Good To-Do List Manager? Anyone?

by David on July 25, 2010

I was watching Twitter today and I saw a conversation between Cali Lewis and Dave Curlee taking place. Cali expressed frustration with the iPhones built-in Notes application and asked for other suggestions from her followers. Dave mentioned that Cali should use Evernote, a program that I have been using for years. It was my note-taking tool while I finished my colloege degree over the last few years, and it has been very useful for podcasting and recording shownotes.

I am personally a big fan of Evenote for a number of reasons. First, and this is not nuthin’, it’s free. The free account does a bandwidth limitation, but I have never run up against it. Not even close. For power-users, you can buy a subscription to get more bandwidth.

Second, everything is searchable, even your pictures. Take a picture of a sign or the front cover of a book, and after it is indexed on the system, you can search for the words in the photo. I don’t care who you are, that is just freakin’ cool.

And third, the entire thing is synced to the ‘net. So I can use the program on my desktop computer, then pull up all of my notes on my iPhone. And if I’m at a computer other than my own, I can log into the web interface and get access to all of my notes, edit the existing ones, and create new notes.

Oh, and did I mention this is all free? Yeah.

Here’s the problem: it doesn’t handle to-do lists well. I am currently trying to implement David Allen‘s (not me, this guy) “Getting Things Done” methodology in my daily life. It’s a bit if a learning curve. The big deal with the GTD system is that you should always know everything that you have to do. You should, and believe it or not, you can, know every open loop that you have to deal with in your life.

This is done through writing everything down in a trusted system that is outside of your mind, freeing your mind to do the task you have at hand while not worrying if you should be spending that time doing something else. It is possible to have so much going on in your life that you can’t wrap your brain around it, have none of it on your mind right now, still get things done, and be at peace with yourself.

GTD does not spend a lot of energy telling people what technology they should use, only the system. So I have been on the lookout for a good list manager. I do like Microsoft Outlook for it’s ability to handle contexts. However, since I have transitioned to a Mac, I find that iCal does not support contexts. I am using Awesome Note on my iPhone, but I’d really like something that would work cross-platform the way that Evernote does. Sure, Evernote does to-do lists, but it does not do them well.

So here’s my question: What do you use for a list manager? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it or would change if you could?

Please leave me a comment. I would love to hear your feedback on this subject.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Jones Jr July 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I am a GoogleAps user (gmail on steroids). No one searches better than Google, so I see your evernote search function and raise you.

Google calendar is pretty amazing–there is some integration between gmail and calendar and tasks and contacts and…a lot of other stuff that I cannot explain all of, but because it’s all there in one place AND it’s “in the cloud” (cloud computing), I like it.

I tried evernote but never could get to like it.

On an unrelated note, why am I having such a hard time finding your podcast? Is it in iTunes?


David July 25, 2010 at 10:01 pm


Thanks for the comment. As for the podcast, search for The Pilot’s Flight PodLog in iTunes. Also, direct downloads are available at



Dave August 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm


For the Mac, there are two GTD apps. Things and OmniFocus. I personally use OmniFocus.


David August 17, 2010 at 2:29 am

I have actually been demoing OmniFocus for a few days now, and I really like it for its abilities as a “trusted system”. Frankly, I think it’s going to be my main action-list manager. One of my favorite features is the fact that I can seamlessly synchronize my databases between my computer and my iPhone. That’s huge.

Thanks for your input!


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