A List of List-Making Tools

The first official to-do list I ever made was in January of 2006 at age 12. I broke my day

ToDo List
First Baby To-Do List

into 15 minute increments and dutifully filled each minute with a task or activity. I know this because in addition to be a neurotic list-maker, I am also a neurotic archivist of my own life.  The biographers will have plenty of material.


Sometime in college, I realized that scheduling out every minute of my day wasn’t healthy for me and I returned to the traditional to-do list.  Problem was, I kept it on my computer’s sticky note application which liked to spontaneously self-destruct, destroying my beautiful lists.

I’ve spent the last 3 years experimenting with various alternatives for the best to-do list tools out there, here are my top 4 for list-making bliss!

#4: Todoist

Todoist is an app that integrates across all devices, has a super clean interface, and todoistbreaks projects down with sub-tasks. It’s meant for simple to complicated to-do lists and does allow for collaboration, but I wouldn’t suggest it for a major project management.

Pros: simple user interface, unlimited lists, gamifies the to-do list by giving you a productivity score and tracking your productivity streak, creates recurring tasks

Cons: have to purchase premium to access labels and filters, no visualization of a project moving through multiple phases, clunky integration with Gmail

#3 Trello

Trello sets the golden standard for robust and fun project management.  Yes, I said fun. Trello goes way beyond your basic to-do list with Kanban boards that let you drag tasks through a pipeline of progress, which is super satisfying.

trello.PNGPros: free version is robust for all household/freelancing projects, 100s of templates from wedding planning to job searching available, great for collaboration, color-coding, and integrates with everything

Cons: bit of a learning curve, overkill for basic list needs, doesn’t integrate well with calendar apps

#2 Google Keep

googlekeep.pngI use Google Keep for temporarily tracking special expenses, planning upcoming trips, and reminding me to send invoices and reconcile my accounts.  It’s a simple and clean as Todoist and integrates wonderfully with all things Google (of course).  You can create reminders from e-mail and Google automatically adds them to Google Keep.

Pros: create recurring tasks easily, collaborate with others, color-coding and labeling for free, cross-device integration, simple to use, chrome extension to save things from the Internet, integrates well with Google Docs and Google Calendar

Cons: no desktop app, not a robust project management solution

#1 Pen and paper

img_20170111_171153While there’s a lot of great electronic to-do list options out there, I wanted to be able to check out where I was with tasks for the day without opening up my laptop and inevitably end up watching cooking videos for 4 hours on Facebook.

I used sticky note style lists for a while, which are great for daily to-do lists, but not great for longer term planning.  Luke got me a Nomatic planner + journal last year for Christmas and I’m in love.  It makes it easy to create daily repeating tasks and helps break down monthly and weekly goals into day-sized bites.

Pros: non-digital option, satisfaction of physically checking things off, handwritten goals are more likely to be accomplished

Cons: might spill coffee on it, no device compatibility, zero integrations


What are your favorite list-making tools?


Last Check

Once Upon A Time I came home from college for Christmas break.  And by “A Time” I mean 4 weeks ago.  The sudden halt of activity and interactions jarred my sense of stability but there was Christmas to be celebrated, God to be worshipped, presents to be exchanged, and food (and food and food) to be eaten.  Just before the “Christmas Thud” overtook me, I was rescued by my to-do list.

A mere sticky note could not contain this masterpiece.
I listed people to visit with and projects to master, new skills to learn, habits to begin, books to read.
While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friends and repainting my bathroom and running every day, I was still resting.  For me, true rest is not in social interaction or sleeping or laying on the couch reading.  I enjoy all of those things but true rest is in God.

I began feeling frustrated that my intellectual and spiritual growth were slowing down just because I was slowing down.  However, with some good conversation with friends and God I realized this didn’t have to be the case.  I’ve learned different things here at home, but I am still learning and still in awe of all that I don’t know and get to discover.

Now, this computer is the only thing I haven’t packed yet.  My to-do list is completed and instead of feeling relieved, it makes me a bit sad.  Sad because I don’t have things to accomplish and sad also because having things to accomplish has become so important to my sense of stability.  Still a work in progress with that one.

I feel empty and I don’t know if it is just the angst of transition or sadness about leaving such a lovely home or trepidation for what the future holds and confused because all of these feelings are rather foreign to me.  I have so much to learn.