Get Organized! Apps to Match Your Style
Before experimenting with any of the apps below, do a quick self-appraisal. Do you jot notes all day or allocate a specific time to get organized? Do you need to integrate work and family tasks? Is color coding a help or a distraction? Do you want to sync with your spouse, friends, kids? Do you want to mingle practical tasks with personal record-keeping or would you prefer to keep photos and journaling separate from your to-do list? Answering these questions will help you decide which of the apps in the following list are worth a test drive.
Customize your lists. Wunderlist is a streamlined, no-nonsense app that lets you set up your own lists in categories that make sense to you. It's perfect for minimalists and those who are easily distracted by features they don't really need. wunderlist.com
Prioritize tasks. Toodledo encourages you to assign a priority to everything on your list so you can easily see what needs to be done today. This app also encourages you to estimate the time a task will take. Then, when you find yourself with an unexpected gap in your schedule, you can generate a list of projects that will fit neatly into that slot. toodledo.com
Take advantage of location. Any.Do has a clean, uncluttered interface so you can quickly see what needs to be done on any given day. This app also interfaces with a GPS component so it will remind you to do an errand when you are in the vicinity of the right store. any.do
Manage from your desktop. Cozi offers mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices, but its strength is its family-oriented website where you can keep (and share) a calendar, develop menu plans, organize shopping lists and even record memorable family moments in a journal. cozi.com
Coordinate with others. Remember the Milk was one of the first successful organizing apps. Today it has a lively community of users and makes effortless connections with a large number of other programs. Because it syncs so well, this app is ideal for parents who want to communicate, coordinate and delegate with other family members and coworkers. rememberthemilk.com
Color code everything. Awesome Note is a one-stop app for people who would like to integrate their to-do lists and calendar with photos, maps, notes and even sketches. Folders are color-coordinated, making this an excellent choice for people who appreciate visual cues. bridworks.com
Harvest your thoughts. Scatterbrain appeals to parents who are constantly changing channels. The app includes an appointment calendar, to-do lists and a special section for "thoughts" — random and otherwise. By assigning colors, you can quickly see all of the items related to work, school, home, etc. scatterbrain.it
If testing and learning yet another app seems like just another unwanted task for your to-do list, you might want to take advantage of websites like mommytracked.com or organizedhome.com that offer printable organizers.
One last tip: Once you've made your lists, hold them loosely. Most days, the best things that happen — especially with young children — aren't on anyone's agenda. Happy families are invariably a little disorganized, so leave lots of room for creativity, spontaneity and improvisation. Definitely put that on your list!
Carolyn Jabs raised three computer-savvy kids, including one with special needs. She has been writing a column about growing up with technology for 10 years and is working on a book about constructive responses