March 14, 2013

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

Posted in Organization at 6:58 pm by otherdeb

A friend of mine on Plurk, Nimroseita, commented yesterday that, “I put together my to-do list last night. Then I looked at it, and thought I might be slightly delusional.” Than another friend, in a different post commented, “Kinda fell in love with checklists…between various apps on my phone, I can make all sorts of checklists, for recurring stuff, and clear the checklist and start over either weekly or monthly or whatever….has some for my morning/evening routines, one for my monthly budget, one for the grocery list, one for bigger projects, etc. and now I don’t have to write them out constantly! So, I spend a lot less time on planning and budgeting. And I can add stuff whenever, and actually read it because it’s not in my handwriting.” These two plurks generated a fair deal of agreement and discussion, with people recommending their favorite list apps.

The thing is that we do love our lists.  Lists give us the illusion of being organized. They give us a shiny toy to play with. They make us feel accomplished (as we check off items) or disheartened (as it grows and grows).  They can be the most useful tool we have, or the biggest distraction.

I use Toodledo to organize my day and my work, and I use Reminders on my phone for my grocery and other lists. I use Wunderlist for organizing projects around the house. When I remember, I use the task function on Google calendar, where it is easy to move a task to a new date.

I also use Rescue Time Robot to track time, and a Day-Timer to track time on the various knitting projects I have.

I have been trying to reduce the number of trackers I use, but I find that I love them too much Each of them has things that the others don’t.

I asked on Plurk what people’s favorite list apps were, and got the following answers:

  • Pencil and Paper
  • Toodledo
  • Cozi
  • Catch
  • Noodles
  • i Run
  • Tasks
  • Sticky Notes
  • Attention Notes
  • Flylady Helper
  • Home Routine

I am, quite honestly, afraid to check all of these out — I fear that I will find one or more that I cannot live without, and I don’t need another time sink.

But, so long as lists make us feel accomplished, I believe that we will continue to love our lists and list-making apps.

What are your favorite list apps?  Do you prefer to go the paper and pencil (or pen) route?  Why? Do you use making lists to put off getting work done?



  1. My main calendar/do-do list/activity log/etc is a text file called “” that I maintain using a text editor (emacs). Every few days I post the completed items on dreamwidth. Every month I move them to a file called, e.g., 2013/02.done.

    That way, I have a record not only of what I plan to do but of what I actually *did*, whether or not I planned it.

    • otherdeb said,

      Hi Steven, and welcome to my little corner of the universe!

      That sounds like a great plan, although I’m not so sure I’d want to publish my to-dos on quite so public a forum as Dreamwidth. Still, it’s a big world out there, with lots of room for variations.

  2. Janet Wilson said,

    OMG — there are apps for lists?? I’m doomed!

    Seriously, I’m afraid to check out any of them; I spend quite enough time making lists and plans with pen and paper. Sometimes they make me feel I’ve accomplished something when I haven’t, but they do help me get things done just often enough to give me an excuse to go on playing with them. So of course I do.

    • otherdeb said,

      There are so many apps for making lists that you could make lists of them. 🙂

      And I think that we all love making lists because when we look at what we’ve checked off of them, we feel like we’ve actually accomplished something.

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