Task Management

I have tried unsuccessfully to use a task manager many times over the years. I must have tried to use Outlook's task feature a dozen times unsuccessfully before leaving Outlook for the Google Apps Suite.

With the advent of mobile and web apps, and the combination of them, I have tried again, hoping that the mix of web and mobile might change things for me. My most recent attempt was a mobile and web app called Wunderlist. I am sure some of you use it. And I am sure some of you use other task managers.

I know that I am a highly disorganized person and it is all that I can do to manage (badly) my email and calendar (with a lot of help). I have not been able to add tasks and notes to my workflow.

I do put tasks in my calendar all the time. In fact, I have one coming up in a few minutes that I am going to take care of this morning. But putting them in my calendar, I achieve two things; 1) add a time dimension which creates urgency and 2) decrease the number of apps I need to actively use.

There is a Kik card called Remember The Beer that does something pretty awesome and that is allow me to easily share tasks. I create them in the card and then Kik them to the Gotham Gal, one of my colleagues, or one of my kids. It's lightweight, easy, and social and viral.

I think that's the only way tasks are going to work for me. And as I talk to others about tasks, I have noticed that a lot of people are like me and don't use task managers. I think if someone was able to make task sharing lightweight, viral, and social, they could change this dynamic and convert the large group of us who want to but can't use a task manager.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Jon Smirl

    You know about the Tasks feature of Gmail, right? From a browser click on the red Gmail drop down above Compose and click tasks. That UI will keep a prioritized task list on your Gmail page and it has Google calendar integration.

    1. fredwilson

      i did not know about it. i will give it a try. thanks.

    2. William Mougayar

      I tried it, but it doesn’t show on Mobile and it didn’t integrate with the Calendar function when I added a Due date, right?

      1. tsella

        Yep. No mobile IIRC. I just checked again. It just became a useless minimized window for me after a while.

        1. William Mougayar

          exactly. standalone stuff is tough to make it stick these days. i would have expected at least a Google Calendar integration, so you could at least intercept them there, but it doesn’t do it.

        2. Jeremiah Zinn

          There are a bunch of third party apps that do a great job of providing mobile support. I use an android app called gtask organizer. Pretty bare bones but works for me.

  2. DarkUFO

    Personally I use Remember the Milk, has great Android/IOS apps, a chrome extension and can be used in your Gmail tab or standalone tab.

    1. felixc

      Remember the Milk is a great service. And the mobile apps work well. It’s a lightweight service that can also remind you via SMS, app notifications, or email when something is due.My issues:1. Not really social – especially since Asana launched2. Can’t store attachments and files – though there’s an option that will link to Evernote.

  3. Zee.

    it seems like the most attempted problem to fix yet the one that remains unfixed. Perhaps it’s unfixable. Everyone works differently.My feeling is that if someone can create an app that allows easy assignment of tasks, based on specific goals that everyone is aligned with, then perhaps there’s potential for everyone to use the task management app they prefer but still remain tuned into what everyone else (i.e. their team, clients, family) is doing and the purpose/goals behind each task.Not an easy task though… pardon the pun.

  4. Matt A. Myers

    The issue I have is different tasks are always at a different point of readiness for action. Some tasks I need more thought on, and so they hit my calendar – but then I can bump them when I’m not ready – though by having the reminder, as you said, adds a factor of urgency.I use a calendar, emailing myself notes, and a notepad. I’ll need a new notepad shortly as this one is almost full – happens every 2 months or so – where I put down ideas in part or whole and their evolutions, and only once something becomes actionable, or a piece of it, does it hit my calendar.I remember reading an article many years ago of someone who was trying to figure out how the most successful CEOs managed their tasks – to see if there was a standard formula that could be shared. It turned out that every CEO had pretty much a unique way that they functioned relating to tasking. I’m sure it relates to how each person’s brain works, what and how much they’re processing at once, and what their overall responsibilities and functions are relating to tasks.I know there are some improvements that could exist to making it easier for me, and others, though I’ll see if I get to the point of implementing that solution – or rather not sure when that will happen, I’m not there yet anyhow.

  5. Howard Lerman

    I think the biggest reason people fail with task managers (myself included) is because they fail to break the task into a sufficiently discreet chunk that can be accomplished. My lists are always filled with large projects that have no obvious conclusions like “Figure out Go-To-Market strategy for India” or “Keep thinking about brand name for new feature”. It’s kind of hard to allocate the appropriate amount of time upfront to that kind of thing, plus, at least in the first kind of example, it’s not obvious when the task is complete. The people who win with task managers have tasks broken into the smallest possible next step like “mow the lawn” or “call john back”

    1. sprugman

      OTOH, it’s easy to spend ages organizing your task list, rather than getting things done ™.

  6. Mitch Flindell

    I have played with a lot of these ideas for a while now and what I have realised is that people don’t want to be doing “task management”, myself included. I’m building something more like favourites for things you should do later and when it becomes important I just drag it into my calendar or into an email. There’s not really any task management involved because it’s just a way for me to remember things

  7. htmiguel

    Read Getting Things Done again, or at least skim it for the main points. Then signup for Asana. It’s the last Task Manager you’ll ever need. It’s as complex or as simple as you need it to be. Adding tasks is as simple. They can be tagged, grouped, searched, divided and broken down into smaller subtasks. Sync it with your calendar. Add tasks with the Chrome plugin from anywhere. Email tasks to yourself.Use it by yourself, have different areas for work and personal (or mix them up)… share certain parts with other people while maintaining a sense of privacy of what’s being shared.Great engineering team behind it, and fantastic experience.I’ve tried everything and realize task management is a very personal thing, but I stand by these guys as I’ve been using it consistently for over a year.(edit: The mobile app is just ok)

    1. John McGrath

      Agreed, Asana is the only task manager I’ve ever been able to stick with. In part I think because it’s just a beautifully designed and functional webapp–it’s pleasant to use.That said, my Asana workspaces tend to fill with cruft just like every other system I’ve ever tried. I’m at least as likely to put a sticky note on my monitor, write a bullet list in a text file, or send an email to myself, as I am to create a proper Asana task.

    2. felixc

      Agreed on many of the great strengths of asana.The one problem I have is that you have to have network connectivity for your tasks. You can’t take your tasks offline. That’s one strong point of mobile apps like Omnifocus or Remember The Milk.

    3. sachmo

      Agree 100% with this comment. GTD and Asana work well together. But GTD did not fully click until I started practicing Agile… the biweekly sprint and estimation is a powerful tool.

  8. LIAD

    Task managers are like writing a diary and keeping new year resolutions. You know they’re beneficial and you really should be utilising them but after a day or two. Meh.We all subconsciously maximise utility. No one ever left the house forgetting to put their trousers on. If something’s important enough. We will get it done without the need for an app to remind us.

    1. fredwilson

      I think that’s how the majority of people think about this category

      1. panterosa,

        Lots of to do’s are so boring that crossing them off the list is more fun.

      2. fl1nty

        Reminds me of the joke in seinfeld about making reservations in the car rental location. You know how to take reservations, you just don’t know how to hold them.If you think of a task that is added to your task list as a future reservation of your time then all you have to hold/keep the reservation and you are golden. Sadly this is the hardest part ๐Ÿ™

    2. David Semeria

      But I think that’s the whole point of task managers.They pester us to do the things we know we need to do, but really don’t want to.They’re procrastination preventers – which is why I don’t use them…

    3. Scott Barnett

      That is true – although there are many tasks that don’t get done regularly, so your brain doesn’t automagically remember them. That’s why there is a need to write stuff down.My problem is app-overload. I just can’t get myself to use multiple apps for this stuff. I’ve tried Evernote, Remember the Milk and a few others, but after a few days, I just forget they are there.The only thing that works consistently for me is to actually put tasks in Google Calendar – I give them 15 minute intervals (and usually just before and after business hours for personal stuff) – so I don’t overload too many things into a single day. If a task involves my wife or somebody else, I’ll invite them to the task (until they tell me to stop :-)This isn’t perfect, but it works for me.

    4. LE

      Agree with most of what you are saying – behaviorally correct.But this:”No one ever left the house forgetting to put their trousers on.”That’s what I call an “auto” task. (Like a “shell built in”).Something which you don’t have to remember to do because there is a sequence of events which makes it happen by rote and other triggers.So if you picked up milk every day or bought shampoo every day you would no longer forget those items. Or, if in order to put your pants on you have to lift your foot, the act of putting on your pants means you don’t have to remember to lift your foot. It just happens. Make sense?

      1. fl1nty

        if you really wanna remember doing something keep a stick it note on your pants about it?

    5. panterosa,

      Actually, one day my mother’s friend in London in the 50’s got to the office, opened the coat, and surprise – no skirt…

  9. John Revay

    Great post – something that is dear to me…..”task sharing lightweight, viral, and social, they could change this dynamic and convert the large group of us who want to but can’t use a task manager”Curious – do other people assign tasks to you – re: The GothamGal – asking you to pick-up wine?

    1. fredwilson

      All the time

  10. Guest

    I think it’s less about task managers and to do lists than a slew of software. Here are my top recommendations:The ToolkitInstapaper: Use this to save your favorite articles across the web. Those articles are like pennies you may never use but at least you know where theyโ€™re saved when you need to come back to them. You may also want to create categories to classify those articles further. I have built folders for anything social media related to health.If you use Google Reader or even the Safari browser on Mac or iOS, make sure you install the โ€œRead Laterโ€ Instapaper button for instant one click saving.Evernote: I resisted using Evernote for years. The UI was a bit clunky and I had other ways to dump content. However, the last two months at work have been nuts and I needed a quick reference tool for all my notes and next steps on projects. Basically, Evernote saved me from rummaging through my Microsoft Inbox to find that important email. It also enabled me to send people a URL of clean summarized notes with snapshots and examples. Additionally, I use Evernote to dump blog posts ideas.Scrivener: If youโ€™re a writer and publisher this is your best tool. Scrivener excels in keeping your chapters formatted as you visualize them and most importantly, compiling the finished product in the right file format for distribution to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.The program is as advanced as you want it to be.Drafts app: The best notebook is the one you have with you. The Drafts app is the quickest way to record and store any idea, opening right up to a blank page. Once you get your idea down, you can also share it everywhere with one click: to social networks, Evernote, Day One, et al.I write my blog posts on Drafts and then copy it in Markdown. This saves me time from manually entering HTML on the Tumblr app.Day One: This is the modern digital diary. Itโ€™s beautifully designed to collect private thoughts and memories in a clean, easy to navigate interface. Iโ€™ve been writing in Day One daily for more than a year. I love scanning back to a random entry and seeing where I was and futuring to see where I want to go next.Dropbox: Dropbox is the definition of cloud access. I keep all my files on Dropbox, off my computer so I can access them from anywhere. I also use Dropbox to save all my images. I even have an ifft recipe set up to save each of my Instagram photos.Camera+: Camera+ should be your default camera app for iPhone. It opens fast, allows rapid shots, cool filters, focus tools to avoid tilt, and instant share options.All of these tools, minus Scrivener, are available as Smartphone and desktop apps and share everything in the cloud for ubiquitous access.

  11. Teemu Kurppa

    I think a calendar is a great task management tool for your work, because, I assume, the life of VC is organized around meetings. Thus, a separate task list is an extra chore.Contrast this with a life of the development team. You have initial plans sketched out, but new tasks pop up all the time when you dive deeper designing and implementing a feature because you understand the details only then. On what priority and especially when these tasks should be handled is a totally different game, and calendar is not a good fit for that process flow.

  12. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I haven’t seen a great solution but calendar and gmail tasks are a good start. I also recently started using Trello and it works great especially if organized and you can create reminder messages that will alert you.

  13. Jim Caruso

    Fred, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It is comforting to know that even someone as successful as you, and in a role that demands such a “big picture” perspective, struggles with finding a way to manage tasks and stay organized.Personally, I use David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system, which is agnostic as to software application and can even be entirely manual/paper-based. But I use Outlook Tasks, which synchronizes flawlessly with an iPad/iPhone app called iMExchange.Admittedly, adhering to the system has proven difficult. I find that my master task list grows with every idea or problem that needs resolution, and to plan exactly what I really need to do on a particular day or week I end up making a handwritten list. But still, GTD combined with Outlook Tasks is a great way to track a complete inventory of projects and tasks, and includes an easy way to manage tasks in which I am waiting for someone else to do something.BTW, GTD has some very specific opinions on when tasks belong and do not belong on a calendar. Won’t get into all the details here…

  14. SleepingSeasons

    I use three task managers, each for different things:Any.Do: great mobile app on Android, with voice actions integration. I use this for things I need to remember to do around the house (read something, do my laundry, whatever). The killer feature of this one is called ‘Moment’, which presents you with each of your tasks each day and makes you say when you’re going to do each (which can be some time that day, or you can push it back to remind you again tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or next week). They’ve introduced a partner calendar app for iOS too, and that’s meant to come to Android ‘soon’.Taskk.it: This is what I use to keep myself productive when I’m busy at work and it is very useful for someone like me, who has a lot of trouble not getting distracted between tasks. You go to the calendar view and put in the number of productive hours you expect to have that day, then enter a list of tasks and an estimate of how long each will take. Then, it takes all of that and plans when you’ll do each thing and you don’t have any friction deciding what to do next. You can also add deadlines, dependencies, etc., and it will automatically split long tasks down to shorter bites across several days.Asana: this is talked about in more detail by other commenter, but I use it most when I have an actual project to split up, track and get done (like when setting up foreign subsidiaries).

  15. Jorge M. Torres

    I like and use Any.do. Beautifully designed app, available on Android. Best feature is “plan your day,” which walks you through your tasks each morning and helps you decide which tasks to do and when. Sometimes, you even get a reward (e.g., free week of Hulu), for using this feature. http://www.any.do

  16. Ana Milicevic

    Every Sunday evening I take a look at my calendar and think of the weeks ahead (usually about 2-3 weeks out). Then I jot down in a notebook (love the mini Moleskine for this) what my top priorities for the next week are and take a look at how I did against last week’s list. These can be very specific, like ‘Sign-off on roadmap for Q4’, or more open-ended like ‘Work on presentation for [conference]’. I also use the calendaring method and essentially create notes with time commitments for myself. During the week I’ll check things off in the notebook or add comments so that’s essentially the golden record of all of my planning & self-organization activities. I’ve tried to add technology to this process with Evernote replacing the Moleskine for a while, but I keep going back to the notebook and the pen and paper. There’s something about the crossing off of a task, jotting down random thoughts, and doodling on pages that I just don’t seem to want to substitute with technology.

  17. Brandon Burns

    “I think if someone was able to make task sharing lightweight, viral, and social, they could change this dynamic and convert the large group of us who want to but can’t use a task manager.”Fred, I hate to break it to you, but some people are just chronically and forever disorganized. I am one of them. My brain does not process linearly; thoughts ping pong around my subconscious, germinating at various lengths of time until they’re ready to surface and be acted upon. And, really, that tends to be the mark of a creative problem solver, so I’m quite glad my brain works this way. You should be, too! We should all embrace it, enjoy it, and always be good to the task-manager-y people around us who keep the trains moving on time!And just give up hope of a magical app (or Rx, self-help book, etc.). There is no cure. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      I agree with you

      1. LE

        No doubt you are a creative and driven by inspiration.Great that your parents put you in the direction of going to MIT and then Wharton so you could make something of your life with that creativity instead of ending up like most creative types do. (And gotham gal of course) Now you can go to as many sports events as you like, travel, concerts and have a kick ass sound system.Can you imagine for a second if you ended up doing civil (or some type of engineering) instead of what you are doing now?

        1. fredwilson


          1. LE

            This guy (Marc Vetri) is super famous in Philly (award winning chef).http://www.vetrifoundation….He grew up next door to us.His father owned a chain of jewelry stores and his mother was a lawyer.He stuttered and didn’t do particularly well in school. Parents didn’t recognize his creativity and I’m certain wanted him to go into a career like law (his sister is a big DA locally) medicine or accounting. (Father not jewish, mother jewish.)So he went off to Italy, then managed to get himself into the kitchen at Spago, and also got fired (or quit) from some restaurant owned by the Barney’s guys in NYC. I used to go out to dinner with his father (older, rich guy mentor type). Anyway Vetri hit it big. But when he wanted to open his first restaurant in Philly in the 90’s his father said to me “fuck if he thinks I will give him money for that”. (from memory, not exact words but definitely the intent).They didn’t recognize what he was all about (he’s won the James Beard aware and his restaurant is consistently recognized as the top Italian restaurant in Philly and the country.

      2. PhilipSugar

        I think we must be twins when it comes to this.

    2. andyidsinga

      viral tasks – thats an interesting idea:[__] throw pie at public official [ votes: ^ 1,536,723 | v 1 ]

    3. Elie Seidman

      well said.

  18. William Mougayar

    The Kik card integration is smart, because it uses something you are already using.I don’t use any separate Task software, but i do 2 things: a) I email to do lists to myself with subject ‘To Do’ and I sort to check, b) I use the iPhone’s Notes to write longer tasks & can email them to myself later.And I was involved with a failed startup in 2000 called TaskMail where we integrated email with Task Lists, including private groups. That was pre-Gmail & their Task function, and maybe was ahead of its time, but it had a great name!

  19. MarkK

    I think task managers are not natural for most people. People before computers lived without task managers forever. But they used notes and notebooks for many years.I think creating systematically organized notes (in Evernote) is much better way to stay on top of your tasks. Calendar as you described is also a good way to add reminders to yourself.

  20. Mark Moran

    There is one reality that no task manager can ever overcome: life is moving too quickly these days to be scheduled and prioritized in advance. I have a long list at the start of each day, and rarely does half of it ever get done, but new and more exciting things come up each day.

    1. Zaid Zawaideh

      You are right that life moves too fast and our schedules and priorities are changing. However, this problem can be overcome. We designed Sandglaz to overcome it: be simple and easy to use, yet flexible to easily respond to our constantly changing priorities. We’re the only task management app to do that.

  21. Alix

    Big pain point for me too. I’ve tried several solutions and am currently testing the mobile app Any.DO which seems to be solving some of the pain points mentioned.

  22. Henry Glover

    “I think if someone was able to make task sharing lightweight, viral, and social, they could change this dynamic and convert the large group of us who want to but can’t use a task manager.”You just described Asana. Give it a shot …but turn off the email notifications, install the chrome plugin. Use the mobile app and forward emailed tasks using their email address.It changed the way my org does work and really freed us from email.

  23. William Mougayar

    My wife uses a simple system. She tapes sticky notes on the back on her phone when going out to buy stuff. Then, this week we saw someone is selling this, 80 pre-packaged for $7.95! We should have applied for a patent ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. tsella

      ๐Ÿ™‚ for checklist shopping try Google Keep (Android and Chrome for now). It’s only drawback is that it does not support secured entries, for which I use Color Note.

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks. will try it.

    2. kevando

      I’m confused as to what part of this is a joke.

      1. andyidsinga

        focus on the “limes” item – if you still don’t get it – ask someone else.

        1. William Mougayar

          limes + cilantro go well together… maybe it’s a mexican or spanish sauce.

          1. Fernando Gutierrez

            Mexican, very rarely we use cilantro in Spain ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. William Mougayar

            Ah…good distinction. thanks

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        WM never make jokes … and that is a joke.

        1. andyidsinga

          and adding to the absurdity – he got down votes ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. LE

            Further adding that up and down votes aren’t even defined as to what they mean.

          2. William Mougayar

            +7 – 2 = 5, but it’s still showing under the +4 of DarkUFO. Go figure.

          3. William Mougayar

            i just saw that. that’s ok. nobody is perfect.

          4. andyidsinga

            I got a good laugh out of the downvotes ..imaging a geek comedy club scenario with you on stage ๐Ÿ™‚

          5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Trace those down-voted IP addresses … u will end up in USPTO ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. William Mougayar

          I tell jokes backwards.Start by laughing…

    3. LE

      Reminded me of the movie “Billionaire Boys Club” where a list was left at the scene of the crime which included a to do list that had “kill dog”.http://articles.latimes.com…In any case my version of the iphone list is to write a list on a 3×5 card and shoot a picture of that list which I can pull up when I am out.”We should have applied for a patent !”Let me put a kibosh on that thought.It reminded me of what my mom said in the 70’s because one of our customers was the person who came up with the happy face (or at least popularized it). Name was Bernie (or might have been his brother Murray) Spain [1] [2] who operated a chain of card and gift shops. (He then verifies with wikipedia..)http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Anyway at the NY Gift Show there was a time when practically every single booth had happy face items.To which my Mom replied “wow he should have patented that” (actually it would have been a trademark not a patent but that’s beside the point).But the truth is if he had trademarked it it would have never become popular like it did. (In theory). So the ubiquity is what made it popular and w/o that it wouldn’t have become a craze. Would have been friction to adoption.[1] Sold their company for several hundred million dollars. Also operated Dollar Express.1999 Article: http://articles.philly.com/…[2] Along the lines of things you rarely read in business stories there was a time when they couldn’t pay for the merchandise that they bought for their stores from my father. But they were risk takers and in the end the bets they made paid off.

      1. andyidsinga

        re the list – its fun to add little joke items to someone elses lists ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. LE

          Don’t start with that. My wife and I, when we see a sign, will add a funny extra product or service.Like “Muffler King: Mufflers! Brakes! and late term ….”.

          1. William Mougayar

            Try that game with the fortune cookies, and add “in bed” to what it says…

      2. William Mougayar

        Interesting story. I like the snapping of the note idea.

    4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Ur patent would have got rejected … u might have patent the idea and usefulness that would have gone into the obviousness dust-bin… but missed the rounded corners and the color and font of the text….no rounded corners … no color….no font look….no patent.

      1. William Mougayar

        lol. i was joking about the patent thing.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Pretty sure he was – (apple refs).

    5. jason wright

      too descriptive

    6. andyidsinga

      William – does it come with extra fonts? ..that would be sweet!

      1. William Mougayar

        it’s low tech….like really low

        1. panterosa,

          At art school we had a hierarchy hi tech lo tech no tech.

        2. alive88

          but fonts are limitless

    7. sigmaalgebra

      What, no truffles, Montrachet, Chambertin?

      1. William Mougayar


    8. Sean Hull

      Love this. Dunno if it would work with a mophie on board though…

  24. jmcaddell

    Everyone has to develop his own system. Somehow I lasted till age 30 without any planner of any sort (couldn’t do that today). Then I used pen and paper, the Palm task list, and used Google Tasks for a while (even though they ignored its development). I finally settled on Asana. It’s excellent, lightweight and can do collaboration/social.i use a task manager to make sure I know everything I have to do; it’s more a list of all tasks than a plan for what to do today. Writing everything down (a la David Allen) works for me, especially when it comes to following up on things people have committed to me. (I cull the list once or twice a month.)Each day I look at the list and decide on a few things to work on. I try to spend the morning non-meeting time on strategic tasks, then the afternoon on medium things and try to get some trivial things done at the end of the day. If I’m in an airport with some slack time, I look at the list and see if I can bang anything out.For things that have a defined due date (even trivial things), I’ll put them in the calendar. But they’re in Asana too. I prefer redundancy to forgetting.

  25. tsella

    Same here. (Google) Calendar is the only workable solution, and my “sharing” is adding people as guests. That said, do checkout Any.DO, maybe it will work out for you (it has some very cool features – I loved how it integrates with Android), and at least you get to checkout a very uniquely (and beautifully) designed app.

    1. William Mougayar

      In that same vein, I used MobileDay to integrate all calendars into one.

  26. Tom Hughes

    I use Trello, because it works for me alone and for teams. It’s like your college whiteboard, made digital.

  27. Daniel Clough

    I would consist myself pretty organised and I used just a word / google doc for many years to manage my to dos.However for the last year or so I just kinda found it less and less useful as I would be going from meeting to meeting and just rarely looked at it.Now all I use is a moleskin pad and pencil. I keep a list of all re stuff I need to do in that and sit down with it at the beginning of each week and day and then just cross stuff off as I move through the day. I star the 3 most important things on my day / week lists.

    1. Daniel Clough

      I should add I use google calendar for all meetings.

  28. kidmercury

    i tried a bunch, most are too complicated. google doc + gcalendar for time-based stuff. make sure you have google drive on your phone so get the whole cloud experience. not sure what islaves are going to do. oh well. at least they still have a pretty box.btw we should talk about syria for fun friday this coming up friday. did ya’ll hear putin’s comments, lol, he was basically like i’m a sell as many weapons to assad as i want wtf y’all gonna do about it. also i found it surprising that india has decided to side with russia as well. hope they don’t kick it WWII style in the states and start putting foreigners in internment camps if WWIII goes down. in WWII they did put 2nd generation japanese folks — meaning people born here but whose parents were born in japan — in these camps. as a reminder i may be indian by race/ethnicity but i am a US citizen and y’all know i been a big supporter of obama and US imperialism since day one so no need to put me in a camp.anyway, if this does kickstart WWIII, i hope folks can realize how much they are being played. but y’all voted for the warmonger in chief who won the nobel peace prize (hahahahaha!!!!!). so hey, you’re just getting what you voted for, embarrassing as it may be.

    1. William Mougayar

      islaves? you crack me up.

    2. charlie rose

      Syria vs. Miami Heat. Best of five series. Who wins?

      1. kidmercury

        depends on which syria we’re talking about; assad/russia or al qaeda/USA. also depends what they’re competing on. if it’s basketball, lord knows i’m not a heat fan, though i have no interest in betting against lebron james. if it is anything besides basketball, i’ll side with either faction of syria, simply due to concept of power in numbers.

      2. andyidsinga

        upvoted – nice touch bringing charlie rose in ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. kidmercury

      if anyone would like to publicly downvote my previous comment regarding the civil war in syria, please upvote this comment (since disqus does not publicly display downvotes).

      1. LE

        I get a kick out of Putin. Here is a guy who runs a super power and he actually cares what he looks like appearance wise. That he needs to appear tough and physically able. Nobody cared that Khrushchev was portly. (Or Capone for that matter).Along the same lines it always amazed me that Bill Gates, when he was the riches guy in the world, (or near the top) would still wear a suit and tie and get “all dressed up”. (Not saying he should pull a zuck and go around in a hoodie of course).I mean at a certain point isn’t one of the advantages of having power being able to do whatever the fuck you want to do because you are the top dog?(I know Gates had stock holders, the market and all of that but I think there is more than that involved. Same with Putin and being viral. Like the women will sleep with you even if flabby.)

    4. LE

      “he was basically like i’m a sell as many weapons to assad”Dream team book smart crowd has a problem understanding street smart tactics.

  29. Chrisl

    Hey Fred, check out Focus To Do List https://itunes.apple.com/us… . It’s an app I’ve been working on for a few months and it was released today.

  30. CJ

    I ‘use’ Remember the Milk, OneNote, and Todo.txt. Realistically though, I use OneNote as my bible for taking/compiling notes at work. ( I don’t read the bible much) I have a few long term things sketched out in todo.txt. It’s my favorite because it’s just a text file, still don’t use it much. RTM is just for the wife and I to sync shopping lists. What I’m saying is that I spend more time collecting todo and note apps than I spend using them. When I talk to other people, I get the sense that they are the same way. Not sure what to do about any of that.

  31. Mike Rossi

    Workflowy should really be considered in this conversation. The flexibility to use + shortcuts really lowers the barrier to maintain a functioning list of items.

    1. Kate Huyett

      +1 for workflowy (http://bit.ly/11PVffO) — the only task manager I’ve ever stuck with. basically it makes it super easy to create, update and share lists. it’s collapsible and also has hashtagging for easy categorization – I use it for everything from managing packing lists to maintaining priorities to keeping notes from stuff i read. workflowy + email are the two tabs always open in my browser.

    2. Campbell Macdonald

      Workflowy is awesome for personal stuff. It looks like a simple page, but there is a lot of magic/tech underneath. We are even using it for a team of three and I use it with my wife for big projects.The problem is it doesn’t scale (our team is growing and we are going to abandon it for Asana or Trello or something) and it doesn’t support due dates which I find completely baffling.

  32. Hugh Lang

    I was certain that you would talk about Trello. I have seen it *help* organize the most disorganized of people, including myself.

    1. ShanaC

      why trello as opposed to anything else

      1. jimmy5804

        It’s very lightweight and doesn’t dictate how it should be used – it’s very easy to adapt to however you work.

      2. Stephan

        Trello is “lightweight, viral, and social” as Fred asked for.I love Trello! My team uses it to manage all our projects and I also use it to keep myself organized.It has awesome iPhone and iPad apps so I can keep track of everything on the go (there is also an Android app).And best of all, it’s free!!

    2. andyidsinga

      love love love trello!

    3. WinnJim

      I use Trello to manage both personal to-do lists, and team projects. I manage a team spread across 4 countries, and we do large project implementation for a company expanding into Latin America. I’ve tried several other solutions, but Trello is *by far* the best tool I have found to easily manage several projects, tasks and people without having to devote a lot of time to managing the tool itself.

    4. jimmy5804

      Trello’s also been my salvation – only thing I’ve been able to use over a long period of time.

  33. jim

    Why do to-do lists need to be social? Should they also be integrated with Disqus and have some way to favorite, upvote, etc items? Should they come with avatars (anonymous todo lists bad!) and game mechanics (i am the mayor of my shopping list and the master of my domain)? It would be helpful if they autogenerated business buzzwords so that I could easily keep up with venture capital discussion these days.

    1. fredwilson

      those are all awesome ideas Jim. thanks for stopping by and sharing them.

    2. Anne Libby

      Heh heh.More seriously, I am seeing young businesses use workflow tools that have a social function that’s internal to the team or company. This is a good way to manage projects that integrates with the behavior of people who use social. I don’t see anything that I love to pieces, though.And I see some potential pitfalls. It’s great to use social to offer positive feedback. When you have “needs improvement” feedback for someone, social is not the way to go.

  34. raghuhavaldar

    Here are all the task managers I use or have recently experimented with to get myself “organized” (ahem!): asana, google calendar (similar to Fred), google tasks in gmail, todoist (chrome plugin), simply us (iOS app for home related tasks), ActiveInbox (gmail plugin), salesforce, linkedin…and the list goes on.In this era of best-of-breed tools (which we have consciously chosen), we are probably not going to get away..but API integration opens up the possibility for that single task manager ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Guest

    Pretty much exactly the same for me. I always revert to Google Calendar just because it reduces complexity and I’m already religious about using it. I’ve tried almost all of them at some point in recent years, including Remember the Milk (which has a Google Calendar plugin), Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Google Keep (which I still use for grocery lists). I still use Basecamp for Project Management, but not for any personal task management. Google Keep is not robust enough for anything more than a grocery list. It’s a hard and oft addressed problem, but one a lot of people are still looking to have solved. Solve a pain point anyone?

    1. Guest

      Feature request: I desire merciless harassment from my future task manager. Remind me to get it done until I’m on the verge of quitting the service or confirm completion.

  36. Naman Kumar

    I still use pen and paper for within-two-day to-do’s and lists. For everything else, there’s the calendar. Problem with lists is that I always realize the tasks after they have passed, never in time.It would be cool if I could email myself a to-do and it would be automatically added to my calendar. And if I was emailed a list of all my to-do’s every 6 hours or so. (hello there fellow stalker, you should build this – i will pay. if you don’t, i’ll attack it at my next long weekend and you’ll lose out on what could’ve been. so yeah, do it)

    1. mdcougar

      Naman, you might want to look at the video of my soon-to-be-released task manager app that lets you take a picture of your handwritten list. http://www.getjotit.com

  37. Semil Shah

    My current flow: Starred email to monitor, Asana to collect all ideas/projects, and CLEAR for Mac and iPhone to make short-term to-do lists. I’ve also started using Fancy Hands (mobile) a lot and need to write about how awesome it is soon.

  38. jonathan hegranes

    went through this research and thought process last week, and i decided to give google keep a try.the mobile app is solid, and then i’ve been pinning a tab on my browser.so far i’ve been digging it, but i wonder if these apps / services are doomed for failure. e.g. there’s a high likelihood that the app stops working for me at some point (probably because of my own laziness or disorganization). so my solution is to look for a better and better app.right now google keep is that for me.

  39. LE

    But putting them in my calendar, I achieve two things; 1) add a time dimension which creates urgency and 2) decrease the number of apps I need to actively use.3) Act of “putting them in” also add to remembering that they exist. A memory aid.

  40. Tracey Jackson

    โ€œIf you know you have to swallow a frog, swallow it first thing in the morning. If there are two frogs, swallow the big one first.โ€-Mark TwainI use this as my guideline. I write down my three frogs and attack them. Always the big one first.I do use Wunderlist to organize them.

    1. William Mougayar

      It reminds me of chef Susur Lee’s famous reverse course meal . He starts you off with the steak, then progressively lighter fares. http://www.huffingtonpost.c

    2. PhilipSugar

      I had a great sales guy that said Phil, the first thing you should do each day is to the one thing you don’t want to do first, before you open email, before you make a call. Then do three things. Just three.The rest can be totally open. Works so well.

  41. JJ Donovan

    I use the daytimer monthly planning system. In addition to that since I manage all of my contacts in my personal Salesforce.com account I can use the task feature to associate a task with a contact. With this system I don’t forget about tasks, but getting them done is another a different discussion.

  42. ShanaC

    i wish i had some plan that worked for me…still in email bankruptcy too ๐Ÿ™

  43. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    A post-it , A pen, A list … worked for decades for me …until yesterday.

  44. Andre

    it seems as much people uses e-devices to typing maanage -todo- lists they lose some inner memo.

  45. Luke Chamberlin

    I have tried software to-do lists and they never work for me.Every day (preferably the night before) I write my to-do list on a 3×5 index card. If I can’t fit my tasks on a 3×5 index card I probably wasn’t going to get it done anyway.During the day I cross off items with my Pilot G2 pen, which is a thousand times more satisfactory than “swiping” to complete.I can also make little drawings which is a nice benefit.I carry about 1-2 weeks worth of cards with me and after that I “archive” them.I wouldn’t recommend this for long-term projects or project management stuff (or tasks with specific deadlines). But for personal tasks this has always been my best system. I have been doing this for 5 years now (see pictures for my to-do list archive).(Aside: I haven’t posted on AVC in several months and the main reason are these new Disqus accounts. I had hundreds of comments and upvotes on AVC and Disqus deleted all of them when they changed their account system a few months ago. They removed all of my followers as well. I had several back-and-forth emails with their support team and no one could fix this. I felt like I was making some progress into the upper ranks of AVC commenters and this was so discouraging I haven’t returned until now. Cue tiny violin music.)

    1. andyidsinga

      I love that you posted pics – always neat to peer into others’ processes.The upside of writing things down is a sort-of muscle memory that goes with it – something that is lacking in sw & tech so far.steal this idea: small, thin, card with e-ink display, paper texture, yet scratch proof and a beautiful stylus that has the weight and feeling in the hand of your G2. Has cell radio and uploads to web service. If you do the kickstarter – come ask Fred to pimp it here on AVC ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Anne Libby

      I’m also fan of the 3X5 card, though I shred mine when things are done (satisfying).And have fallen in love with the 3 X 2.5 cards I found in a recent office supply run.

  46. Lee Blaylock

    Tasks are an interesting beast. I’ve tried others, but just use outlook to track all. yet each day I start out physically writing down what i want to accomplish that day. old school yes, but the time i spend writing that down on a note card allows me to organize my thoughts and day and then later cross out each as they’re accomplished is a good feeling.for calendar sharing with my wife, check out SimplyUs. she adds kiddo events and others and it goes straight to my cal. no acceptances needed and she’s the only one who has that access, not even my admin. it has fixed our cal sharing dilemma.

  47. beau

    try Trello. does what ur talking about and more

  48. andyidsinga

    Fred, this is what you need: http://www.thinkgeek.com/st…(with a cool upside : you’ll do more fist pumping)

    1. Pete Griffiths

      That’ll work!

  49. Elia Freedman

    I’m with you, Fred. Only use my calendar. It is the one place I want to look to see the things I need to do. I went so far as to create a Tasks calendar that I file them all in, too. I just delete them when I’m done.It seems like productivity around the core calendar, tasks, contacts stopped around 1997. These simple things — like a calendar and tasks combined, sharing, contacts linked to calendar events, calendar events linked to maps — just were never done. So frustrating.

  50. LE

    3×5 cards. Has worked for years because there is the least friction between thought and making a note and the act of rewriting the 3×5 is also a memory aid.Back in the days when I had a wyse terminal on my desk (and another behind me) hooked up to a Unix multiuser system (3b2/400) I had written a shell routine which I called le-note which allowed me to keep lists and that worked pretty well. The problem is it doesn’t work the same when you have OSX and the ability to have a million windows open at the same time of different sizes. The one window was always on your desktop and you did everything w/o a mouse.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      Yes to 3×5 cards. See pics of my 3×5 card archive in my post.

  51. Tyler Tringas

    I have a “GTD” stack that, after tons of testing and product trials, I’m pretty happy with. The core is Asana for anything that is an actionable task and Evernote for storing anything that’s reference material for remembering later. I also Captio for capturing tasks very quickly from my phone and sending them to Asana and Zapier for moving tasks and notes around programmatically between all the various apps. I think Asana and Evernote win any detailed feature comparison chart, but the most important thing to do when deciding on a personal task management software is to do your homework on the teams behind the software. Do they have the same values and opinions on how time should be allocated and how work gets done? I find the teams behind these two products really fit with my thinking and they continue to release features and improvements exactly in line with what I’m looking for. Read the company blogs before you even bother comparing features.In case anyone’s curios about the Captio -> Asana trick: http://www.tylertringas.com

  52. JB

    “task sharing lightweight, viral, and social, they could change this dynamic and convert the large group of us who want to but can’t use a task manager”Something I’ve struggled with for years and the thesis behind why we created Baton (http://batonapp.com), a tool for crafting conversations to help people accomplish more. We’re in an early public beta, learning and rapidly building out our product roadmap while preparing for our native app launches on iOS and Android.

  53. jason wright

    sounds like you need a task master

  54. daryn

    A piece of paper with checkboxes stuck to my laptop and the occasional apologies mostly works for me, but looking for a better solution too ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. mdcougar

      Daryn, if you have an affinity for writing tasks on paper, checkout the video of my soon-to-be-released task manager app that lets you take a picture of your handwritten list. http://www.getjotit.com

      1. daryn

        Thanks, though the value of paper for me isn’t in task creation, it’s in visibility (I put it next to my keyboard or on my screen) and it is always visible. The problem with apps is that I’ll just forget to open them…

        1. mdcougar

          I hear about the value of visibility from many people. Keep an eye on our product as it develops. It will allow you to move back and forth between paper and digital without friction. I’m not ready to reveal the details of how it will do that, but I think it will fit your workflow really well. Regards,… Mike

          1. daryn

            Sounds great. Good luck Mike!

  55. James Fayal

    I’ve been using Wunderlist for about 6 months now and I find myself using it more an more. The new #hashtag feature helps as a secondary classing structure and I love that you can attach files to the items now (with premium). I wish there was better integration with Evernote/ I wish this was part of Evernote.

  56. Shoe On Head

    task management is a critical part of the mobile puzzle.for me iOS has rapidly just become a hosting organism for OmniFocus.nothing else matters.definition of procastrination? i’ll find the link for you later, fred ;)(shoe on head)

  57. Ted Rogers

    Workflowy changed my life – only tool I ever stuck with – but I doesn’t work for groups. I think one of the reasons we don’t stick with these tools is that we expect them to do the work for us, to change our behavior. Nope. We are still the same disorganized procrastinators. Unfortunately it’s not about changing tools but changing ourselves.

    1. Ted Rogers

      I should say, Workflowy didnt work well for our groups. It does have those features but we abandoned after one day. But its a Great personal tool.

      1. Timothy Meade

        Seems like what we natural born procrastinators need is a tool that rewards actually completing tasks, and also knows when a task is something to nag about (such as via notifications) or not.Every system I’ve tried to use maps badly to how I think about time, and just becomes a list of ‘priorities’ (starting with 1-5 in the Palm ToDo list) or deadlines, neither of which work well for me.

  58. BillSeitz

    My current method – focused on 3 big MITs for the week and picking top 3 MITs for the day before starting anything.http://lifehacker.com/18707…I just have a note file for the week that has a long list of to-dos, many of which will never get done, and I review daily and weekly to move more important/urgent stuff to the top, then pull them into daily MIT list as appropriate. That also serves as my log of what I actually accomplished.Then at the end of the week, I may a new week-page and cut/paste the long list into it…Most of the editing happens on my laptop, and it gets synched in SimpleNote so it’s always available in the cloud.If an item ties to a work-team item in an issue-tracker, then I include the URL in the item in my note-file.If there’s a future-due-date associated with something, I make sure I write my ToDo item as a NextAction, and if it’s too early even for that, I stick a date in the item so I catch that in my weekly review.Sometimes in the past I’ve used a mindmap in the same way, when I felt I had to keep a bunch of future sub-tasks in mind for bunches of things. But using a mindmap on a small phone screen is often a pain, so I’ve dropped that approach for now.

  59. Emil Sotirov

    “I have not been able to add tasks and notes to my workflow… I do put tasks in my calendar all the time.” Same here…I use Google calendars as my global ToDo list where items have time slots which happen to be fixed or just tentative. I like most the ability to drag & drop items easily from today to a future date. Very easy to see what really must be done today versus what can be postponed. At some point, some items are postponed so many times that it becomes clear there is no need to do them at all.

  60. MikeSchinkel

    I have had pretty much the same experience. Most recently I’ve tried Things for Mac and Trello and am thinking I might be able to stick with Trello if I’m careful how I use it.But my problem with using task managers is that whenever I start using them they work well at first but too soon get filled with aspirational tasks all of which I’m collectively never going to have time to complete. At that point they bog down of their own weight and I abandon the tool. Why Trello might work is I could move those things to other boards and get them out of my face, so to speak.The other problem is I am often working on multi-week projects were for the most part my task list consists of 1 item (and that 1 item is broken down into a task management system like JIRA.) That so disrupts my use of a task manager that I find it hard to return once the 1 item is finished.As an aside, I had a team member over the past several years who was in love with Workflowy; he always pushed us to use it even though it works poorly for teams and thus caused more trouble that it solved. Discovery in Workflowy is (was?) essentially impossible. I even tried to use it for personal use but could never warm up to it. FWIW.

  61. Elie Seidman

    Observing the people I’ve worked with, it seems like there are two types of people when it comes to meticulously using task managers. The natural born project /program managers who are organized – on everything – down to the last crossed off task on the list and then everyone else who just get by and make do with email, calendars, the occasional paper list all of it feeling pretty ad hoc. The folks who are naturally good at details outperform the other group 10:1 on managing huge volumes of details and I have yet to see someone in the latter group evolve to become the former. I worked in the Microsoft Money (competitor to Quicken) group for a summer in 1996. I remember then that the belief in the group was that there was a small subset of people who would use money management software on an ongoing basis and then everyone else who might buy it but would never really use it. Probably similar behavior for all forms of task management software.

  62. Zee.

    Also highly recommend simply emailing tasks to people and using Boomerang for gmail to set reminders to follow up.

  63. Rick P.

    I like using Icarus2. It’s definitely lightweight and to-the-point, and perfect for me since I always forget to look at my calendar.

    1. andyidsinga

      unfortunately with Icarus2 – you can’t use it in bright sunlight

      1. Rick P.

        Not necessarily, unless you’re a vampire.

        1. andyidsinga

          Just be careful the tasks don’t melt away ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. panterosa,

    Love this!Disclosure, I am a 2nd gen list maker, parent to a 3rd gen. Our family is way listy.Have tried everything. I love Clear more than anything, ever. And you can email lists – shake and send, so fun. Great for sending someone out shopping etc.I agree some task go on calendar. I still put them on list.

  65. george

    Task managing through voice recognition seems to work best, and I think it’s come a long way. Siri has works pretty good in this area, if someone has iOS. Evernote is also pretty helpful as well…

  66. andyidsinga

    Fred – do you have a pebble watch yet? …google calendar reminders show up there. very handy.

  67. Matt Zagaja

    I tried Things for a while, but the only one I consistently use is the Reminders app on my iPhone and Mac. It’s basic, but quite accessible. I just want to be productive and I think Things and other applications had too many features. I often set alerts on my reminders and I enjoy the fact they appear in Fantastical on my desktop.

  68. LE

    This is actually sad, fascinating, and loosely related [1]:http://nypost.com/2013/09/0…Hey, look at this, it’s my “reverse the reward system”On days without a womanโ€™s name, Kennedy would often write โ€œvictory.โ€ This meant heโ€™d triumphantly resisted sexual temptation, according to a source close to Richardson.[1] Management of sex addiction, lists, keeping track of things.

  69. Brandon G. Donnelly

    I use my calendar extensively for tasks. I need the auto reminders. Also, instead of just marking down a task I know I should get done, I can attach a time element to it. For example, if I know I’m going to be driving somewhere, I’ll set a few reminders (in the calendar) for calls I’ve been meaning to make.I also use Clear, but I find that I don’t use it as dynamically as my calendar. The lists are more a collection of long term things I plan to do or want to remember. I have a list of life goals; startup ideas; books I want to read; etc. I think that since email and calendar dominate, any successful task manager would need to find someway to integrate into those systems if I were to use it extensively.

  70. Joe Yevoli

    The best task management solution I’ve come across is Evernote. I just dump everything I need to (anything at all) into evernote and once a week organize the list by priority. I’ve been doing it for over a year now.

  71. someone

    BrainForest for PalmOS was the only ever good task manager I used. miss dearly its hierarchical trees of to-do items

  72. sigmaalgebra

    This issue of a software tool for getting tasksorganized looks like a special case of looking forgood software tools or looking for good tools moregenerally.One approach to tools is something quite specializedfor a task, say, a hot dog cooker. Maybe in somesituations it’s a good, useful, and worthwhile tool(especially if have someone else to clean thething!). But for cooking hot dogs, I just use a 2quart pot and boil them, roll them around in askillet and get the outsides crisp, or roll themaround on a charcoal fire outdoors to get thembrown. So, I use general purpose tools and nospecialized tool, no special purpose hot dog cooker.An onion slicer? Nope: I have a good cuttingboard and a quite good French chef’s knife (reallyquite good, for two for $15 at Sam’s Club), and Ican peel, slice, dice, whatever three pounds ofonions in a hurry with minimal setup and clean up.We need good tools in a kitchen, a work shop, anauto shop, and in computing. Good tools aredifficult to find.For computing, by far my best tools are (1) myprogrammable general purpose text editor and (2) agood command line scripting language.The one text editor receives nearly all my typingfor nearly everything, including AVC posts.I’m no great master of being organized, but to methat one text editor, possibly with a few simplemacros written to help me be organized, would be mytool of choice.Yup, then the data for being organized will beessentially just simple text and, thus, will workwith my standard spell checker, ASpell! So, if Iforget how to spell some names in my appointmentlist, then my addendum dictionary for ASpell willsolve the problem!Standardizing on just simple text has some hugeadvantages like destroying the Tower of Babel.Print the thing? I have a cute little program Iwrote — carefully chosen fonts, file name, time,date, line numbers — to print simple text filesand, thus, could print any of the data from myorganizing system.Automate something, say, alerts? Sure, write alittle script that starts automatically when thecomputer starts and wakes up each 10 minutes or so,looks at the appointment list, and puts up alerts,sounds alarms, etc.Nearly anything one wants, all from good, generalpurpose tools.

  73. Christian Reber

    Fred, thanks for using Wunderlist. Here are some of our engagement numbers. http://christianreber.com/b…Beste GrรผรŸe aus Berlin!

    1. Rohan

      Hey Christian, thanks for Wunderlist. My wife and I are using it to share our common tasks!

    2. Jay Bregman

      Couldn’t live without it…keep up the good work!

  74. Jay Parkhill

    I like Remember the Milk a lot. It could use improvement, but it’s a good place to store reminders of things to follow up on, as well as a priority to-do list every day.One thing I really like about it is that I can forward an email to RTM and it will convert it to a task. A lot of my work comes to me over email and this makes it easy to get the task onto my to-do list without having to open a new app, copy/paste etc.

  75. tomazstolfa

    It is my impression that Christian and the Wunderlist team really care about the entire experience of organizing your life – either personal or business – and not just about the to-do aspect of it.The social component is not crucial only for growth, but also because it will bring a natural component in the task completion process.We do things with other people (social), we do them at a specific time (calendar), on a specific location (venues?) and a great product that will help us get our time back will nail the experience across those dimensions.The guys behind Wunderlist are definitely equipped to make that happen.

  76. Matt McCormick

    Basecamp by 37 Signals. I know it’s meant to be project management software but for $20/month you get the best and easiest to use listing software ever created. And what are tasks but a list of things to do.It’s what I use and it’s changed the way I stay organized – for the better. Much, much better.

  77. JohnEaton2012

    Wunderlist has that wonderfully soothing wood-grained interface. Since one of the hardest things with a task manager is to go back to it on a daily basis and update/use it, this is a powerful product strategy by the Wunderlist team.Asana is awesome, i think it was written by experienced project managers.BTW: http://www.teamgantt.com is my favorite at the moment. It is the closest to an actual excel spreadsheet – which is what most of use at the start of a project anyway. I use it for all my professional projects – when I need my client to feel comfortable like every detail is under control.In real life? I use the calendar like Fred – any task that needs doing can be inserted into a time and date and color coded. And if you don’t get it done by the deadline, you just drag it forward a couple of days!!

  78. Jason C

    For me, I have been using Trello to manage daily/weekly tasks and special projects. Now that Trello has “powerups” like connecting boards to your calendar it has become even more valuable. As a very disorganized person, I love the Kanban concept to help track what I need to finish.As for Wunderlist, a friend that is in the restaurant industry has been using it to develop with his employees on a new restaurant project. He seems pleased with it so far.

  79. Simcha Kanter

    What type of tasks are you talking about here, Fred? One-and-done-pick-up-the-milk tasks? (Random stuff) Tasks for ongoing projects or initiatives? Do something at time x tasks? Or all of the above?Curious if people have different modes of managing each one. Google Calendar seems to the consensus for time dependent – but what about project vs. one-off?

  80. Joseph Valente

    I’m surprised nobody here has said anything about Mailbox app!I think the core problem with this category is friction. Inbound tasks arrive from lots of different angles (colleagues, family, self) and tend to congregate in different areas – work might have a Trello board, your family might use some notes on a pinboard, and you personally might use your Reminders app on your iDevices.Having to transfer each of these tasks into one interface is not easy – it creates an order of friction larger than what is usually required to have people using a social network (I wouldn’t use a task manager that doesn’t include tasks from outside work, and yet I would go on Facebook even if my work colleagues weren’t on it). The last thing any of us want to be doing is transferring in tasks from another interface manually.That’s why Mailbox is such an ingenious solution. It recognises that tasks are an inherently social thing, and piggybacks on top of the biggest, most open social graph of all – email. Now I simply tell people to email me about anything they need from me and I will try my best to get onto the task and maintain inbox zero.The only flaw I can see for this is that it is very difficult to scale if you have an ton of inbound email (unless you’re disciplined about what you get rid of). In any event I thought I’d say I think it is fantastic and a great tasks solution moreso than an email one.

  81. Jay Batson

    I’ve tried twice to build task management, including a networked group tool. Having studied the entire spectrum of techniques & tools, and invested in tech to implement what seemed to be best practices, I did not conquer this.I think the essential problem is that people are either naturally gifted with the ability to manage things, or not – and no tool will help the latter. The problem (IMO) is not solvable with technology.

  82. Jim Ritchie

    I am quite surprised at the number of folks that don’t use task management software. I’d get half as much done without tools that allow me to prioritize and delegate/assign tasks and manage to completion, assign due dates and integrate with my calendar. I currently use https://www.gqueues.com/ for both personal and work. My wife and I share shopping lists and home todos. For work we use to manage all aspects of biz except engineering where we use Basecamp.I think GQueues is brilliant as written primarily by one engineer. Nice UI on web and IOS and Android apps. He just wrote an interesting blog on differences between the two development environments http://blog.gqueues.com/Full suite of features including subtasks, tags, notes, google calendar integration and gmail and chrome widgets. Supports GTD if you follow that methodology. I highly recommend it at $25/year.Asana has come far enough now I would consider for use in place of Basecamp in future.

  83. Ken Galpin

    I think this is a great area of development for the new smart watch category but it needs to be voice oriented.

  84. dan_malven

    I use gTasks mobile app, and it has bidirectional wireless sync with my Google Apps task list. I usually add tasks on my mobile and manage them on my desktop. I only keep two categories: 1) Today and 2) Not Today. gTasks (and Apps task list) are dirt-simple, but I only use them basically as digital sticky notes. Every morning I then construct my Today list, both with new items and by reviewing what has been sitting in my Not Today list. Although I must admit I sometimes slip on this discipline….about once per month I clean out my Not Today list items that I’m never going to get to.

  85. John

    I’m in the same boat as you. It’s hard for a task list to compute with the human mind. This is particularly true when it comes to prioritizing. Our brain is just so good at easily adding new tasks, forgetting tasks that don’t matter, and prioritizing ones that really do matter.Based on what you asked for, I’d be interested in your thoughts on https://tracky.com/ Their goal is what you described. Plus, it has a public and private component that I think is interesting.

  86. mdcougar

    Fred,Making task sharing lightweight, viral, and social is one of the two problems we are attacking. The other is reducing the friction of getting tasks into the task manager by letting you photograph your handwritten list.See the 1-minute video of our novel prototype in action at http://www.getjotit.com

  87. Brad Lindenberg

    Asana is the best… It is social and lightweight and can be used on all devices. You need to get into the groove of actually using it and not using 5 different lists like reminders, calendars and asana but its definitely the best for what you are describing!

  88. Janko Metelko

    A person writes a to-do, then reality happens and to-do is totally out of sync. The closest I came to usable todos is something I called “throw-away todos”.

  89. Pete Griffiths

    I’m like you – calendar with reminders.

  90. harvestgrand

    I have gmail open all day. I use the built in Google Tasks. It looks basic but is full featured. Love it. The built in “send email to tasklist” has helped me maintain a zero email inbox. I then use the free ipad app called gotasks. Google tasks also integrates with Google Calendar.

  91. Paraag Sarva

    Workflowy.com rocks! Almost the entire marketing team at HowAboutWe.com uses it.

  92. monsur

    For shared tasks between my wife and I (grocery list, etc), we use Avocado (http://avocado.io). For my personal TODO list, I just stick to a Google Doc. After years of trying different apps to optimize my TODO lists, I’ve decided I can’t do better than a simple text outline. It’s highly customizable and available on all my devices. I’ve adopted the same approach to personal finance, where a Google Spreadsheet has proved more useful than any of the apps out there.

  93. Youssef Rahoui

    As about me, I could not work without a task manager. I’ve tried a lot of them. The one we are at present using in my company is Do.com. The code is bad, the mobile apps are terrible but it has many killer features: task assignation, great integration with Google Apps, lightweight lead management, good UI and, last but not least, a gmail plugin that enables you to convert very easily any email in a task: it keeps my inbox empty every morning!

  94. Todd Stilo

    I use my outlook calendar for task management. One nice feature for procrastinators like me, you can easily move incomplete tasks forward as often as needed (hopefully not too often).Although my wife’s low-tech “honey-do” list is still the most effective.

    1. Zaid Zawaideh

      I am the co-founder of Sandglaz. Sandglaz allows you to create flexible task plans that easily adapt to your changing priorities. You simply jot down your tasks into rough milestones. For any tasks you don’t complete Sandglaz will automatically move them forward to the next milestone for you.

  95. pasmith

    How about a poll for the best task manager. I have been underwhelmed with the ones I have tried.

  96. NadaAldahleh

    You touch on a good point with your use of calendar to give a time dimension to your tasks, except you don’t want to shoehorn them into exact times. You want it to be flexible and allow you some choice (e.g. 5 tasks to work on you within the next couple of day, as opposed to 1 task to do at a specific hour). It’s the paradox of choice and long todo lists

  97. Jay Batson

    The number of products mentioned in the comment thread below show that a) this is a crowded space that b) nobody has figured out how to crack, and that c) everybody has their own favorite approach – and no “center” has emerged.I (sadly, for the entrepreneurs who believe in their vision) believe no product will break out in this category. People have been trying for several decades without success. It’s sad, but probably true.

  98. Rich Edwards

    Finding the right task management app to fit one’s particular organizational style is tough. It was my long and fruitless search for an app like this that prompted me and a friend to develop Hover Tasks. It’s web-based, fast, simple and extremely flexible, so you can keep any type of list and organize your lists into areas. It was designed to allow you to quickly focus on what needs to be done, without distraction, and to easily manage dozens or even hundreds of to-dos without feeling overwhelmed. Just like any proud parent, I know I’m biased, but give it a look! It could be a good fit. We’re working on a mobile app now. http://www.hoverhq.com

  99. Kevin Yien

    Big problem, that I don’t think is one size fits all. It seems that many people have ‘their way’ of doing things that works best for them. Trying to get a group of people to follow that is tough.GTD certainly has a pretty strong following, but that is clearly too structured for a lot of people, and can lead to spending too much time organizing your tasks than doing them.Every time I try a task manager, I usually end up going back to pen and paper for a little for a reset.The problem I have with slotting things into my calendar is how to keep track of larger projects that contain multiple tasks. Where do you store those ‘down the road’ tasks, and how do they percolate to the top of your list for you to notice when the time is right?

  100. Ben Busse

    I find workflowy.com pretty lightweight and helpful

  101. Sahil Parikh

    I use Teux Deux for personal todos and Brightpod.com for my team ๐Ÿ™‚ Have been through Wunderlist, Any.do and Clear.

  102. Christopher Herbert

    Toodledo is the best. Read Getting things done to learn how to maximize a task manager. It will change your life.

  103. mdcougar

    Adam, Checkout the video of my soon-to-be-released task manager app that lets you take a picture of your handwritten list. It might be useful to you. http://www.getjotit.com