Productivity begins with a to-do list. It’s the first step towards organizing your work and getting it done. To-do lists are essentially a repository of tasks, but they can be much more than that. To-do lists can describe the work, prioritize it and more.
Using a to-do list keeps you focused on what has to be done and limits distractions so can complete work in a timely manner. To-do list apps take a scrap of paper that most of us jot our tasks down on and turn it into a tool for working more efficiently.
What is the best to-do list app? That’s for you to decide. We’ve tried a number of the more popular ones, some of the more robust products and other free ones you can use on your phone, and came back with these results.
Best To-Do List Apps of 2021
Let’s start with the more robust software. Most of these come with free and paid versions that offer more features.
ProjectManager.com is award-winning software that organizes tasks and helps you work more productively. It manages your tasks (and those of your team), allowing you to assign, track and drive progress. More than just a task list, it fosters collaboration, allowing users to share files and increase productivity. Best of all, it’s easy to use.
With multiple project views, there is a tool for everyone. Use calendars to see your tasks by date, task lists to collect all your work in one place and kanban boards visualize your workflow. There’s even an in-depth Gantt chart if you want to plan and schedule your work, and turn your to-do list into a timeline.
In ProjectManager.com, you can assign priority level to your tasks, as well as assign due dates, to help you prioritize your work. You can see this on your personal to-do list or across projects. As those tasks add up, you can filter your to-do list by due date, owner, project and more.
Keeping track of your to-do list is how you manage your time and stay on schedule. Because the to-do list app is online, it’s easy to update your progress. You can log on with any browser or operating system.
If you’re working with a team, you can easily collaborate, adding comments at the task level. To stay updated on progress, set up notifications and email alerts that will be triggered whenever a task is updated or commented. There are even in-app notifications, so you never have to leave the tool.
The wonderful thing about ProjectManager.com is that it can work as a great to-do list app, while also having the tools and features to manage projects, both big and small. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.
Trello is a to-do list app that aims to help teams work better. It manages tasks solely with kanban boards, as its target is collaboration. It can still work as a to-do list for individuals, but since work is usually a collective effort, Trello makes a strong addition to the best to-do list app roundup. It lists tasks and organizes them by priority. Think of it as supersized Post-It notes on a bulletin board.
The tool allows you to add photos, notes, files, lists, labels and color-codes. Like most kanban boards, the cards drag-and-drop from one column to the next as you move through the production cycle. This allows you to organize your work easier. Like any good to-do list app, it allows you to see all your work in one place, including due dates, comments and more. Trello is a great tool for collaborating with teams, whether they’re using Android or iOS. Trello doesn’t offer Gantt Charts, but you can turn your Trello project into a Gantt chart with ProjectManager.com.
Things is a personal task manager that is designed to be almost invisible. If you don’t want to have a fussy to-do list app and just want to get down to business, then this is the tool for you. It cuts to the chase, but not without giving you the features that help you stay organized and reach your goals.
There’s no learning curve, and you can open the app to get going immediately. There are lots of keyboard shortcuts, and it’s simple to copy text from other apps. The only downside is that Things works on Apple products exclusively. If you’re an Android or PC user, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But if you work on a Mac, this might be the right fit for you.
Related: How to Run Microsoft Project on Mac
Todoist is a powerhouse of a to-do list. That means it’s a to-do list app, and much more. It can add tasks and due dates, and there’s an inbox that collects all your tasks as you create them—then lets you move them to whatever project they belong to. That’s on the free version. To create custom filters and labels, plus some collaboration tools, you’ll have to buy the paid version.
Another selling point is that Todoist will work on almost any platform and has browser extensions, so you can use it anywhere. It integrates with Gmail and Outlook as well as Dropbox, Google Maps and more. If you’re looking for a dynamic but easy-to-use to-do list app, then Todoist checks all the boxes.
Best To-Do List Apps for Phone
If you’re looking for a to-do list that you can use on your phone that basically turns your paper to-do list digital with some extra bells and whistles, try these products.
1. Microsoft To-Do
Microsoft To-Do is a daily planner that lets you manage your to-do list online to stay organized wherever you are. It’s great for your personal life or work in that it can be shared with friends, family and coworkers. Tasks can also be broken down into steps with due dates, and you can even set reminders to keep you on track.
Naturally, it syncs with Microsoft 365, so if you’re already using that program, this is going to be a seamless transition. Microsoft To-Do can be integrated with your Outlook email, Windows desktop and more. The price is right. The app is free and works on both Android and Apple phones.
WorkFlowy is a simple to-do list app with an easy-to-use interface. It boils down lists to their essentials, and therefore is great for the person who lives and dies by their task lists. WorkFlowy creates bulleted lists in a web and mobile app. You can share the lists you make, and there are some basic collaboration features included in the free app (there’s also a paid version with more features).
But don’t intend to use it for collaboration, as many other apps do that much better. The paid version of this to-do list app is a bit steep, but the free one is so streamlined it might not appeal to those who want to add due dates, reminders, set up recurring events or integrate with calendars. You can’t back up your data, either, unless you opt for the paid version, which backs up to Dropbox and has password protection.
Toodledo is an online to-do list and task management app. It allows you to write long notes, customize lists, create structured outlines and even track your habits to make you more productive. Toodledo is good for personal tasks, but especially work. It allows you to assign tasks and attach files to those tasks. You can even track time spent on the project, which is key to keeping on schedule.
Speaking of schedules, it has a scheduler features to help you make the most of your free time. Other features include setting up recurring tasks, getting geo-based reminders and viewing tasks on a calendar. Of course, you’ll have to pay for the better features, such as collaboration, and some have complained about the interface being unappealing.
Why More Power is Better When It Comes to To-Do List Apps
These are just a handful of the better to-do list apps. There are plenty more. Once you look into it you might be overwhelmed, but don’t be. If you’re looking for a to-do list app for work, you want one that goes the extra mile. Your task list should be only one of a suite of features designed to plan, monitor and report on your tasks.
Using an app with tools that help you through every phase of the project means you don’t have to jump around from one program to another. Everything is in one place, backing up all your data, letting you know if you’re meeting your targets with detailed reporting and reminding you of important deadlines to keep you from falling behind.
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software with robust task lists that connect to Gantt charts, kanban boards and calendars. Resource management tools make sure your workload is balanced for greater productivity. Real-time dashboards give you a high-level view and one-click reporting helps you make data-driven decisions. Try our task list app free with this 30-day trial offer.