Since 2001, I’ve been an advocate of keeping both one’s calendar and to-do list digital. Since so much comes to us digitally, it makes sense to have a system that allows us to take what arrives digitally to remain digital. Over the years, the specific tools have changed. The system that keeps me on top of everything I have to do has remained consistent.
What I’ve been using and what changed
For more than five years, Toodledo has been my digital task list of choice. I wrote about why I like it in this post. It had all 7 of the essentials I look for in a digital task list:
- “Due date” field and ability to sort by due date
- Repeating tasks
- Note section for each task to house supporting information
- Search feature
- Communicates with your email
- Syncs across all devices
- Voice input
Want an explanation of these essentials and why they are important? Listen to this interview on Productivity Book Group. At the 9:50 mark, Ray Sidney-Smith and I discuss the seven essentials I look for.
But a funny thing happened three weeks ago.
New leadership at Toodledo announced a policy change. It removed valuable components from the free plan. It tripled the price of the paid plan. Toodledo’s own forums lit up with outrage. Long-time users began looking for other places to go.
I don’t mind paying for quality tools. But, I teach organization, time management, and productivity skills. It’s important to be able to offer people an on-ramp for free and have those seven essential elements. If you give me a free car, I can live with it not having a sunroof. But if you want to give me a free car that has no reverse gear, I’m going to say “no thanks.” In my view, Toodledo took away the reverse gear and a couple of wheels.
Will the new leadership establish a sound financial footing and make what had been my favorite product even better? Or, will they price themselves out of the market and the entire business fail? The future will tell.
And so the search was on…
I spent two days playing with demo accounts: Any.do, Asana, Cirkus, Remember the Milk, and Todoist. I looked at how each platform measured up to the 7 essentials. Particularly, I looked at what the free plan included. Other considerations included how long they had been around.
Remember the Milk was the clear winner
Here are some of the features that influenced my decision:
- Smart Add—When adding a task, Remember the Milk allows other elements in that task line. You can add due date, due time, priority, person assigned to, and even notes. This feature is particularly handy when forward emails into Remember the Milk. Change the subject line to the name of the task. Add a due date, time, or priority in the subject line. Smart Add is incredibly handy when adding tasks via voice. Speak the task. Include the due date, time, location, etc. Remember the Milk adds each of those elements to the task.
- Overdue tasks roll to the next day—How do you handle tasks not completed on the due date? That’s been a question in the productivity space for ages. Remember the Day-Timer and Franklin Planner days? We would “arrow forward” tasks and recopy them to future dates. Today, we no longer rewrite. In most digital services, overdue tasks sit in a special section at the top of the list. In Remember the Milk, yesterday’s unfinished tasks migrate among today’s tasks. Yesterday’s “Priority 1” tasks join today’s Priority 1 tasks. Yesterday’s unfinished “Priority 2” tasks join today’s Priority 2 tasks, and so forth. Toodledo has a plan for doing something similar down the road. Remember the Milk has it now.
- Drag and drop—My tasks appear by due date. Sort the “Today” list by “Priority.” My “Fab 5” are now at the top. After that are the tasks for morning, afternoon, and evening. Need further refinement? While viewing the “Today” list, change the sort order to “Drag and drop.” Manually place each task at the desired spot.
- Task swipe on mobile app—Swipe to the right to mark a task complete. Swipe to the left to postpone that task by any desired number of days.
- Multi-select tasks on computer or mobile device to bulk edit–In Remember the Milk, putting a check beside a task doesn’t mark it as “done.” Instead, Remember the Milk, selects that task. Select as many tasks as desired. With the icons which appear above the tasks, mass assign a date, priority, etc.
- Date/time stamp on task notes—Task notes are among the essential 7 features I look for. Remember the Milk takes the feature to a whole new level by date/time stamping the notes. Suppose the task is “Call Bill,” and you wind up leaving a voicemail message. You might put that information in the note field of the task to document the attempt. The automatic date/time stamp keeps you from having to add it manually.
- Assign tasks to other people—Does someone else in your family or organization use Remember the Milk? Create a task and assign it to that person. You see what tasks have been accepted. You and the other person can communicate on the task in the notes area.
- Every task has its own URL—Sometimes one task needs to refer to another. Put the URL for one task in the note section of the other task.
- Rich assortment of keyboard shortcuts—Power users of any program appreciate not reaching for the mouse. Save time by using as many or as few of the shortcuts as desired.
Remember the Milk has been around since 2004. When I chose Toodledo over five years ago, I also considered Remember the Milk. But Remember the Milk then was not what it is now. An impressive upgrade came about in 2016. When I gave this service another look, I was impressed with what I saw.
Want to make a m-o-o-ve?
If you are using another task manager and want to make a change, this article shows you how. Remember the Milk supports importing tasks from Toodledo and Wunderlist. The page also provides help for importing from other apps and services.
I have composed a guide called “Using Remember the Milk with the Get Organized! System.” It’s a perk for email subscribers only. The good news is that you can join today.