When it comes to getting things done, there are many strategies worth trying in order to increase your productivity. But when, say, listening to music, ditching the multitasking, keeping your desk organized, and setting boundaries with your colleagues don’t seem to be cutting it any longer, it might be worth downloading a to-do list app to try.
Because, while all of those aforementioned techniques can be helpful, the most effective way to maximize your productivity is to simply track and manage all your tasks. A pen and paper works great (especially if you fancy yourself to be a talented bullet-journaling artist), but when you have many projects in the works simultaneously that require your attention, keeping track of everything can quickly become overwhelming. Enter: to-do list apps. A whole host of them exist, and each offers unique features to help you, your tasks, and your entire life stay organized and super productive.
And to save you from the perils of decision fatigue, rounded up below are nine to-do list app options that are each perfect for a specific focus. The best part? They’re all free to use, although you can upgrade to paid premium versions that’ll grant you access to added snazzy features.
Found: The best to-do list app for streamlining 9 situations in life.
1. For note-takers: Evernote
Consider Evernote to be your go-to hub for not just to-do lists but all of your notes. Weekly grocery lists, meal plans, work notes, wish lists, and anything else worth jotting down can live in it. You can sort notes into different folders, add tags to categorize them, and make them easily searchable across all of your devices. And these notes can expand beyond the realm of mere words; you can also attach photos, scans, screenshots, voice memos, web clippings, and more. The organizational possibilities are expansive, and everything syncs across all of your devices that have the app enabled, so you’ll never miss a beat.
2. For project management: Asana
Asana works well for those who have many big projects in the works that could benefit from being broken down into smaller, more bite-size tasks. You can organize your tasks by project, create subtasks within each task, add notes, set due dates, and assign tasks to other people. Asana also integrates with other popular organization-optimizing platforms, like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Gmail.
3. For those who live by their Google Calendar: Google Tasks
Google Tasks seamlessly syncs with Gmail and Google Calendar, and even allows users to add tasks straight from their Gmail dashboard. Where Google Tasks really shines, though, is in the simplicity department, both in terms of features and its minimal interface, which is great for anyone who doesn’t feel they need extra bells and whistles.
4. For keeping you motivated: TickTick
What makes TickTick stand out is its features that motivate you to stay on track as you work toward completing your goals. (You can set multiple reminders or “annoying alerts,” for example, to ensure you don’t forget a task.) The to-do list app also rewards users with an achievement score when you complete tasks on time. And, it has a built-in Pomodoro timer, so you can batch to-dos into 25-minute chunks of time for maximum productivity.
5. For visual organizers: Trello
If you’re the type of person who has sticky notes everywhere, Trello will likely land you some heart eyes. In addition to organizing tasks into a list format, you can also organize them by cards and boards. Think of it as a virtual bulletin board where you can drag and drop tasks into different categories and easily track progress. It’s great for managing bigger projects and collaborating with other people. And, like with other to-do list apps, you can integrate it with other platforms, like Google Drive and Evernote, sync information across all devices connected to Trello, and add descriptions and deadlines to each task.
6. For gamifying productivity: Habitica
Bored with your basic task list? Habitica, which boasts three million users, makes things fun by turning your to-dos into a game, literally. You create an avatar, and as you get things done, you level up and get rewarded with virtual gold, which can be used to access more game-like features. In case you need even more motivation, you can cultivate some friendly competition and social accountability (and connection!) by playing with other users.
7. For all-around efficiency: Todoist
Similar to other to-do list apps, Todoist has many features you can play with and use to step up your productive flow. Some examples that are particularly helpful and unique include the ability to set recurring due dates so you never miss a deadline and a favorites section where you can easily access key projects you’re currently working on. If you upgrade to the premium version, you’ll unlock additional useful features, like reminders, task-list templates you can import for uses like making grocery lists and fitness plans, and the ability to track your productivity goals and trends.
8. For meal-prepping masters: Any.do
As its name suggests, Any.do is great for managing any and all types of tasks and projects, but its grocery-list feature is particularly nifty. Simply enter your grocery items (bananas, quinoa, gluten-free oats—you get the picture), and the app will automatically sort the items for you by grocery-aisle category, which will help you minimize your shopping time. You can create multiple lists if you shop at different stores (which is great if you, say, get your protein and veggies at Whole Foods and speciality cauliflower pizza crust at Trader Joe’s), and you can even import ingredient lists from online recipes.
9. For managing all the things: ClickUp
Dubbed as the “one app to replace them all,” ClickUp is not just for listing your to-dos. It also allows you to organize projects; store documents and spreadsheets; manage calendars; and track your goals, emails, chats, and more. Although it’s geared more toward business owners and those who work with a team, it’s a useful app for anyone who wants to streamline their life and have everything in one place instead of having countless tabs open at once.
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