Technology/Review Wednesday

Today, I want to talk about to do lists. Most everyone keeps lists of various kinds and it’s important to find the best method for keeping those lists. I’ve been low-tech for years. I used to use a journal write the list in the journal and away I’d go. This worked well when I was teaching in person and seemed effective the first year or so that I was teaching online. And then Ben was old enough to make off with my lists and suddenly it didn’t seem like such a good idea as before.

I needed something smaller, more portable, and less attractive to a small guy. It also needed to be self-contained. I wouldn’t have to find a pen in order to be able to use it. I have hunted and looked and I’ve tried it all. Kathy Peel has something she calls a Daily Hit List. The form is available here. While the form kind of works, it doesn’t work super well for me because it involves paper and pen and that’s just not what I need.

I’ve tried Anxiety and that was kind of useful when combined with a written to do list. The problem there was that it doesn’t migrate to my handheld device and without the list there, it’s ultimately useless.

I’ve also tried a number of “To Do” apps for the Touch. My main objection to most of those was the fact that they did not sync with my laptop. If I can’t access to dos on my laptop then it’s just not working for me when I have to work.

I had tried Remember The Milk in the past but found it difficult to manage because it also didn’t migrate to my handheld and didn’t have a desktop application to allow me to check it without going to the website. However, recently I discovered that they had made some improvements to the product and it now has the features that I wanted before. So, my solution is Remember the Milk.

What I like about it is the fact that I can send it messages from just about anywhere and it will synchronize across multiple platforms to allow me access to my to dos from where ever I happen to be. It has a clean interface, allows me to put things on the list that happen periodically and makes sure those items appear when they’re needed. It has really simplified that part of my life and allows me to brain dump so I don’t have to remember all the minutia of my day. One of the drawbacks is that to fully utilize its functionality I have to pay for a premium account. I’m really not complaining about that. This is still not my ideal solution, but it works well enough.

My main objection to Remember the Milk is the fact that it simply refuses to sync the To Do list to my calendar To Do list on my laptop. It theoretically is supposed to be able to, but to date I have not been able to persuade it to actually do it. I’m certain it would do it with gCal, but I much prefer iCal so . . .

Ideally, I would have liked to use Evernote for this purpose because it would have centralized my stuff more thoroughly, but at this time Evernote does not allow for addition to formatted lists via the handheld platform. This element is crucial when I’m out or when I’m just not able to use my laptop. For example, when I’m feeding Katie, I can add to my lists because the handheld is *right there* and can be used onehanded whereas the laptop basically requires two handed operation. Thus, until Evernote adds that level of functionality, I will be using two programs to accomplish what I need from them.

My To Do list at this point draws from Kathy Peel in that I divide my lists into categories, which is helpful if I’m in a particular location and need to work on To Dos that are location specific. RTM also allows me to have all the items appear on one list for the day which is helpful when I’m simply trying to work my way through my list.

Overall, if you haven’t tried Remember the Milk, or you tried it but weren’t impressed, I’d say give it another try. It works particularly well for someone who works online and has an extremely active day.

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