Hey HN! I'm looking for new ways to keep track of my personal to-dos. I started using Google Tasks a few years ago and stuck with it for awhile but over time I fell out of the habit and now I'm ready to declare bankruptcy on the remaining tasks. I'm especially interested in finding something always-on (or always-on-top) and maybe with an intrusive reminder to make sure it's still accurate on some kind of schedule.
My email/calendar server has "Tasks" as part of CalDAV which I use with the Tasks.org app on my phone and a widget at the top of my home screen. Every time I create a task I set a notification or two for a future time.Reply
I use Jira, though rarely interact with it via the web interface or board.
I assign due dates to most tasks (only the least important tasks don’t get a date - and I never get to those) and then I use some custom components written for xbar on Mac and Scriptable on iOS to make sure that every screen I look at shows me the items that are due today.
I can create a new task and assign a due date by talking to my phone using Siri or shortcut on Mac and iOS. I’ve also got a shortcut that clears my list for the day and pushes everything out until tomorrow, which I might use of a weekend.
I’ve been doing this for 5 months and have 175 items in Done, which is huge for me as I’m a procrastinator.Reply
I have a big whiteboard on the wall and write my to-dos on there. Being big and in the open is important--if you can hide away the task list, it won't be effective. It needs to hang over you, literally. You need to be able to see it •unintentionally* and think "oh, right, that. Better get it done".
I also have an accountability check-in every other week with a friend, where we set goals and talk about getting them done, etc, as a means of having some accountability to someone other than ourselves.Reply
I tried every todo app and personal organization and management system I could think of over a few years. I eventually gave up and moved to a nice notebook and a decent pen (Leuchtturm and Muji ballpoint pens) and haven’t looked back. I write the date every morning and start a new “section”, copy over anything from the previous day that doesn’t have a “check” mark, and write any new things I think I might need to get done. This has made a huge impact on me getting things done, both at work and in my personal life. It’s a stupid simple method and the only one I’ve stuck with.Reply
I use TickTick. It has a global shortcut to quickly add a new todo.Reply
One word: Todoist.
- I've been using it for 7 years and there's nothing better out there.Reply
I have been (ab)using GitHub issues for todos, notes, links and other notes for around 5 years now. I keep it in a private repo called "me" and it works quite well. I can easily label different issues by "Health" (one example of a label I use to track ideas for how I can be more healthy) or "ToDo"/"High Priority" and searching through them works quite well too.Reply
Org mode for EmacsReply
The tool should be the least interesting component of your system for getting things done. It should be so simple that it never distracts you. Trello works for me, but other things would too.
There’s no tool that can mask a lack of disciplined, conscientious work.Reply
All productivity tools require some “farming” or “gardening”, that is tending to regularly to maintain them.
Every morning I burn through my emails. then run through my calendar, then my todo lists, then make a plan for the day. You have to keep revisiting and updating.Reply
Windows Notepad. Simple, plain text. I've developed my own annotation and formatting system (CAPS for titles, single dashes for bullets, indented dashes for sub-bullets, triple-asterisks for follow-up, and so on). I've been using it since Windows 3.1.
I use Google Keep for shopping lists because of the checkbox functionality and sync to Android, but I expect to keep using Notepad until it's sunsetted.Reply
I print out a physical checklist a few times a year & magnet it to my fridge.
Then every week, I pull a few into my planner and try to do a couple things a day, which I micromanage with a daily bullet journal style thing.Reply
I've kept everything in a single text file for a few years now. I store it in github and have some scripts to sync it, append to it with a time stamp and do some other things. At the start of the day I look at yesterday's entry, and then I add to the new entry throughout the day and when I log off. It's a todo list and knowledge store, like if I fix some obscure issue I'll write what I did there. Initially I cared a lot about structure and tried to maintain it as a task list with a particular syntax, but now I write dot points and short paragraphs about whatever I'm doing. I do want to fancy it up someday and create an indexing system based on tags/topics, but it's done the job thus far.Reply
I use task warrior, which is a cli based tool mentioned elsewhere in the comments. However I use it both interactively (1 task at a time) and with a couple of bash scripts to create entire "projects" with dependencies in it. 1 command, a project name and sub-project name, a deadline, and 10 or 20 tasks are created for me.Reply
To be honest, most of the time I lack the discipline to track my tasks in a tool. But what came closest to being useful for me is Super Productivity. It's MIT licensed, can be integrated with Jira, GitHub, Gitlab and Open Project and has a built in Pomodoro Timer that helps me to find focus.Reply
I periodically print a to-do list on a quarter-panel of an 8 1/2" x 11" paper sheet. I fold it twice (by length and width) and carry it in my back pocket. I may add to-do items to it with a pen or pencil. I cross off finished items.
When most items are completed I create a new updated list and toss the old one into a "pile" (my favorite data structure!).Reply
I use my calendar to block off my time for different activities and I use a separate reminders list for each day of the week for the things I need to do. All this is done on my iPhone.
This way is good because if I don’t manage to get to do something on the list I can just move it to the next appropriate day. At a glance I can see if there was anything I missed doing the day before.Reply
I've been using the excellent Things¹ across devices, but now that Apple's Reminders app has list sharing² I'm wondering if I even need that.
For stuff that absolutely, positively needs to get done, I'll sometimes report to the aggressively-persistent Due³.Reply
I use 3x5" note cards - use a new one every day.Reply
I keep it very simple. A big text file (with markdown syntax highlighting these days) in something that is almost an append-only format, mimicking a paper journal but taking advantage of editing/insertion capabilities. Each Sunday I add the upcoming days of the week at the bottom, fleshing out a basic plan of what's happening. Each day I note down what got done and move things around, planning for upcoming days. The 'anchor' reminder is keeping track of my sleep, which has been a terrific help for sleeping properly. Around monthly I'll build a "todo list", an awful lot of which will never get done, and between weekly chunks I have bigger blocks of writing on just about anything.
I've never had success with the systems and apps that require maintenance, there's just too much cognitive burden in reviewing and cleaning them. It's much easier for me to just rewrite from scratch, maybe copying a few items, and then accept I can ctrl+f a previous month if necessary.Reply
I used to use third party systems, but a few years ago Apple added all the features I needed to Reminders, so that's what I use.Reply
Todoist for task backlog, Google calendar timeblocking for day planningReply
Anything for me to do/process goes through a quick Eisenhower Matrix in my mind and I drop them in the bucket I want it to. My primary focus (top-right) usually goes to a date on the calendar. The others lands in a plain text, with an Orgmode-ish organization/pattern (no, not in Emacs).
This is the simplest and most effective so far that I have broken down to.Reply
Work: Obsidian with the calendar plugin.
Personal: paper notepad. The timelines are longer and the lists are shorter, it doesn’t need anything fancy.
In both cases embrace the Bullet Journal notion of having a regular step where you decide to scratch items you’re not really going to do. Otherwise the list keeps growing no matter what system you use.Reply
I keep unread messages in my inbox. 10 in there right now.Reply
OneNote (the older one bundled with MS office, windows) has a dock to desktop feature that keeps it always on top. Windows maximize around it. Truly an underrated feature, too bad it’s poorly supported.Reply
Org mode in Emacs.Reply
GTD. Been using the gtd system with obsidian for almost 2 years now. I sometimes fall out of sync with it, particularly during high stress times where I lose the motivation to work in a disciplined way, but it’s never too hard to get things back under control.
Most days I go through my next action lists when I’m thinking of stuff to do and review it each week to do any re org.Reply
It's a note taking app but it has three very useful features
1) you can make anything into a checkbox
2) you can #tag anything
3) you can create "views" that display tagged content e.g. #admin AND #priority NOT #waiting
This combination effectively lets me evolve my own todo system and note system at the same time. So over time you build up a knowledge base of how you completed previous tasks that's relatively easy to find again.Reply
I use my remarkable to note everythingReply
Google Tasks for basic day-to-day stuff, typically up to a week out from the current day.
For overflow beyond that, I have a Google Sheet that just keeps growing. I categorize activities into their basic category, and then tag them with one of the following: “urgent and important,” “urgent and not important,” “not urgent and important,” or “not urgent and not important.”
What “urgent” means is obvious, but “important” is intentionally vague. Specifically, it’s “important to me and not necessarily anyone else.” It’s a value judgement encapsulating a lot of things. Do I enjoy it? Do I care? Will it help me achieve something? Do I feel happy for having spent time on it? Etc. It’s best used as a quick gut check.
I then order from top to bottom in terms of urgency, and then importance. This way, discipline is pretty much out of the question: I simply pick the top item and get to it, as logic has already dictated that it’s the most urgent item, which by definition has to come first. Beyond abject urgency, items sort themselves by their importance to me, therefore also removing discipline (I don’t need to be disciplined in order to work on things that are important to me).
This way, it’s kind of a self solving system, as problems identify themselves quickly and naturally. If I’m always stuck in one of the “urgent” quadrants, I need to reduce my workload so that I can do more of what’s important to me. And if I’m spending a lot of my time in one of the “not important” quadrants — why? Clearly something needs to change.
The sweet spot is “not urgent and important.” That’s where I want to spend as much time as possible.
I also have fields for things like “next action,” “sub-steps,” “what’s blocking it,” etc. Plus fields for tracking progress of each sub-step (not yet started, in progress, wait, finished, etc).
I use this system for everything — basic to-do’s, app ideas, whatever. It requires a decent amount of sitting down and organizing things, but that organization process is an important time for self-reflection.
It’s low tech, but like how my best financial system is putting time aside each Sunday to manually log every cent I spent that week, it’s effective in that nothing escapes my brain and I’m consistently forced to self-reflect. No other system for me has stuck.Reply
Vyvanse and the calendar built into my phone.Reply
I use a A4 size paper notebook. Every day, I use a new "double page", put the date on it and reserve the left upper quarter for a Todo-List (max 5 items) and its specific notes AND all appointments with time for this day.
The list is only for this single day. The rest 3/4 of the two pages is for notes from meetings or ideas. If there is not enough room, I just turn over and use the next two pages completely for notes. If I don't need the second page, I don't use it or paint something nice (this is important, because I don't wanna turn pages for a single day)
If I remind a todo, that is not for today, I put it on the LAST 2 pages of the notebook. One is for SOON (last page) and the other is for ANYTIME (before SOON).
My daily routine is:
- Check yesterday, put all unfinished todos on the top of the new page
- Check my calendar and also put all important appointments on the list
- Check the notes from yesterday, if there is something important
- Check the last two pages, if there is something, I might wanna do today
- Use my smartphone to "screenshot" yesterday and mail it as backup
- Having the paper notebook ALWAYS with me
Works pretty good so far, but it requires discipline and it's a lot of management work. But it is also a good "worklog"...Reply
i gave up on “managing” it. i have a giant text file with maximum of one level indentation for subtasks in vscode. i just append anything as one task per line that i have to do or remember and then go about my day. i only ever get back to it if i really think i forgot something. occasionally i will delete a few lines that are not needed anymore or done when i notice while adding something new. the main purpose is to get ease of mind and reduce anxiety as i always know i have noted it down and could structure it more if i needed to. occasionally i will check in a version to git as backup and to spot accidental file changes or in case i ever want to look at some history of what i removed.Reply
I use https://noteplan.co - it integrates calendars, reminders and markdown notes.
Calendars and reminders use their respective MacOS system apps (those can be used with Exchange, CalDAV and CardDAV servers which is important to me). The note-taking part of the app has a lot of niceties (task management, subfolders, tags, wiki-style-links, attachments, ...) and is split into a general-purpose "notes" folder and a "daily notes" folder. If you open a daily note, you get a combined view of a markdown note for the day in the center, your calendars and reminders on the right and all your general-purpose-notes in a sidebar to the left. I find this combination so useful that Noteplan is the only app I (very grudgingly) a) pay a subscription fee for and b) sync via a commercial cloud service - in this case Apple's CloudKit.Reply
You could write your own todo list app. Let's face it, there are plenty of examples out there! ;)Reply
I use a combination of a TODO.md file shared on all my devices (two laptops, one phone, one VPS) with Syncthing, Google Calendar, and leaving emails/messages unread for external requests.
I've tried Notion, Trello, and Keep in the past: they felt over-engineered and too reliant on having an internet connection/browser window open, so in the end I always found myself going back to basics. Haven't had a single problem with my current setup so far.Reply
I'm a huge fan of https://momentum.earth.
It's the best GTD system I've seen online, and the infinite sub-tasking/grouping, where each grouping can be set to be done either sequentially or in parallel, either surfacing the next task or all the tasks in the "Next" list automatically is amazing.
Throw in the review settings, and the big picture areas of responsibility? And end-to-end encryption?
I use the cli tool taskwarrior -- https://github.com/GothenburgBitFactory/taskwarrior or https://taskwarrior.org/ -- which does have a remote sync option. If you're a "I live in the terminal" kinda person, you might get on well with it.Reply
Notion. I created new page with an inline kanban board, except instead of "todo, in progress, and done" the columns are simply days of the week. This allows me to schedule tasks and accept that some aren't getting done today.
Every task in the board is also its own page (Notion creates a database) so I can keep track of notes and other useful content right on the task. Once it's complete I pull the task out of the board, and now it's a self documented project history.Reply