, invite team members and easily turn HiTask from a simple to-do software to a powerful team management tool. It’s your choice whether to keep it simple or go more complex (remember, if you don’t have to, don’t over-complicated stuff.)

My experience with it: Their interface left me a good impression. You have a screen shot below:

Next!

4. Remember The Milk


What is Remember the Milk: I would say this is a semi-complicated (using it in context where simple is a “to do checklist” and nothing else, see #1 for an example) application for getting stuff done. You can categorize your activities in different categories, the default ones are Personal/Study/Work.

Why is it useful: Remember the Milk is useful if you need lists for things to do at home, school or work. No default set up is required to organize these tasks.

My experience with it: I’ve played around with this application a bit, here’s a screen shot below:

5. Todoist

What is Todoist: Another great web app for to-do items. The unique thing here is that you can create sub-projects and have a calendar you can utilize.

Why is it useful: Well, they were kind to answer this question instead of me:

My experience with it: …has been great so far. Very intuitive and easy to understand, as you’ll see from the screen shot below:

2 Things To Remember When Making To-do lists

I told you I’m a productivity freak. Here are 2 useful things to remember when doing to-do lists:

  • Break things down. For example, if you write ‘clean out the office’ and think that’s a to-do item, well, you’re wrong. That’s more like a project. ‘Clean out the office’ is a COLLECTION of tasks, not a task itself. So if you have this ‘project’ in mind, then break it down into several ‘to do items’ like ‘shred unneeded paperwork’ and so on.
  • Don’t be vague. When you write your to-do items, be specific. For example, if you need to add an effect to a Photoshop image, don’t write ‘add Photoshop effect.’ Write down WHICH effect you need to add. Possibly, also write where you need to add it. Your purpose is to look at the to-do item and know immediately what you need to do without thinking very much.

By the way, the principles above are from a book I own named “Upgrade your Life” from LifeHacker which I found very useful for improving my productivity.

Congratulate yourself because you are already taking action and are in the next stage where you’re learning how to take action more efficiently. I hope this article helped you with that.

Darren

Executive editor of FinderMind magazine, a people search engine on helping you find long-lost friends.

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Comments

  1. Ryan says

    I’m wondering if you’d do a review of

    It’s got a few features that are quite useful such as templates, the ability to merge lists and a side window so you can always see your lists.

  2. Simon H says

    Nice list, cheers. I have used a couple on there already, but will have a look at the others.

    The only one I have got along with ok is todoist. Really just looking for one where I can store:
    Client
    Task
    Duration
    Priority

    and display in a grid with the ability to sort/filter by priority. Don’t need much other than that Just using Excel for the mo :)

  3. Jae Xavier says

    Nice article… considering that the iPad has already come out. Are you Mac fanboi?

    Google Apps does a good job too.

  4. Julianntrott says

    Have tried RTM and Ta-da-list! but I’ve never liked it! Not so easy and I don’t have any iPhone to use with…
    I just do everything with Gmail and Google Calendar

  5. says

    Something a little more well-rounded makes sense to me like iCal or something that has a few different things to tie in to your to-do list like Mac Mail. I can’t see wasting my time logging into a Web site to put together or check a to-do list. Maybe if these sites had a widget that I could use from my dashboard it would work.

  6. Helen says

    I tend to overcomplicate stuff and have too many apps so I use this http://nowdothis.com/
    for an everyday list.
    That is I write 1-5 things I must do today (tomorrow when I plan) which might be taken from my other organizeeverythingthe wholeyearapps. Also good to split todo into very small steps because it feels good to just see one thing to do, concentrate and then click “done”.

  7. Web Risorsa says

    It’s a good collection.. But have it online if it’s offline one then that would be great… because every one cannot get into website to enter their works and get ‘s updated.. if it’s a local and offline then they can have it all the time…

  8. says

    ah, there are really a lot of such small sites, I guess we just need to stay with one which works for us the best or change if do not works :) Thanks for sharing though.

  9. says

    Hm, I prefer my analog notebooks for things like this. You’re not depending on batteries or internet that way :)

    • says

      I agree! :) I am using my moleskine and take it wherever I go, though when I am working on computer it’s not always the best way. If I need to save links and texts from Internet,it just do not work so good. I prefer just to use both :)

  10. Jacob says

    They all suck ! Why ?

    Darren is right, Break things down ! But to do this… You need to either pay for the sub-items option or some of them simply don’t offer that option.

    Piece of paper and pen is still the best way…

    • says

      I wouldn’t give up so fast, there are a lot of promising apps and seems you just haven’t found the right one yet.

      Paper and pen works for me though as well daily.

    • Nate Chastain says

      @Jacob One thing you could do is get yourself a Remember the Milk account, create a task, and list all of its subtasks within a “note” on the task. Then, if you forget what the next step is towards completing the task, you can reference the note.

      I would say that Remember the Milk is the obvious choice for a to-do list, for ALL purposes – daily tasks, long-term tasks, etc. It not only has the best web interface (in my opinion), but it has pretty decent customer support + forums where the users post a lot of interesting tips for using the service. Also, most phones now have Remember the Milk apps available – these sync with the Web interface, so if you add a task from your phone, it also shows up on your web service and vice versa. My 0.02

      • says

        Integration with phone is very good – I am not trying Teuxdeux and TodoIst, in next week will test Remember The milk fully too :) thanks for sharing and opinion!

  11. Lena Tailor says

    Appreciate your efforts in putting this together.Really useful share. I was searching for this list weeks ago…
    Thanks…

  12. says

    HiTask looks like the one that would work for me. I would like something that is easy to use and keep track of items. Right now my desk is full of post-its and that’s not working.