You’ve probably known a productivity nut like me. Feeling disorganized, we invest all our time and energy into finding the perfect system, or the best to-do app, investing hours in becoming more productive. It’s not a very sensible use of time, but there’s positive side: I’ve already done it, so you don’t have to.
There are a lot of different productivity systems out there, and even more absolutely fantastic apps. I should know: I’ve used most of them. Three have stood the test of time, one for its simplicity, one for its complexity and one for its balanced approach. Let’s break them down before we bestow the crown of best to do list app for iPhone.
Clear is a relative newcomer to the scene, landing earlier this year with quite a bit of fanfare. It’s missing many of the features you probably expect in a to-do app, but that’s part of its beauty.
There are only really three things you can do with Clear: make lists, make tasks, and check them off. There are no notifications, no schedules, no repeat tasks, no sharing. In exchange for the lack of features, it has an incredibly intuitive interface with a gorgeous, minimalistic aesthetic.
Normally trading functionality for looks would be a terrible call, but this actually works in Clear’s favor. If you’re the sort of person that loves making lists but dreads having to actually maintain them, you’ll have no such problem with this to-do app. It loads near-instantly, and adding a new item takes as little time as it takes to type. Checking one off gives you happy, rewarding sounds. The whole experience is a pleasure, making it that much easier to turn task management into a routine.
Though my every instinct insists that I need to be able to schedule tasks and set priorities, using Clear has worked out remarkably well for me. The time I would normally spend organizing my tasks can be better spent elsewhere, maybe even on completing them.
[app id =”493136154″]
2Do makes for a striking contrast to Clear. While it’s still lovely to look at, it takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to functionality. If you follow the Getting Things Done (GTD) method, or just need a hefty selection of features, this might be the to-do app for you.
If you’re looking for deep functionality then 2Do offers something of an embarrassment of riches. Need the option to filter tasks by priority, date, context, list, project or tag? You’ve got it. You can even combine more than one of those filters with custom smart calendars. You can also sync with several external services like Dropbox, Toodledo, iCal and Outlook with varying degrees of success. Repeat tasks, sharing, location-awareness, alarm snoozing, and more—2Do really has everything I’ve ever wanted or needed in a productivity app.
The cost of all this power is a premium price, though it’s quite comparable to similar to-do apps on the market. Also, while the developers have clearly put a lot of effort into 2Do’s user experience, there is a dizzying selection of options, configurations and tweaks to be made. You’ll need to invest some time to get the most out of this app.
[app id =”303656546″]
Orchestra’s pitch is “your to-do list, connected to everyone,” but you don’t need to be part of a team to appreciate its combination of power and simplicity. Like Clear, Orchestra boasts an elegant, usable interface. But in terms of functionality, it leans toward the power of 2Do.
Its list of features isn’t quite as overwhelming, however. Orchestra syncs with its own web-app, but no desktop services. Sub-tasks aren’t included, and you can only filter by list and one level of priority. Repeat tasks can be set by date or time period. Tasks can be added normally, or by email or voice. The email entry options are comprehensive, and the voice entry is quite competent at recognizing words.
Orchestra’s sharing options really shine. You can share tasks with anyone whose email or phone number you have, and you can build a team of fellow Orchestra users to share lists and responsibilities with. The app comes complete with a notification system to keep you up to date on your team’s every move, whether you’re working on a project at work or the chore list at home.
[app id =”459356540″]
App Filter’s Best To-Do App:
I’m not the sort of person who can live with just one to-do app, but if I did, it would be Orchestra. It’s simple enough that task management isn’t a chore, but powerful enough that I feel I have some control over my priorities. It also lovely, both in aesthetics and user experience. That said, if you’re a very dedicated GTD adherent, you’ll probably be better off looking at 2Do. But if your priority is simply to have a place to easily keep track of everything you need to do, Orchestra is a winner.
In coming to our selection for best to-do app, we had to set aside many great options: Wunderlist, OmniFocus, Remember the Milk and many more. Is there a to-do app that you simply can’t live without? Share it in the comments—we’d all love to hear about it either in the comments or in our iPhone forums.