Scraps of paper in a pocket. Sticky notes on the monitor. Scribbles on a hand. We keep our to-do lists in the strangest places. Yet with a smart phone, there's a better solution: Use an app.
No matter which device graces your pocket or purse, there's an app that will help you organize your list. And many are free. Let's look at a few.
This is a full-fledged personal information manager available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (all Apple versions priced S12.99 U.S., from iTunes), Android ($5.99) and BlackBerry ($12.95) that uses the "getting things done" methodology described in Dave Allen's book of the same name. It syncs to online task management site Toodledo.com, or to Microsoft Outlook via an add-on.
This tool (free, from the Android Market) launches from an Android widget and offers scheduled or manual syncing with Google Tasks via your Gmail account. It's a basic program that allows you to enter tasks, notes and due dates.
Also for Android is this somewhat more sophisticated task manager. Astrid (free) offers the basics, plus reminders and the ability to create repeating tasks. It can be synced with online task managers Producteev or Remember the Milk. Optional: location services and voice recognition, for a small fee.
Remember the Milk
Fans of this tool should know there are dedicated free apps for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry, for RTM pro users only (a pro account costs $25 U.S. a year).
This iPhone tool ($4.99) has twice been voted the top productivity app of the year. With the in-app purchase of a $2.99 add-on, it syncs with MobileMe. It is Retina display-ready and location aware (it will arrange tasks according to your location; if you're near the library, for example, the reminder to return that overdue book will hit the top of your list). It also allows multiple lists, which it presents on a tidy tabbed interface, and of course generates reminders and repeating tasks. It even lets you tweet your to-dos if you're so inclined.
A very basic task manager for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, TeuxDeux ($2.99) syncs to its Web-based version. If all you need is a list of tasks with due dates (one of which can be "someday") in an attractive package, it may be all you need.
This one ($2.99) syncs its to-do lists, notebooks, tags and saved searches to Evernote from Windows, Mac, mobile devices or the Web. Its biggest strength is in its multiplatform integration that allows users to move back and forth between computer and iPhone, always having their lists available.
This BlackBerry tool ($8.99) is a comprehensive task manager that integrates with the native BlackBerry task database, so it easily syncs with Outlook or anything else that the native apps can sync with. As well as the expected niceties and a clean, easy-to-use user interface, it offers filtering, sorting, searching, recurring tasks, mass creation or updating of tasks, and touch screen support.
Another BlackBerry app ($19.95), this is a full-featured personal information manager that, like BHive Tasks, uses the existing BlackBerry databases, so any items available in the native app are instantly viewable in Agendus. It provides tasks, calendar, contacts, memos and an enhanced Today view, and syncs to Outlook or anything else the BlackBerry can natively sync to. It is touch-enabled to improve the experience on Torch or Storm. Iambic also sells a bundle of the BlackBerry client and a companion desktop client for Windows for $39.95, and offers iPhone/iPod versions as well ($7.99).
A basic BlackBerry app, this freebie lets you enter and manage to-do lists on the device. You can e-mail lists to friends but can't sync with desktop apps (though of course, when you do a full backup of the device, this data is included).
List it! Do it!
Windows Phone 7's free option is a basic app that lets you enter title, description, due date and time, and assign categories to tasks.
This free Windows Phone 7 app syncs with Remember the Milk. Tasks are organized into lists and contain name, due date (if applicable; "never" is a valid option), tags, priority and task notes. It supports multiple lists, all of which may be searched.
A freebie from Windows, MiTodo is a basic, ad-supported task list that contains only task title, details and due date.
If none of these apps strike your fancy, explore any of the device app stores and you'll find many more, from simple freebies through relatively high-priced apps that do everything but poke you in the ribs when a task is due.