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The ToDo List That Gets Things Done

The ToDo List That Gets Things Done

I check off an item, added two. I check off another one, added three more. Before I knew it, my todo list is one messy pile!

How many of you have experienced this too?

If you haven’t, I am extremely jealous… that you probably never kept a todo list. =)

A History of Failed ToDo lists

Before technology came into play, I was already a sucker for organizing my calendar and tasks, and started off with the filofax. Yup, most of you who are reading this will probably not have a clue what a filofax is. It’s basically simply a personal organizer and a basic self management tool.

I later on went to digital personal organizers, from those Palm products, to HP then Blackberry.

The Fun World of ToDo Apps

Finally, we get to the state of today’s todo lists. Back in 2006, Gina Trapani, founder of Lifehacker, wrote: “There are approximately 17 million software applications and web sites out there built to manage your to do list.

Here’s a snippet of what you will find on the App Store.

Personally, I have gone through tons of TODO lists, and other productivity tools at that.

Here’s some that I used (at least for some time) but eventually discarded to try something else. Check ‘em out and see if they will meet your needs.

Text Editor

To keep it simple, you can just use any basic text editor (Notepad, TextEdit, etc). The trick is to use codes that make it easy to search for open items, since it won’t automatically do it for you unlike apps.

Personally, I used these:

   Open Tasks: [ ]

   Closed Tasks: [X]

This worked for me for some time. However, when the items started piling up, it became hard for me to organize my tasks especially since it does not have any reminder and prioritization function.


I loved using Any.Do for a long time. It had that sleek UI, and that swiping to close the task felt “cool.” Yes, I’m a geek but, in my defense, they were probably one of the first few to implement this.

I cannot recall all the other reasons I moved away from them now but the major reasons were these:

   There was something wonky about the recurring items. I’m sure they’ve fixed this by now, but there was just no going back by then.

   They developed another app, Cal, to integrate my calendar with these tasks. I did not want another calendar app. If they had integrated it into Google Calendar back then, I would have stayed on.


After Any.Do, I switched to Swipes. They had a similarly sleek UI as Any.Do and had no problems with recurring tasks. I don’t remember them integrating with Google Calendar, but they did something that I loved. They integrated with Evernote, one of my favourite productivity apps.

Unfortunately, they decided to concentrate their efforts on developing their Enterprise version and I just felt that the personal version was being ignored so I decided to move away from it.

Some Notable Mentions


This was one of the best apps that I have used. Unfortunately, it was discontinued after it was bought by Yahoo!


Yes, I experimented with using Evernote as a ToDo list. Although it worked for awhile, I decided to discontinue this workflow. I am still a huge fan of Evernote, but mixing my web clips and notes with my tasks was simply too messy.   

As you can see, I have been a nut for productivity tools for quite some time now. In hindsight, this was probably (Excuse the StrengthsFinder references here) my #Maximizer and #Arranger in action, as I was always looking for that perfect configuration.

Unfortunately, it bordered on being a basement behaviour as I wasted a lot of time trying to be productive. Luckily, it looks like I have found the one for me.


A few months ago, a colleague suggested Nozbe and I have been hooked since. In fact, I am now testing it with my team and planning on getting the PRO version soon.

Why Nozbe?

Nozbe has all the basic features of other ToDo apps. However, its beauty lies in the integrations it has with other productivity tools. Beautiful for me because I happen to be an avid user of these tools too.

Cloud storage platforms

After losing some major files from a busted Hard Drive a few years ago, I have decided to sync all my important (work and personal) files to a cloud service. I am currently using Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box and iCloud.

And, guess what? Nozbe integrates with four out of five of these services.Can you guess which one is out? 🙂

These integrations make my experience smoother as I am able to go from my task to the file(s) I need to work on it with one click.


Yes, I have mentioned Evernote over and over again but, what can I do, I simply love it and it is a must-have integration for me. I just love how I can easily make notes as well as take web clips with it.

If you have not tried it, I encourage you to sign-up for the Evernote Basic first. It’s free after all.

Similar to the cloud storage platforms, this integration makes it easy for me to refer to my Evernote notes which help me complete a particular task.

Google Calendar

I mentioned this earlier as I am a heavy calendar user. I make sure I keep all my meetings and appointments on my Google Calendar.

Yes, that’s because I really have a poor memory.

This integration now enables me see all my Nozbe tasks on my calendar. That way, I can quickly see where I might have a conflict with appointments as well as see open slots where I might be able to squeeze in other tasks. Yes, other ToDo lists (Wunderlist) had something similar this but since their tasks did not have durations, it was not as precise as the Nozbe items.

Tips and Podcasts

This is not a feature but one thing I really liked about Nozbe were the constant emails with tips and podcasts on how to make the best use of it, and especially on implementing the GTD framework. I watched people’s best practices and adopted those that I felt were applicable to me.

Getting Things Done

There is no silver bullet for getting things done.

I simply wanted to show everyone all the tools that I had to go through to finally find one that really supported my workflow.

Yes, supported, because in the end the tools can only support you, YOU still have to do the work.

Ryan Salvanera is the co-founder and chief tech guy of Wissen Solomon, a consulting firm that aims to create abundance through the empowerment and growth of MSMEs. Ryan is also a personal coach at Coach Rye and specializes in coaching high-performing leaders and entrepreneurs.

Ryan Salvanera

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