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To Do Lists

I go through phases in my relationship to to do lists. I’m generally an organized person (at least on the surface), but I’ve notice that there are times when to do lists hold massive appeal and times when I can’t look at one. You’d think I’d know what triggers a stretch of the listies, but I don’t. I remember a time when I wasn’t very busy at work and it took a to do list to keep me focused in the face of not-much-to-do, and to help me understand that I really was working. (This was in my first months of work, before I had projects and before anyone on campus knew I existed. This seems like a distant dream from my current vantage point…) At other times I’ve been so busy that to do lists helped me remember what I’d promised people and what helped me managed the steps of multiple concurrent projects.

Right now I’m in a listing phase, so I went looking for an online to do list tool that would let me check in, add, and delete items from any of the four computers I use throughout the day. I tried several, and they all have good points. But here’s how they measured up for my purposes.

  • Ta-Da Lists: Nothing fancy, just to do lists and nothing else. I really like this one, and (for me) it’s runner up because the interface is so easy and it does just what I need. I also got my own URL when I signed up, which made me feel special. I could also share individual lists if I wanted.
  • Voo2do: If you need a project management tool, this is it. You can set deadlines, prioritize, take notes, set estimated times for each list item, categorize by project, publish tasks, add tasks by email, and probably a whole lot more. Frankly, this was too much for me. It meant that I had to do a lot more clicking when all I wanted was to make a list.
  • Bla-ha List: Very nice, but requires a pop-up window that can’t be opened in tabs. For my workflow, if it’s not open in my standard set of “I use them all the time” tabs, I’ll forget all about it and never use it. This would probably decrease the usefulness of the lists.
  • Backpack: My current favorite. It’s put out by the same people as Ta-Da Lists, so it’s really simple, but it also has space for note-taking. I can make separate “pages” for different categories of lists (right now I have “Work” “Personal” and “Copyright” to keep track of the main things I’ve got to do). Each page can have it’s own text, lists, and notes, and you can share pages individually with other people, or publish them to the web. If I want to pay, I could also add the capability to upload files and pictures, but I don’t feel like paying money. Even with the free version, though, I got my own URL.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wish there were a Google To Do list that would work with my Google Calendar. I actually don’t want Google to take on another project before it finishes a couple of the ones it’s already juggling, but this feature would sure be nice.

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