Tired of confusing and overwhelming to-do apps? These simple task management tools are all about making you productive and getting things done, without the hassle of learning technology.
The perfect productivity tool doesn’t exist. It’s all about finding an app or method that works for you, something that gets you to do the work instead of making excuses. With a lot of to-do lists and task management apps, you spend more time figuring out how to use the app than how to do the task.
Don’t be overwhelmed. These minimalistic and simple to-do apps will ensure you concentrate on getting things done.
1. Dwij (Chrome): Light, Private Tasks and Notes Manager in New Tab
If most of your work happens in the browser, Dwij is the perfect productivity extension. It replaces the New Tab page with a lightweight, offline task management page. It clocks in at only 175 KB, and all your data is stored locally on your computer, thus making it private and secure, as well as blazing fast.
Dwij features two types of widgets: to-do lists and notes. You can make as many of these as you want in the dashboard, and resize them to your preferences. Give each a title, such as Home Tasks, Project 1 Tasks, Project 2 Tasks, etc. Mark any task as low, medium, or high priority (with corresponding colors), and satisfyingly strike it off the list when done.
The notepads are a nice touch especially for Chromebook users, who often don’t have a good sticky notes app to quickly jot down some text. You can also keep project-specific notepads this way, next to the tasks list. The simplicity makes Dwij one of the most productive New Tab extensions for Chrome.
Download: Dwij NewTab for Chrome (Free)
2. Prioritize (Web): No-Signup Matrix for Task Prioritization
Task management is all about priority. One of the best methods to know what deserves your attention is the Eisenhower Matrix productivity system. It spawned several other matrices for tasks as well. And they all come together in the neat and nifty Prioritize web app.
This web app needs no registrations, and the browser cache will remember your tasks till you delete them. In each quadrant, create a new sticky note for a task (or a group of tasks). You can add photos, basic text formatting, and move the notes around.
Prioritize comes with five popular matrix-based productivity methods: the Eisenhower matrix, the Moscow matrix, effort/impact, risk/value, and the RICE matrix for product managers. In one click, you can change between them, while your notes stay intact.
3. Overcast (Web): Google Calendar Alternative for Task Management
Several productivity experts recommend using a calendar as your to-do list. It forces you to chalk out time slots for your tasks, especially if you struggle with time management. This way, you have to estimate how long a task will take, and then start doing it at the set time.
But try doing this in Google Calendar and you’ll be overwhelmed by the mess in there already. Most of our Google Calendars are a mix of appointments, birthdays, reminders, and other scheduling events. It’s not a clean environment where you’d feel like adding a single task.
Overcast is a simple, minimalist alternative for Google Calendar. You’ll see a whole week’s view at a time. Click a slot, write your intended task, choose the end time. And that’s it, your attention is blocked for that task at that time.
You can also color-code tasks, making it easier to multitask between different projects. Tasks can also be set to repeat daily, weekly, or monthly, for those routine recurring things that need to get done.
4. OoDeLally (Web): Printable Customizable Planners for Home
OoDeLally lets anyone create a free printable planner for home time, weekends, summertime, etc. You don’t need to sign up, just edit the sheet as you want and print it out. But pay attention, it has a few cool tricks.
There’s a big header, with today’s date, and a motivational message customized to the day. Of course, all of this can be edited quickly and easily.
On the surface, you simply make a list with checkboxes. Each item has a time, a title, and a comment. You can also add small icons next to these from the built-in library of free illustrations, making it more entertaining for kids. All tasks can be moved up and down easily.
In the bottom-left corner, you can choose Legibility settings depending on the reading level of kids in your home. Emergent Reader will make it all-caps, and convert ‘&’ into ‘and’, and Early Reader and Fluent Reader make similar adjustments.
You can also customize the layout to add or remove checkboxes and add or remove a side-bar with notes or an auto-suggested daily fitness routine.
Once you’re done, print out the planner and give it to all the people in your house. The list is saved in your browser cache, so the next time you visit the website, you can open it up again to work on it.
5. Printable-Checklist (Web): A Simple, Bare-Bones Checklist to Print
If you don’t want all the features of OoDeLally, check out Printable-Checklist, a bare-bones checklist creator that you can print out. Just add tasks one after the other to make your list, in big legible writing. Edit the header as you see fit.
Print and distribute it, and people can tick each item they finish.
6. Today (Android, iOS): One Task to Finish Side-Projects in Dedicated Time
Most to-do lists and task management apps are all about listing a whole bunch of tasks that you need to get done. Today makes things much simpler. You only have one task, and you need to do it for the allotted time.
Let’s say you have a passion project or a side project. You always wanted to write a book? Well, Today is going to ask you to make a single task about that project and assign an amount of time to it. So for example, write 1,000 words, and give yourself one hour.
Set the task to repeat as many times in a week as you want. There are no reminders in the app, it’s up to you to start it, activate the task, and begin. You can pause the task at any time to stop the countdown. Resume it when you want, the job is to work on the task for that many minutes or hours a day.
By keeping things to one task per day, you aren’t going to be overwhelmed by too many objectives. And by making it about dedicated time, you’ll also ensure you don’t phone it in. Just do that one thing regularly, and you’ll even turn it into a habit once you start a streak.
The Best Cross-Platform To-Do Apps
The one issue with a lot of these apps is that they require you to use the same device. You can’t switch from the phone to the computer to see the same task list. If you want that feature, you’ll need to sacrifice simplicity and check the best to-do apps that sync tasks across platforms.
Choose one of these excellent to-do apps if you want to have your tasks and checklists synced on all your devices.