To do list task managers and full productivity software is essential to a freelancers business. The style of design your looking for in a to do list app will differ based on the size of your small business, the nature of the services you offer, and your personal preferences.
You may be a one man freelancer and prefer a stripped down, easy to use task app that syncs well in the cloud and works with your preferred devices. Or you may regularly work with a team and need some specific features to have you all working in harmony and efficiently.
While every user will have different needs in a to do list manager, there are some features that clearly add functionality, and looking at them will help you choose the best to do app for you.
How a to do list task manager implements these features has a big impact on it's user base. Here are some of the most prevalent and useful features to consider in reviewing task based productivity software:
- Categories, Tags, Smart Lists, and Hierarchies - Simple to do list managers will keep lists flat, possibly allowing you to categorize or tag your tasks (or use GTD methodology to segment your tasks based on where you are). More complex apps offer the ability to place tasks into hierarchies, which allows you to organize your to do items into projects or different areas of your life.
- Priority Settings, Due Dates, Reminders, and Calendar Views - Being able to mark an item as important gives you the simple ability to quickly look up what the next item on your list is to tackle. Due dates and calendar features allow you to plan your tasks well into the future.
- Note Fields and Document Storage - Attaching a note to a task item allows you to add important information needed to complete the task, or additional steps, such as talking points for a meeting or list items for a trip to the office supply store. Having the document right there attached to the task is great for improving collaboration efficiency.
- Online Access and Data Synching - For freelancers on the go it's helpful to have access to our task lists anywhere and on our most used devices. For me, it's essential to have a to do manager that can be accessed online, on my laptop (on my favorite operating system), my smart phone, and synch with my other devices (like my iPad).
- Data Security and Portability - Having our data secured in the cloud is essential to protecting our information, as well as our clients data. It's also important to not be completely locked into any one system. A task manager that allows for easy backup and data download in a common format is an often overlooked feature.
- Collaboration Tools - For many of us solo freelancers we have little need to share our to do lists. For those of us that work with regular clients as part of their team though, this can be a must have feature to consider for your task manager solution.
- Simple UI Design and Customization Options - Do you want another bulky app that will take you time getting set up with, or one designed intuitively, that you can jump into immediately and start using? I know which one I'd choose. It's nice as well when there are additional features that are available, without impacting the UI (such as Hotkey options) or the ability to customize the UI.
- Advanced Features - There are some advanced features that can set productivity apps apart, such as the ability to sync with your favorite apps, like Evernote and others, as well as natural language ability for ease of setting to do tasks.
- Affordable Pricing - All of these features need to be weighed against the price of the solution. Some of the featured to do list managers below are affordable, others more expensive, and some are free. Surprisingly, many of the affordable (and free) options are high quality and worth trying out.
Featured To Do List Apps
If you're still lugging around a paper based day planner, then now is the time to switch to digital. Here are 20 to do list apps that will help you get organized and increase your productivity.
Keep an eye on features you are looking for, what fits your freelance company's needs, and give these apps a trial run. Many of these apps are free or have a free trial version to get started with.
This is the to do list manager I currently use. It looks like a native mac app, has an intuitive UI, which you can change the skin of easily to fit your taste. It has most of the features mentioned above, such as categorizing, prioritizing, setting due dates, notes, multi-device synching with the cloud, and collaboration tools.
It does lack the ability to tag and organize your tasks with hierarchies. It also lacks a full calendar view or calendar integration. With a price tag of free though, it's an awesome solution that I've been happily using.
Teuxdeux is a simple task manger that is free on the web and has an affordable iPhone app that synchs with the cloud. It has one calendar view, which is weekly with Someday tasks shown below.
With the limited functionality and simple design you can get up and running quickly. It does lack collaboration, note fields, categorization, and other features you may need. This is a nice bare-bones solution that could work well for solo freelancers with little need for advanced task manager functions.
This app has been around for ages. When writing this article I logged into the app with an account I hadn't used in years. The app is still as intuitive, simple, and easy to use as it always has been. It fits in with the 37 signals software design philosophy of less is more.
It features the simple ability to make multiple lists, with multiple items, add notes, share them with others, and complete tasks. It's free to use, but lacks helpful features, such as setting due dates, tagging, and adding notes. It does have a well thought out mobile version when browsing to the site on your iPhone as well.
Remember the Milk is a web application with numerous mobile app options on popular devices. It can also integrate into Gmail, Outlook, and other apps. This task manager allows you to create an unlimited number of lists, which can be prioritized, tagged, have notes added, and more. It has sharing features and advanced notification options. Some advanced options for this to do manager require a Premium subscription. Most of the features though are free to use.
Do it Tomorrow is about as simple as it gets for managing your tasks. The only thing simpler would likely be plain old paper. This app has a simple interface with two columns, one for tasks to do today, and the other for tasks to do tomorrow. Anything you don't complete today will automatically get moved to the tomorrow column.
The interface is beautifully designed and has multiple app options for popular gadgets. There is a small cost for these apps, but accessing the app via the web is free. While this is a great solution for simple task management, if you need to keep track of advanced projects and deadlines, it’s likely not the app for you. Here is a more in-depth review of Do it Tomorrow.
Toodledo is a robust task manager solution. It offers all the tools you'd want to organize your tasks, such as tags, contexts, and subtasks. It has numerous options for working with your various devices, through native apps, browser extensions, and more.
Toodledo has advanced customization options and for Premium users the ability to share tasks and collaborate. It offers a unique scheduler and can send you alerts. You can get started with a free account or upgrade to Premium to take advantage of its more advanced features. Visit the Toodledo Task Manager Review here on FreelanceSwitch for more in-depth information.
Flow has a mac feel, with a polished, beautiful UI design. It function on a PC in your browser, but has a standalone app for mac users, as well as iPhone and iPad apps. If you're a Mac user, you'll love this app. This app is more than a simple task app to track your to do list. It has advanced collaboration ability, allowing you to assign tasks to other users, and work with your team.
It also helps cut down on your need for long-winded email discussions by including a commenting system. Flow is made to track both your personal and work projects in one application, yes this productivity app can be used to manage all your projects and life.
Hitask is another high quality collaboration task manager. This to do list app has great data support and is ubiquitously available across whatever device you'd like to use. It has a clean interface design, though it feels a bit more at home in Windows operating system.
There is a calender integration built in, as well as ease of use collaboration, and management features by task or project. Popular blogger Chris Brogan also gave the app high marked in this review: HiTask is My New Favorite Organizer.
Todoist is a leading personal task manager that's useful, fast and easy to use. It has a clearn interface design. It integrates with various browsers, email apps, and operating systems. Tasks are organized by project type and can be color coded. It's a simple task based web app that you can get up and running with for free quickly. It does have a Fremium business model, so you can add additional features at low cost if you need them, such as labeling ability and more.
10. Get it Done
Get it Done is an easy to use and powerful to do list task app. It's as easy to keep track of your grocery list as it is to use to keep track of your client projects. It supports many of the features you'd want in a to do list manager, such as tags, calendar syncing, notes, task delegation, secure data backup, and more.
The app is based from the productivity book Getting Things Done. So if you're a fan of that popular productivity system, then you'll feel right at home in this productivity application. They support apps in iPhone, iPad and Android, all the major operating systems, and of course everything is synced in the cloud application.
11. Stay Useful - Do
This is a very simple to do list app. It doesn't have any advanced features, or even common tagging, assigning due dates, or categorizing features. That's part of the beauty of it though, it's very easy to use and focussed. It allows you to narrow down to what you need to get done today. It reminds me of how I use paper lists. I always write down todays task with good old pen and paper, so I have a focused list of what I need to do at work for the day.
I use my task app managers to track most of my longer term tasks. This manager could replace pen and paper for managing tasks for me. It has a simple interface that can be accessed through any browser on just about any device. It's a web based to do list, but boasts the ability to function while offline.
Producteev is free for up to 2 users. It's a powerful to do list task manager and full feature project organizer. The interface is really well designed and it has powerful featured packed inside it. It's available across multiple devices and operating systems. It offers advanced collaboration options and calendar synching.
It's organized first by workspaces, which is a sectional way to organize your projects. It offers multiple options for importing tasks, it can be done via email, Twitter, IM, and more, which brings loads of flexibility to how you can add tasks. This is one of the best to do list managers available.
Coolendar is a to do list app with a narrow focus. It lacks many advanced features, but has an attractive and easy to work with interface. It doesn't have collaboration features, so it's a solution more aimed at solo freelancers.
Rather than organizing your tasks with categories, this app uses hash tags. Coolander allows you to manage your time and tasks without complicated features getting in the way. In addition to a web app interface there is also an Android and iPhone app available as well.
If you're a big fan of the Getting Things Done method, then you'll love Vitalist. It implements GTD in an accessible online to do list app. You can access via your web browser on just about any device. It's set up to easily implement GTD fully, so contexts can be assigned to tasks, as well as due dates and priorities. It features collaboration options as well. This productivity app is feature packed, but it's interface design feels dated.
15. Google Tasks
If you're a big Gmail user, then Google tasks is a simple solution you can use for task management. It's a small window that opens to use for sorting your tasks directly in Gmail, it ties into Google Calendar, and can be accessed through any browser, like all Google services. While not a full featured project manager, this is an excellent addition to your inbox for tracking to do items and staying on top of your priorities.
Gtdagenda is a to do list manager app that allows you to implement a GTD system. It has multiple tier categorization, which begins with goals, then you can organize projects, lists, and more inside of goals. You can set schedules, which are templates for recurring tasks.
This is a simply designed app, available in multiple languages, and cloud-syncs. It works on mobile apps and in your favorite browser. It's a bit more pricey then some of the other apps available. This app is really straightforward to use and will boost your productivity.
Checkvist is a a to do list task manager that has implemented simple sharing tools. You can easily share a task, with functionality much like the interface in Google Docs. You also have an option of making a list public and accessible on the internet. This productivity app is simply designed and lean to work with. This cloud to do app has multiple features, such as hierarchical lists, advanced keyboard commands, ability to assign tasks, tags, due dates, and more.
Nozbe is a robust to do list task manager that supports a feature rich web platform. You can tap into this cloud application via your web browser, mobile phone, or iPhone app. It's a mature productivity app with a simple interface that's easy to interact with and drag and drop tasks.
In addition to everything you'd want in a task manager, it also supports GTD methodology. It has more advanced features as well, such as integration with Evernote, the ability to add docs, and collaboration tools. This is a solid solution for those looking for an easy to use to do list app that supports advanced team functionality.
Plancake is a to do list manager that stands out by being open source. You can create a free account on Plancake's domain or install the productivity software on your own server. It's a simple interface and supports many of the features you'd want in todo list productivity software.
It works on any computer, tablet and smartphone - even without an Internet connection (works offline), and it has a Chrome extension. It's setup for putting the GTD system to use and supports current task options to speed up your productivity.
Dooster is a full featured task manager and productivity app. This cloud application is robust and made to compete with Basecamp and Outlook. It's organized based on projects, you assign projects and then organize your to do tasks inside them. The cost structure is also based on projects, starting with a free account for 3 projects and scaling from there.
This web based productivity app offers excellent data protection through Amazon, useful collaboration options, and interesting extras like mindmaps. It boasts everything you'd want in a to do list manager and full productivity software.
Have you a fallen in love with a do do list manager? Did we miss any awesome web based task list applications? What productivity app features are essential for your business? Let us know in the comments below.