25 To Do Lists to Stay Productive

25 To Do Lists to Stay Productive

I come across many services a day while researching for Solution Watch, and as many of you know, I take a lot of notes to organize my thoughts about them. Until recently, the only method that I used to keep organized with the services I wanted to write about was by reviewing my notes and email, then selecting one from the list. Now, I’ve learned to review all my notes at the end of the day and add each service that I would like to review to an organized to do list.

The problem I was having was that I would write all these notes, but I wouldn’t always get to writing about the services I wanted because sometimes I simply forgot (A Not-To-Do List) or the service got carried to the bottom of my notes archive. I then started to use a to do list and now I am much more organized and every day open my to do list and get a clear overview of what’s on my plate to review. All products are clearly listed all with open check-boxes waiting for me to check them off. I really didn’t think at first something so simple could help so much, but it really did. In fact, even this very post was marked on my to do list to write which I added a couple days ago.

There are a few things I look for when working with an online to do list. I like the service to be clean and organized displaying uncompleted/completed tasks. It also must allow for simple adding and editing of tasks. And lastly, don’t hate me for this, but if I am going to be using this to do list every day for who knows how long, it must be attractive. The way it appears may not matter much to some of you, but it does for me because if I want to get in to the habit of using it, I have to be comfortable when using it. Other then that, any extras are welcome as long as they don’t cause a loss of focus on the to do list itself.

Top 5 To Do Lists: (No Specific Order)

Orchestrate uses a unique method to help you ogranize your to do lists. Rather then simply allowing you to create a list, it lets you create multiple lists each with their own name. Orchestrate then allows you to select the ones you want to see and display them in your little workspace. You can have them all open at once or just a select few, as well as get a basic overview of all lists. Orchestrate has a neat interface with a lot of your usual Web 2.0 type design elements with Ajax and Javascript animations, although it took me a minute to understand how to use it because the way you manage your lists is fairly unique.

Ta-da List, a 37signals product, has always been at the top of my list. It’s strong point is that it’s a to do list and nothing more. It’s clean and simple, gets right to the point, and only provides feature that you actually need. You can create multipe lists and add, edit, re-order, and remove tasks from each list. You also have the ability to share your lists to friend or by using a public address. There’s not much more to it and that is why I like it so much.

Wallnote caught my interest because it allows you to manage your to do list in two ways. You can either access your to do list online at the Wallnote website or you use it on your Windows Desktop. The creator of Wallnote had the idea that, why limit users access to a web browser when they can easily included on their Windows desktop using Windows Active Desktop. It’s a neat idea and effective because when a user starts up their computer, they instantly see the to do list. Wallnote has your basic to do list features where you can add and edit tasks, although the only way to get a task off your to do list is by completing it (no remove option). It also has a little notes area on the left of the task list which I found to be helpful at times.

Remember the Milk is a more feature packed task management solution. It allows you to organize your tasks into tabs and tags, make time specific tasks with automatic reminders and repeat intervals, and even has collaborative features. Remember the Milk may have a lot of functionality, but I felt it did a great job at allowing you to keep the service as simple as you’d like, not making you feel forced to use the extra features. Although, even if you use it with the bare-minimum functionality, you’ll eventually start using all the features. I started testing the service out with my original intent of just using it as a basic to do list without using anything special. As the days passed I found that I started to use the extra features more and more and I found it’s because they really did help me with productivity. Because of this, I decided to make it a top selection.

Rough Underbelly is on my favorites list because it is the only one that really got me motivated to use it. It’s entirely based on the Printable CEO, an idea that has proven to be effective where you give yourself points for completing a task. Rough Underbelly took the Printable CEO a step further and created it into a Ruby on Rails based to do list. You add tasks to your list and set a specific amount of points to each. You can create your own measure of importance for each point amount or use point system provided as example on the left. You then want to make a game out of your list by trying to knock off as many tasks as you can in a day and seeing how high you can get your score. It’s a great feeling completing a task, especially ones with high points!

More Online To Do Lists:

Now, I know many of you know of other to do lists and feel they may be better options then the five I have selected, and that may very well be true. The above five are my personal favorites and everyone has their own preference with these sort of things and because of this, I have decided to list other web-based to do lists that I know of. And yes, I’ve tested every single one and more.

To Do Lists

  • Toodledo – On the more advanced end, Toodledo allows you to organize your tasks into different folders or projects, assign due-dates and priorities, and attach notes to tasks. There is also a pro package available.
  • TaskThis! – You can create tasks with notes and publish them via RSS, or share them so that others can add/complete tasks on your list. Last I used it, it was running a bit slow, but great functionality wise.
  • ListPool – A neat solution that allows you to build your own to do list selecting only the fields you want to add and share them when complete. You can select from preset types of lists or start from scratch.
  • TaskFreak! – Although it’s not a hosted solution and requires you install it on your own server, it’s a great system. Features excellent organization, status marking, and priority control. TaskFreak requires PHP and MySQL/SQLite and installation on your server. Online demo available at site.
  • Time Tracker – Keep track of the time you spend on any task. Add a task and record time-splits until completing the task. You can also view an overview of total time to complete your tasks.
  • voo2do – Advanced task and priority management for busy, ambitious individuals. Features organization by project, deadlines and time tracking, collaborative functionality, and more.
  • Tasks – King Design, makers of Feedlounge, offers Tasks, a commercial suite of web-based task management software. Tasks requires installation on your own server and comes in three packages: Tasks, Tasks Jr., and Tasks Pro.
  • TaskToy – Todo list service with note taking, bookmarking, and projects. Also gives a lot of options for list items.
  • e2doList.com – Allows you to create and manage multiple lists, add notes to individual tasks, share them with others, and set email reminders.
  • Sproutliner – a “supercharged structured to-do list” that has the more advanced feel to it. Source is also available.
  • Tudu Lists – Nice todo list that has a simplistic style to it and features sharing and cool priority functionality.
  • Bla-bla List – Simple and sharable todo lists that uses Macromedia Flash. It also features RSS updates and private sharing.

Online Planners

  • Backpack – A 37signals product that is a personal and business information manager. Add notes, create to do lists, and more. The incorporated to do list is almost an exact match of 37signals product, Ta-da list (mentioned in my favorites above).
  • Zoho Planner – Right up Backpack’s alley, Zoho Planner is a web based planner that allows you to save notes, create to do lists, and manage files and images.

Start Pages

  • Netvibes – Known for its personalized start page, Netvibes provides a great To Do module that allows you to easily add, edit, and remove tasks. If your a Netvibes user, it is a must have.
  • Pageflakes – Related to Netvibes, Pageflakes is also a start page that has a great To Do module. The module features add, edit, and remove of tasks as well as setting due dates to each.
  • TODO List Google Module – Add a to do list to your Google Personalized start page. Includes simple add, edit, and removal of tasks as well as setting due-dates.


  • 30 Boxes – Although 30 Boxes is a web based calendar solution, it also features an excellent to do list where you can add, edit, and remove tasks as well as tag them for organization.
  • HipCal – HipCal provides a nice task manager on the right column of the calendar. It allows you to add new tasks along with due-dates, priority, and alerts.
  • Google Calendar To Do List – Firefox users can setup this neat Greasemonkey script that adds a to do list to your Google Calendar account. Firefox and Greasemonkey extension required.

That about does it for my list! There should be something for everyone in this list and hopefully it will help some of you with productivity. If you know of other to do list solutions, please feel free to share in the comments. Also, if to do lists don’t work out for you, you may be interested in another Solution Watch roundup, Fifty Ways to Take Notes. Lastly, in case anyone is wondering, the to do list that I use is Wallnote. I don’t know what it is, but I just feel comfortable using it.

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Reader Insights

  • Have to do lists helped with your productivity?
  • Do you prefer to use paper when making a to do list?
  • What do you look for in a service offering to do lists?

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