One of the best ways to ensure that you get things done - especially if you're the forgetful or disorganised type - is to use a task manager. These allow you to set goals with particular dates and add sub-tasks to break things down to more manageable levels.
You might have tried Reminders on your iPhone or Google Tasks on Android but have probably found them a bit too basic and limiting. But the apps here go beyond and are considerably more powerful.
In team-based apps you can allocate duties out to particular individuals, and much more besides. And here are our top picks of some of the most popular task manager apps around, ranging from those aimed at individuals up to full suites for work productivity.
Let's get organised!
One of the best task managers for individuals is Todoist. The app offers a wide range of features and an interface that is clean and easy to use.
You can quickly add new tasks then set reminders, completion dates, add relevant files to the task, apply a label so you can find it in a hurry, plus there’s also the option to give each task a priority status so the most important ones appear first on your list.
A variety of folders allow you to group tasks together, especially good for larger projects that have many moving parts, and each day you’ll be presented with the jobs that are due. If you want to get a look ahead, the Next 7 Days view will show what the week has in store.
To help encourage productivity there’s also a daily target for the number of tasks completed (you can set this yourself) and successfully ticking them off grants you Karma points which are a fun way to mark your progress. There’s even a holiday mode that ensures you won’t lose your streaks when taking a break.
For businesses there’s also the Teams tier which gives you further abilities, including being able to allocate tasks to up to 50 other members and nominate them for roles, share files and comments in a Team inbox, plus progress metrics that help to keep you all on track.
Todoist integrates well with plenty of other productivity apps too, such as Google Calendar, Slack, Dropbox and many more, making it even more enticing.
There’s a free tier but you’ll want a Premium account for many of the features mentioned above. This costs £36/$36 per year and the Team tier will set you back £60/$60 per year per team member.
Todoist is available on Android, iOS, iPadOS, macOS and Windows.
monday.com is another powerful organisational tool that uses the Kandan layout style. The design differs slightly in that it looks more refined, with boards maintaining a professional air. This is reflected in the detailed analysis that’s available to teams, with not just the standard timeline and shared calendar but also a Workload page that displays how much each person has on their schedule and helps to avoid piling their virtual desk too high.
monday.com can also generate charts that show how the team is doing in terms of reaching their goals or for managers to bring in progress from various projects to get an overall picture.
Custom automations allow you to negate the need for boring manual management of data, while also ensuring that the task statuses are kept up to date. monday.com is compatible with over fifty tools and services, such as Gmail and Slack, to increase the capabilities of the platform, plus you can even develop your own apps if that’s your thing.
You can sign up for costs £35/$39 per year for the Basic tier, but if you want to access all the team-based features then you’ll need to look towards one of the several other packages on offer.
Microsoft To Do
Another popular choice for those who want to get a hold of their daily schedules is Microsoft’s To Do. This is the replacement for perennial favourite Wunderlist, which Microsoft purchased a while back and is now retiring.
The free To Do app has plenty of the features that appeared in Wunderlist, including setting up particular lists for projects, then adding new tasks which can also further steps within. All of these come with standard tools such as reminders ahead of time, completion dates, plus you can attach files or add comments.
Specific tasks can be setup to recur at specified intervals, so if you keep forgetting to leave the bins out on Sunday night To Do can help.
Lists can be shared with other To Do users and you’re able to allocate jobs to each other, plus you can also connect Outlook Tasks with To Do so that you keep all of your organisational efforts in one place.
To Do is a free app with plenty of power to plan your work and free-time activities. You can download it on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.
Any.do offers simple ways to create and organise tasks whether they are for yourself, your family or a work team. There are apps available for almost every popular device with Windows, macOS, iOS and Android as well as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Watch, Wear OS, plus Slack and WhatsApp integration.
Connecting to other apps and services is also much easier now thanks to Any.do recently introducing support for Zapier.
The interface is minimalistic and pleasing on the eye, breaking the information down into all the tasks you have for that day, tomorrow, and others that will be due soon.
Tapping on a task will then open up its page, on which you’ll be able to add tags, due dates, recurring events, reminders (including location based ones that alert you when you reach a specified area), notes, attachments, and there’s the option to share and delegate the task to a friend or colleague.
You can also connect your calendar so that your reminders and alerts appear there, making it much harder to accidentally miss that important meeting.
If you want to use Any.do to manage a project at work, then the Team tier makes that possible. With this you’ll have all the features listed above, but once you setup your team with their accounts you’ll also have the ease of sharing tasks in a space where you can see the roadmap of tasks ahead, who is responsible for completing each one, the sub-tasks that are outstanding or ticked off, plus an agenda on Google Calendar where the whole team can get an idea of where they are at in the project.
There’s a 14-day free trial for Teams, with the subscription price dependent on the number of members you want to include.
While most of the apps here use the classic list layout, Trello adopts the Kanban style which helps you visualise what you’ve done and still have left to do. In essence this works like a large board with cards on them, usually arranged into three columns: To Do, Doing, and Done.
The at-a-glance design is supposed to give you a birds-eye view of the project, while also imparting a sense of achievement when you see the completed tasks. Of course, you’re not locked to these names or number of columns, as everything can be set to fit with your own ideas and workflows.
Each column can be renamed, and any cards you place within it can be opened up and have checklists, notes, files, labels completion dates and reminders reminded added. Create a link (Trello does this for you) and you can invite friends or co-workers to share the board and collaborate on a project. If you’re unsure how to best set up the board, there are a wide selection of template available for free, broken down into specific categories depending on what type of activity you’re working on.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of things you can then move onto automating the board with custom trigger commands that can move cards when certain things on them are added or completed. There’s also integration with plenty of other apps to make things run smoothly.
The free tier allows you unlimited boards, cards and lists with the only limit being the 10MB per attachment. There are also 10 Team boards included, with 1 Power-Up (integrated app) per board. Trello even includes basic automation into the bargain. If you need more functions then Business Class will provide it for £97/$119.88 per year.
With the COVID-19 coronavirus having such a huge impact on office culture and leading to many people now working from home, Taskade is perfectly placed to keep projects on target due to it being purpose-built for dispersed and remote-working teams.
The approach incorporates many of the features you will find in the Teams versions of other apps on this list, with a shared workspace to create tasks and objectives, collaborate with discussion and comments, share files, and divide up what needs to be done by individuals.
A centralised calendar helps to remind everyone when waypoints are nearing, plus there’s a team roadmap so nothing can take you by surprise. To keep everyone in the loop there’s also a dedicated chat feature and video conferencing facility.
You can sign up to Taskade as a free account, making use of the various organisational tools for yourself, but this tier limits the size up file uploads and how much you can store online.
Those wanting to get the most out of what Taskade has to offer will instead want the Pro version which costs £67/$84 per year but at the moment the company is very generously offering a six-month free upgrade to the Pro tier as a way of helping businesses through the upheaveal caused by the pandemic. Well done Taskade!