Every day I come into the office and I take out my phone, my laptop, and … a spiral notebook, which houses my written to-do list. I know it's ironic that the ABC News Tech Editor still uses a pen and paper -- an old fashioned tablet -- to remember tasks, but it's always been the way I've kept track of my to-dos.
I finally decided it was time to really try the digital solutions out there, all of which sync your to-do list across devices, including phones, tablets, and the web. After much research, I narrowed it down to three choices: Remember the Milk, Astrid, and Wunderlist.
So did any of them cut the mustard? Did I finally ditch the paper tablet?
Remember the Milk's got a great name, and the app works like a regular to-do list -- you add tasks and then you can mark them complete. You can even set priorities. There's no leaving the list at the office or at home since you can check it on any device. The syncing of the list is almost instantaneous -- add something on the web and it will appear on the iPhone or Android right away. In fact, that goes for all these apps.
There is an Android version, one for the iPhone and iPad, and a web version. The web version is the biggest problem with the service. The website looks outdated and many features are buried in settings menus. I preferred to use the Gmail app, which integrates right into the Gmail interface. There's also a neat trick where you can set it to tweet at you to remind you to do something, but again it's hard to find that feature. Similarly, you can share the list with someone, but that's also not easy to find in the web interface.
There's a lot to like with Remember the Milk, but I personally couldn't get over the ugly web interface and the hidden features. The iPhone / iPad and Android versions are a lot easier on the eyes.
Not content with Remember the Milk's web app, I moved on to Astrid. Astrid works in the same way with synced to-dos and the ability to make different lists. However, Astrid has a much cleaner web interface. It looks like it was heavily influenced by Twitter's website design. The mobile versions are also nicely designed and easy to use.
It's very easy to create a shared to-do list and add collaborators -- for instance, a spouse, roommate, or colleague. Additionally, you can have those collaborators leave comments or feedback on each to-do so they can share details on how they accomplished the task.
Just like Remember the Milk, you can get Astrid apps for Android phones and tablets, Apple's iOS devices, and for the web. Overall, Astrid is a very well-rounded solution, especially for those looking to make collaborative lists.
But Astrid didn't have it all for me. I was really looking for a solution that had Mac and PC apps. And that's when I found Wunderlist. I prefer standalone desktop apps to websites sometimes, and Wunderlist is the only one of the services that offers downloadable Mac and PC versions.
As with the others, you get the synced to-dos and an elegant way of clicking to cross off an item. The collaborative functions aren't as advanced as Astrid's, but there is a way to upload your list and share a link with friends.
However, Wunderlist beats the others on design. The design of all of its apps -- for the Mac and PC, Web, Android, and iPhone -- are very clean and you can even change the background of the interface on them.
So, after all that, did I end up giving up my notepad? Not quite. Turns out crossing out a task with a pen still feels more satisfying than tapping or clicking. I just hope I keep remembering to take my notebook with me every day.