Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WotW: Stay On Top of Your To Dos with Any.Do

The human brain is a wonderful thing. It's capable of holding and processing an insane amount of information. But even the most incredible mind has its limits. And unfortunately, most of us cram our brains full of unnecessary stuff. I'm not talking about favorite recipes, book lists and who won the Oscars back to 1964. I'm talking about the constant buzz of to-dos that float around in our minds and drive us nearly crazy.

Some of us use so much of our brain capacity thinking about all the stuff we have to do that we don't have any room left over to do the items on our mental to do list. It takes training, but you can break yourself of this habit. I was able to do it. I used to stress about every little to-do item. Now I don't even worry about it. What's my secret? Writing it down in one trusted location.

I've shared some of my favorite trusted locations in the past, like Teux Deux, LinoIt, Google Calendar and Catch. But I have an organizer that may just outshine them all. It's my new favorite time-saving and organizing app called Any.Do.

The Any.Do app is a free download for both iOS and Android, as well as a Chrome extension. The premise of the app is like any other to-do app: to get you organized and provide a checklist. But the way Any.Do does it is smooth and fun.

On opening the app, you'll notice it's divided into four sections: Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming and Someday. And if you think about it, that's really how our brains work. Items can quickly be added into any section by pressing the + sign to the right of the section title. You can type the new task or speak it. Plus, Any.Do has predictive reasoning, so it can often guess what you're going to input before you finish. You can also easily drag and drop items between sections, helping you quickly organize and reshuffle your busy schedule.

When you complete a task, simply swipe across the item and it is crossed off. To archive completed tasks, simply give your device a shake and all crossed-off items disappear. It's a physically gratifying way to acknowledge a completion of tasks.

You can always go back and see your completed tasks too, which are broken down by the day on which you completed them. This gives you a nice record of your work, which is helpful for personal record keeping, as well as accountability at work.

Speaking of personal and work, Any.Do recognizes you have different areas of your life, so it allows you to create separate folders in which you can store to-do items. You can even change the view from timeline to folder view, if that's better for you.

OK, big deal. This is similar to other to-do apps. What's so special about this one? Besides how simple and clean the functions are, there are some neat extras that set Any.Do apart.

Click on any task and you are given five extra options for that task. You can up the priority level, put it in a specific folder, set an alert for a specific day and time, add a note or even share the note with a friend, helping you be accountable and keep others in the loop. Plus, it's quick and easy to do all this. Much faster than Outlook.

One of the greatest features of Any.Do is the daily Any.Do moment. You choose a time you want to have an Any.Do moment each day. For me, I set it at 9am, just after I arrive at work, have time to get settled and go through emails. Any.Do will popup a screen with an Any.Do moment. This shows me all the tasks I have planned for the day. Now, I have a chance to quickly review each task and decide what I want to do with each one.

I can confirm that I will do the task today, delay it for later, mark it already complete or delete it. When I select today, Any.Do prompts me to set a time for when I want to do it. I can even set an alarm for myself.

The nice thing about the Any.Do moment is it addresses one of the great needs of to-do apps: forcing you to review your tasks. Every day you have a chance to really look at what you need to do and find the best time that fits in your schedule.

Besides being a great app, the Google Chrome extension is invaluable. You can install it for free in the Chrome Web Store by searching for Any Do in the Extensions.

Once it's installed, the extension will appear in the top-right corner of your browser. You can click on it and bring up the familiar view of your to-do list with the same functionality as the app. Also, it will show you a notification number with the number of tasks you have today, which is a helpful reminder as you surf the web.

And if you're on your computer when an alert time comes around, the Any.Do extension will show a pop-up in the bottom-right corner of your screen reminding you to do it.

Any.Do is an incredibly easy app to learn how to use. It can fit into anybody's workflow and is flexible enough to address the different areas of your life that require you to stay organized. This is an app everyone should at least try. So free up some of those valuable brain cells clinging on to to-do items and write them down in a system that not only remembers them, but reminds you about them when you need them. You can't beat that.
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