The commodity in shortest supply for any of us is time. While life was dictated by the seasons for our ancestors, modern life means navigating near-constant demands on our time and attention. The human brain just isn’t wired to operate in that environment, at least not for most of us. The majority will need some kind of crutch to keep track of our daily schedule — and the device we’re most likely to have with us that’s capable of handling that task is our ever more powerful and connected smartphone.
The explosion in connected capability has unleashed a generation of new and powerful tools to help organize our day and find what we need. Trying to pick the best apps for managing the crush of tasks that crowd our days is difficult because we all don’t need the same type of help. Some of the newer apps include predictive modeling, and some people find that their phone predicting their needs is a little creepy. With that caveat, here are my picks for the apps with the best options for keeping you on track.
With any app there’s always a fine line between functionality and simplicity, and Any.do walks that line better than almost any GTD (Get Things Done) app on the market. The task list is easy and intuitive, and the display can be modified and sorted multiple ways to fit your personal tastes. The missed call feature is particularly attractive, letting you return a call immediately or schedule a callback, which is then automatically added to your to-do list; or have Any.do ignore it. Like most good organizing apps, Any.do has the option to share tasks with one or more people, making it ideal for controlling your legions of minions as your plot to rule the world moves inexhoribly forward.
If you’re the type who is driven by priorities as much as scheduling, then ToodleDo is worth a look. Not only can you create a hotlist of tasks based on priorities, but with the built-in scheduler you can take a block of time and ToodleDo will fill it with the highest priority tasks. ToddleDo also has the option to record task times, so if you have the type of job where you need to support hourly billing, ToodleDo is a good choice. Part scheduler and part project management tool, this is the one for engineers and builders.
If your definition of organization means keeping track of names, dates, and places, then Evernote is the app to check out. Not only can you capture voice, text, and photos, you can link them different ways and share them across all your devices. Layered on top of Evernote’s organizational capabilities is the ability to set reminders and tasks related to the information you’re gathering. The only niggle on Evernote is the storage on the free version is seriously anemic, and some of the history functions are disabled. If Evernote is for you, plan on spending the money for the premium version.
Because Google Now isn’t available on older versions of Android, it’s been a slow to catch on. Google Now is part organizer and part context-aware AI. If you’re a road warrior with a newer Android phone and large capacity battery, Google Now is an indispensable travel tool. Google Now knows where you are, knows your flight information, and will remind you when it’s time to leave — and show you the travel options available. If it’s mealtime, Google Now will show you nearby restaurants. When the markets are open, Google Now automatically shows me my portfolio performance, and shows me a list of my online orders that are currently in transit. The voice recognition has improved dramatically; and the only downside is, because it keeps the GPS on, it’s a bit of a power hog. Android users can’t mock the Apple faithful as Google Now was recently released for iOS.
Jorte Calendar is one of the more popular apps on Google Play with over 132,000 user reviews. Jorte Calendar would accurately be described as a productivity app with the addition of Jorte Cloud. If you’re comfortable with technology, and like the ability to customize everything, Jorte is your app. Jorte integrates with services like Google Voice and Google Maps. While Jorte is a solid performer when it comes to scheduling and organizing, the free service offerings are a bit anemic. Still, if you have the kind of job where you have to juggle dozens of moving parts and other vendors, like a wedding planner, Jorte will be worth the money.
Staying organized means more than a simple calendar app these days, it means finding the app that fits your lifestyle and conforms to your needs. The best apps are the ones that work best for the way you work and that’s why I separated these by career field.