Over the last few months I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed by the rigors of managing two websites, freelance work, and carving out personal time to deal with the important things. Up until recently I scoffed at the idea of using to-do lists and apps for keeping it all together – possibly out of some misguide pride on my part. After trying to keep it all together without any help and failing on so many levels, I jumped in head first and left my life in the hands of the cloud; sort of.
The first thing I needed to identify was how I would go about managing all of my lists, tasks, and other responsibilities. Out of personal preference, I never wanted to fully subscribe to any single app ecosystem. I still have an Android table (a gifted Samsung Galaxy Tab 2), a Windows Phone, various iOS devices, and a MacBook Air. My initial plan of action was to create multiple calendars and reminders via my Google Drive account, here’s how it went.
Google’s Calendar allows you to set up different calendars with different sharing privileges and can push these to your various devices linked by your Google account. In theory it should be a clean way to track all my events, to-dos, deadlines, and appointments with the added benefit of sending myself a reminder (usually in the form of an email) and herein lies the problem – I’ve made it a point to not check my email very often. Why? Mainly because email is the biggest anti-productivity task I do. It’s a rabbit hole who’s only competition is a random Wikipedia search.
Although I’ve tried my best at being platform agnostic, the truth is we all play favorites. For me that means that I spend more time with my iOS devices than anything else, so it was only natural that I began to look into some apps that might help me getting everything organized. I’ve tried too many in the course of this article but let’s focus on the three that got to stay on my iPhone and iPod Touch.
Reminders+ is a lot like the default Reminders app on iOS with some notable differences; not only does Reminders+ give you the option to create reminders by location, but you also get the the flexibility of specifying how soon or later you’d like to be reminded within arriving at the location. For example, the particular Target Pharmacy which I specified in my test run is on the second floor of the Atlantic Terminal Mall whereas the general radius that triggers the alert is within a block of your destination. By giving myself some additional time before getting the alert I’m actually in the place I need to be and not distracted by shiny, cheap things not on my list.
Reminders+ takes it one step further by allowing you to set up alarms for recurring tasks, say feeding a pet on a schedule or making you carve out time for things like exercise; Reminders+ helps you actually keep to your schedule if you need the nudge.
The Timers feature is one that I hadn’t used often, though is handy in a pinch. In my personal use of the feature it works though sometimes I worry that it would break my mental flow if I adhere to too strict of a schedule. Still, if you’ve ever heard the phrase, “I’ll call you back in 30 minutes” from me and I actually called you back in those 30 minutes, you can be pretty confident in knowing that I penciled that in.
If there is a caveat here, is that it requires a cellular connection – so if you plan on using this on an iPod Touch you’re out of luck.
Reminders+ is great for keeping track of all the things you have to do AFTK, but remember all those calendars I created in the beginning (across various accounts), I still needed to know what was going on without having to go digging through all those emails. Cue is one of my favorite organization apps that not only brings in all those miscellaneous calendars and and even your Facebook Events and Reminders (so though I have no excuse to forget your birthday high school friend I don’t ever speak to any more, I probably still will. Sorry.)
But don’t think for a minute that Cue’s only strength is it’s ability to pull your info from Facebook, instead think of Cue as your one-stop app for all of your online presence – including that AOL account that you don’t fess up to. Cue also pulls in relevant data like the local forecast, upcoming events in your iOS Calendar or web based calendars, and even Twitter. Best of all, you get just about all your online calendars in one place for free.
If this all seems like too much play and not enough work, a subscription to Cue’s Premium accounts might be the thing you need. The Premium subscription ($4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly options available) allow you to link Evernote, Yammer, Basecamp, Campfire, and even Salesforce accounts.
As an added bonus, you can even stay organized when not by your iOS device by logging in on CueUp.com.
The main reason I started down this road was because my life was becoming too cluttered with data overload. Too many things were happening; too many alerts, too many accounts to look at, Cue has plenty going for it but it was starting to get just as cluttered as that old inbox. I needed an information detox.
Clear is the equivalent of a basic to-do list but with some added functionality. Clear’s big selling point is in its simplicity: drag down to create a new list, swipe left to check off, swipe right to delete, tap down to add a new task. It’s that simple. Clear’s other strength is that I can take my lists with me thanks to iCloud integration.
Whether on my iPod or iPhone, my Clear lists are with me when and where I need them. By helping me see what needs to get done and then being able to keep track of what gets done Clear has won me over and is now a part of my morning ritual. (Also, clearing a to-do list also includes some words of inspiration as an Easter Egg of sorts.)
Clear’s price tag may be a little steep if you’re looking at it as just another to-do list but just give it a shot and you truly will be blown away by its simple elegance. You can pick up it up here for $1.99.