Mighty Life List
Sep 12 2016

Apps that Help Me with Habits and To Do Lists

My perfect daily schedule would be a glass of wine every night and an otherwise open calendar. But I’m pretty into my kids, and my husband, and my work, and my health too — and all of that requires some day-to-day maintenance.

I’m terrible at it.

One of my goals for this year was to get better at life maintenance by sticking to a routine 80 percent of the time. I’m already a list maker, but I finally figured out that I feel a greater sense of accomplishment, and am more willing to do repetitive tasks, if I break my lists up into categories. Otherwise my tasks never end, and neither does my work day.

For the last few months, I’ve tried dozens of habit and to-do apps, and hoooo-eee! Most of them are ugly and frustrating. Here are a handful I’ve found that are pretty and functional, and how I’m using them.

STREAKS

maggiestreaks

I start my day with my most crucial health habits, because those are the most likely to fall by the wayside. Streaks tracks how many days in a row you’ve done something, and how often you do it. It only lets you have six goals, and once you’ve checked all of them off for the day, the icons turn gold. So satisfying.

MINIMALIST

maggiminimalist

I’m ramping back up with work, so MinimaList is where I keep internal projects I want to check in with every day. It lets you schedule repeat tasks, and set a timer that blocks you from phone distractions while you’re working on one.

TEUXDEUX

maggieteuxdeux

Teuxdeux is my priority list for non-habit tasks, stuff I need to finish in the next few days. I try to limit myself to five tasks here and work through them before I add more. I’ve been using Teux Deux for years, it’s a super simple, pretty to do list. I find it’s really flexible and can be hacked for whatever type of list I want to keep there.

BALANCED and PRODUCTIVE

maggiebalanced

I’ve mentioned Balanced before. This is where I put life-maintenance and repetitive tasks for personal goals, like learning French. You choose your icon and color, how often you’d like to complete a task, and list as many tasks as you like. It also tracks how often you complete things.

Productive looks and works exactly like Balanced, it’s pretty much a clone, but it lets me keep a second list that’s more oriented toward my life after work. This is where I put tasks that help me maintain relationships, like playing games with the boys, or making plans with friends, and reminders to do some of the things that make me happy, like reading or doing something on my Life List.

THINGS

maggiethings

Things is a to do list based on the Getting Things Done methodology, which is a great organization system for all the ideas and work you want to record. You can use it on your phone or desktop, and it has all the list making functionality I’ve ever needed. It offers an Inbox for collecting tasks before you organize them, lists for Today, Next, Scheduled, and Someday, plus a Projects list that allows for sub-tasks that step you toward project completion.

I mostly love Things for the projects feature, but this app is where I do my thinking and planning, and how I save ideas for later. I don’t necessarily interact with it every day anymore.

If you use and love an app I didn’t mention, please let me know. I’m always tweaking, and I find that using a fresh app can keep me motivated to do things I was procrastinating over before.

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4 Responses to “Apps that Help Me with Habits and To Do Lists”

  • Ellen Says:

    I looooove Wunderlist and Daily Tracker. Wunderlist is like a fancy to do list, but the best part is it allows a due date and recurring tasks. So, I can put in “change air filters” and then set it to recur in 3 months, and I don’t have to think about the last time I did that or changed the sheets or any of that maintenance stuff. I also have steps in there towards bigger goals – every three days I work on a photo book or whatever large looming tasks that only happen with tiny bites. You can set up lots of separate lists, so I also have in there TV shows to watch, shopping lists, etc.., and you can share them with other members. So when husband says, I’ll go to the store, he can see the list & check stuff off.

    So what I do is take what’s “due” today, whether it’s normal daily to dos or more random maintenance that has popped up and put it in my bullet journal – if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. Plus, then I can see a monthly calendar on paper, which is HUGE for me. Then, I only focus on today.

    I used Daily Tracker for what it seems you’re using Streaks for, but I stopped because I’m pregnant & tracking how much water I drink and exercise I get, etc… in a pregnancy app. I may or may not go back to that once I have the baby, but we’ll see. It was a good routine – did I do the dishes by 8:30, did I follow my work routine, did I drink enough water, exercise, floss, etc…

  • Michelle Says:

    I like Nozbe for my Getting Thungs Done lists. It syncs across all my devices and is available through my browser when I’m on my work computer. Tasks can belong to projects, be labeled with contexts like “errands” or “phone” and have checklists and attachments. You can also label them with time estimates, which I find helps tremendously with both slotting tasks into my day and keeping me from spending too long on something when good enough is good enough.

  • Michelle Says:

    I like Nozbe for my Getting Things Done lists. It syncs across all my devices and is available through my browser when I’m on my work computer. Tasks can belong to projects, be labeled with contexts like “errands” or “phone” and have checklists and attachments. You can also label them with time estimates, which I find helps tremendously with both slotting tasks into my day and keeping me from spending too long on something when good enough is good enough.

  • Amy Says:

    I use Fantastical 2 most (Apple only). It merged my reminders and my calendar on my phone, so I see both in one place. Super functional, and I can tell it to “make a new event for 2pm on the third Wednesday of every month” – and it does! I of course use the native note app for frequently-used lists (I appreciate so much that they finally added folders). Evernote for more long-term note storage. And you interdicted me to Balanced and it was great until I forgot to keep paying attention to it and now my eyes glaze over its red alert dot.

    This app and Paprika (for recipes) are honestly a big reason for me wanting to switch to a mac to match my iPhone. I’m currently saving any gift money.