8 To-Do List Apps To Help You Get Organized

For many of us, getting organized and staying organized is no easy task — sometimes I still scrawl a hasty reminder on the back of my hand. The best Organization method will look different for everyone: Some prefer the tried-and-true paper planner, others take a more digital approach. 

When it comes to to-do list apps, I look for ease of use, affordability, cross-platform compatibility, reminder alarms and flexibility. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

There are dozens of to-do list apps to help you get organized and maintain the habit. Check out some of my favorite task apps: 

Google Keep

Price: Free 
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC

google-keep

Google Keep


Screenshot by CNET

Google Keep is one of my favorite places to make lists and notes. The app lets you color-code notes and pin important notes for easy access. I also have a few notes where I’ve saved articles for later. I like that Google Keep populates the article headline as well as a key image so you’re not trying to parse through dozens of URLs. 

If you’re looking for a more structured checklist layout, open the app and tap the little box with a checkmark at the bottom of your screen. This will start a more traditional to-do list style note. When you’ve finished a task, tap the box next to the item and it’ll appear in a collapsable list of finished tasks. Tapping the reminder bell in the top right corner of the screen lets you set specific alarms. And if you have to set an alarm to remember to open the app and check your to-do list, I’m certainly not judging. Either way, you can get these notifications on your phone, PC or both. 

With a Gmail account, Google will sync your notes across platforms, so you can add and edit from anywhere. There are also options to share notes and add collaborators. 

Google Tasks

Price: Free 
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC

google-tasks

Google Tasks


Shelby Brown/CNET

Google Tasks is an easy-to-use, minimalist to-do list app. You can download the mobile app, add a Chrome browser extension, or use it directly through Gmail. When I’m working, Google Tasks is just a click away in my Gmail. 

You can add items to the main My Tasks lists, as well as create new lists and subtasks for greater detail. On a given work day, I like using Google Tasks through Gmail. It’s a clean, easy way to see and complete my plans for the day. 

The mobile app is a bit easier to use for everyday tasks like chores and appointments. Instead of opening a drop down menu to swap between multiple lists, the app keeps them all on one page. No matter if you use the app on PC or mobile, your entries sync across all your devices with your Gmail address. You can even add dates and times to your tasks, and Google will automatically add it to your calendar. 

Apple Notes 

Price: Free 
Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, Mac

apple-notes

Apple Notes


Screenshot by CNET

Apple’s Notes app, like Google Keep, is a handy place to keep notes, checklists, articles, photos and more. There’s a bit more flexibility with note construction compared to other apps. You can start typing notes or ideas, switch to your Apple Pencil (if you’re using Notes on iPad) and add checklists without altering the note’s original structure. You can also swap between light and dark mode, scan documents, add grids and lines, and more to make the app work best for you. 

To further customize, you can organize your notes into folders and lock private notes with individual passwords or your fingerprint. Your notes will sync across all your Apple devices that are logged in on the same account. 

Apple Reminders

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, Mac

apple-reminders

Apple Reminders


Shelby Brown/CNET

If you need an extra boost, Apple’s Reminders app is a helpful to-do list option. In Reminders, you can build and organize multiple to-do lists, as well as map out your schedule for the day, week, year or further out. Reminders on iPad works with the Apple Pencil Scribble for easy transitioning between other projects. 

You can adjust reminders to repeat daily, set priorities and add locations. Your device will notify you about scheduled tasks on your list. Tapping the notification brings you back to the Reminders app. You can choose to check off the task, turn off the alarm or snooze the task. 

Microsoft To Do 

Price: Free 
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC 

microsoft-to-do

Microsoft To Do


Shelby Brown/CNET

The Microsoft To Do app works similarly to Google Tasks and makes it easy to view your to-do list next to your email and calendar. If you’re using Outlook on PC, you can find To Do in the calendar pane. If you’re using the desktop app, you can open it in a separate pane to take advantage of more features. 

I start by filling in my tasks right away, so I don’t forget, and then double back to add deadlines, alerts, subtasks and other extra information. You can make multiple lists and any tasks you complete will populate, crossed out, under your main list. Anything you add to your To Do list syncs with your Outlook calendar, which saves you from clicking back and forth between windows. So far, there isn’t an option to add a specific time. Instead, you could add an alert time and date under Remind Me. 

ToDoist 

Price: Free, subscription plans available 
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC

screen-shot-2019-12-11-at-8-41-24-am.png

Todoist app


Todoist

ToDoist is a bit like digital workspace apps Notion and Asana, but more traditionally structured. When you build a task list, you can add a description, subtasks, extra comments, as well as set priority statuses, deadlines and alerts. If you’re starting from scratch or need some inspiration, ToDoist has a number of pre-made templates that you can import to your app for accounting, reviews, planning, tracking and more. 

Anything you put into ToDoist will sync across devices if you’re signed in on the same email address. The app is free, but you can upgrade to Pro ($3 a month) or Business ($5 a month) to accommodate more users and expand features.

Notion

Price: Free, subscription plans available
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC 

Screenshot of Notion interface, which shows a table that organizes class notes.

Notion app


notion.so

Notion gained a lot of attention at the height of the pandemic within TikTok communities. The free app gave users a fast way to create a digital workspace for taking notes, creating moodboards, journaling, organizing school and work, as well as making to-do lists. Notion offers personal-use accounts for free as well as various paid packages for teams and companies.   

Notion shines in its creative and aesthetic options. My task list board is set up to show “To Do,” “Doing” and “Done” columns side by side, which helps me stay on task, motivated and focused. 

If alarms are helpful to you, Notion’s actual reminder system may fall short for you. According to Notion Wizard, you can set a reminder on any page with a date module. The app can send the alert on the day of the event, two days before, or a week prior to the event. But Notion Wizard points out two limitations — there’s no way to set reminders at an alternate cadence, like being notified a month before. You also can’t pick and choose which devices receive the alerts. 

Notion is free to use, but you can subscribe to Personal Pro ($4 a month), Team ($8 a month) or Enterprise plans. 

PenBook

Price: Free, subscription plans available
Platforms: iOS and PC

penbook

Penbook app


Screenshot by CNET

PenBook offers another creative option for task management, note-taking and more. When you download the app, you can choose paper colors, add lines and grids, as well as add a cover and name for your digital notebook. After you get the basics set up, you can create a traditional checklist template by tapping the paper and gear icon in the top right corner (iPad). Choose the To Do category and select your preferred template. 

PenBook doesn’t have an alarm feature, so this is more a digital version of your traditional planner. You can write with your finger, but the app works best with an Apple Pencil. PenBook is free, but some features are locked without a Pro subscription ($15 annually) or the one-time lifetime purchase of $38. 

For more information, check out CNET’s tips for starting a bullet journal and organization ideas for small spaces in your home.  


Now playing:
Watch this:

Finder Shortcuts for Your Mac



1:39