Tuesday Tech Tip: The (almost) Perfection of Wunderlist

wunderlist logoI’ve tried more to-do list apps than I care to admit. It’s kind of disgusting. Besides the fact that I love new technology and apps (to the point of absurdity), the main reason is that I’ve always become dissatisfied about some aspect of whichever app I’m using. Not to mention, (as the rest of you procrastinating productivity nuts know all-too-well) that it’s always better to try out a new to-do app than to actually do something on the list. Heaven forbid.

In the past, I’ve touted the awesome robustness that is Remember The Milk. It remains the ultimate to-do app. I found that it was simply overkill for me and I didn’t like that they charged forty-some-odd dollars just to use it on my iPhone. I don’t mind the price tag, I’ve paid it in the past, but the pay-for-mobile just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway, today we’re talking about the super-simple, very-free alternative, Wunderlist. I follow a very loose version of GTD, and I find that Wunderlist adapts beautifully. It should also be said that what Wunderlist lacks in robust features and options, it makes up for in eye candy.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Any to-do that requires more than one step is a project (see GTD link above). In Wunderlist, I just add a new list, name it, and I’m on my merry way.
  • Getting Things Done is all about the Next Action. I use the “star” feature in Wunderlist to keep track of what’s next for each project.
  • For a weekly review, I update all of my projects and star the tasks I can take immediate action on.
  • During my work day, I just take a peek at Wunderlist online or on my mac, my iPad or iPhone (it’s free for all devices, ridiculous PC and Android users included. *friendly smirk*)
  • I immediately look at the “starred” tab and can see all Next Actions (And which list/project they belong to! Hallelujah.)
  • Then it’s just a matter of knocking out as many top priority to-dos as possible in the time I have.

Do you use a to-do list app, prefer pen and paper or just guess all day? How could Wunderlist simplify and organize your life?


20 thoughts on “Tuesday Tech Tip: The (almost) Perfection of Wunderlist

  1. I really appreciate your sharing these ideas. I started using Wunderlist near its launch, but then tried to manage my tasks in Evernote. I am an Evernote power user but task management in it has been difficult. I rediscovered Wunderlist and looking forward to getting organized.

    • Now that I think about it, I have a question. Do you use context lists (e.g., calls, @office, @desk, etc.)? Or, do you just keep all actions within a project, star them, and work from starred list regardless of their context?

        • I have been back and forth with them (i.e. as suggested in GTD). I recognize that I still use contexts like “work,” “freelance,” “personal,” and one for my professional organization.

          • That’s a great distinction (we’ll call it “category” vs. “context”). One thing I didn’t mention in the post is that I do indicate which category a list belongs to by a short tag at the beginning of the list name in Wunderlist. For example, I have a personal and a work “someday” list, and I call the personal one “Pers- Someday.”

          • Hi Jeff,

            I have the same need but putting a suffix on every list title bugs me for some reason. What I stumbled across yesterday, may work for you too.

            I put a series of asterisks before and after my main categories, for example,




            In each one of these lists I put non-project related tasks. Under each of these lists, I place project lists in alphabetical order.

    • Thanks for commenting, Aaron. I love Evernote but task management seems tough. Check out Wunderlist and let me know what you think. The founder of Todoist (another solid, free to-do app) dropped me a line about some cool stuff they’re doing so I’m going to take a look and report back.

      • Thanks for following up. I agree. Task management in Evernote is not easy. I have been setting up Wunderlist and it is a great tool. I have had a Todoist account which has set unused for years. It is a great tool, not as simple as Wunderlist, but has a few more features that may be worth a second look. I am hoping Wunderlist Pro has what I need so I can stick with it.

        • I’m curious! What are you using for a to-do list these days? I did check out Todoist, but in the end I came back to Wunderlist for the sheer simplicity – more of a personal preference than anything.

          • Hi Jeff,

            Sorry I missed this long ago.

            I used Trello for awhile. It is a terrific app, but I wanted to be able to work with files rather than download them before working with them. The offline features are great at present either and you can’t permanently delete boards–it just bugs me.

            I am using Evernote hoping its fairly recent reminders feature makes task management within it better.

            Looking closely at Todoist though. I didn’t use Wunderlist because you still can’t group lists (by work, personal etc).

            What are you doing task management wise these days?

          • Thanks for the update, Aaron! I’d love to hear how the new Evernote is working for you. Feel free to post or send me an email. I’m still rocking Wunderlist. With my tendency to overcomplicate, the forced simplicity is a life saver. Now I just need to cut back on how many lists I have…

  2. One cool thing about Evernote that not many people are aware of is that you can create a shortcut URL for any note and paste it in another app (like Wunderlist) for project support stuff, etc. When you click on that link in Wunderlist, it opens the note in Evernote. Pretty handy!

  3. A little known wunderlist feature is that it does support contexts/tags. All you need to do is put a hash mark in front of a word in your task like this: Buy bread #errands or Prepare sales presentation #work. Those hash words become links that when clicked show all tasks with that context. You can also use the search box and just search for the tag.

  4. The only thing I wish Wunderlist did that Evernote gives me is the ability to easily turn emails into actions. Wunderlist says you can by using me@wunderlist.com, but I have not been able to get that to work. Any suggestions?

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