We all have thoughts, we all have things we need to do, and we all have a desire to get these things done, hopefully in the most efficient way possible. I was just like you, letting these things ramble around in my head.
I was a big believer in David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system when I came across it and I still implement bits and pieces of that today, but I found that I was getting way too bogged down in creating “next actions” for each task and whilst feeling like I was going to maximise productivity, I was wasting time and NOT getting things done!
During this process I came up with an idea for an app I could use on my phone that would sync with my desktop and have all of my tasks in it. After I defined what it would be, I spoke with a developer mate of mine and he was keen to help me make it happen.
I searched the web and app store for other similar things and came across Wunderlist! This was sometime in late 2012/early 2013 from memory. I started using Wunderlist heavily and we used it collaboratively to outline the features we would add to our own list application.
Life got in the way (mountain biking specifically!) and we never got around to building the app. Since then I’m sure Wunderlist read through our list as they’ve implemented most of the features we wanted!
Here are the top 10 reasons I still use Wunderlist today (three years later) and how it can help you!
1. Never miss an idea
I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, be driving and thinking, be at my current 9-5 job, be out for a bike ride, basically anywhere and I can have a moment of brilliance. When this happens, I can very quickly unlock my phone, click on the Wunderlist app in my Android dock, press the big + button for a new item, type in what I want, usually a keyword that will serve as a reminder, press Add and that’s it! It has added that item to my inbox.
If I have some more time, and am awake, I’ll probably go into the appropriate list and add it in there, but as long as it is captured in my inbox I can always sort it to the right place later.
Get your tasks and ideas out of your head and into a place/system you trust. Trust me, it frees you up for many more ideas! Everyone has moments when they say “what was that thing I was thinking about before?” Be smarter and lock it away in your list!
2. Different lists for everything
This is so important for busy people. If I want to focus on one particular project or business I am working on, I can go straight into that list and see all of the items relevant to that project. This saves me from being distracted and doing other things which do need to be done but may not be the most productive use of my time for the goals I am trying to achieve at that particular point in time. If I have something that I have to get done, but right next to it I have something totally unrelated or more fun, then I might be inclined to “Watch new bike video” instead of “Proofread Report”. Having different lists allows me to focus!
3. Shared lists – Best one is my shopping list with my wife!
Wow! What an awesome feature. This is the reason this was the one app that made the cull when I was looking for similar apps to my original idea. I use shared lists to allow my wife and I to keep track of a number of things. We have a shopping list which we both update for example. I can be at my current 9-5 and get notified that she’s added a bunch of things to the list and I’ll grab them on the way home.
We both actively use this and it means the simple things you normally forget until you get home are always on there. If I’m getting ready for work and I realise that toothpaste is getting low, I’ll add it to the list. If I’m taking the bins out and I realise the bags are getting low, a few taps on my phone and it’s on the list.
When one of us walks around the supermarket and adds things to our cart we can use the list to shop from and tick the items off as we get them. So effective! Occasionally I’ll buy chocolate and leave it on the list, that way she’ll buy it too!
4. Collaborate with partners/clients
The first shared list I made was with my developer on ways to make an app like Wunderlist but be better. We could throw down ideas and build up our list of desired features.
I’ve recently used this with my brother whilst developing TheRSVP.Co, to make sure that we have a list of tasks required for completing the product, marketing, launch etc. The app enables us to assign tasks to each user, comment to discuss aspects of a specific task and mark things off when they are done. We literally built this whole product via Wunderlist tasks/comments and about 3 hours of phone calls!
I imagine the same approach could be used with clients to keep them up to date on progress without the need for constant phone calls/harassment!
5. Organise ideas
Once you have all of your ideas in Wunderlist, you can drag and drop to move them to different lists. You can combine different lists into different folders. It is a very intuitive application and allows you to save time and focus on the tasks at hand.
I have an inbox where I put most things straight away, then lists for shopping, stuff to do at home, a few lists for specific businesses I have running or am working on, other shared lists for stuff we take when we travel, and stuff I take when I travel for work/consulting. I then have a folder called Business Ideas, which has over ten more lists for concepts that I am not working on but that I’ve had time to break down into more detail. One of those lists is a single list of ideas that has currently 28 ideas (a few words each) for businesses that I haven’t even had time to think about yet, just a fleeting idea!
6. References and Bucket List
I also keep a list of references and a bucket list. So many times in my life I’ve come across something that was really intriguing or something that I say “I must do that at some point”. I pop out my phone and add it. Sometimes I just save a link to a website, or a word or two and a screenshot. I honestly couldn’t tell you what is on these lists right now but when I do look at them I know I remember these things straight away!
That’s the beauty of these lists, it frees your mind from having to remember everything and you can focus on the task at hand which may be “Enjoy Life!”!
7. Starred Tasks and Reminders
Some days I am not entirely focussed on a few key things and I decide I’ll just crush my way through various items on various lists. To do this I’ll go through the different lists and I’ll click the Star next to each item I want to select. this adds these items to a “Starred” smart list and I can then work from that during the day.
Sometimes (like today), my wife stars the shopping items just so I don’t forget them! I currently work in the big smoke and we live in the middle of nowhere so if I don’t get things one my way home our local supermarket will be closed before I get there! This is where reminders come in. We can add reminders that give me a popup notification at a specific time/date. Another awesome feature. They now also can sync these to my Google calendar!
Under each task you can add subtasks. I find this most useful for keeping sublists. Generally true subtasks I add as a normal task, as it is something I have to do and want to tick off anyway. A simple example would be under my home list, I have a task for Movies. In the subtasks of that task I have a list of movies that people have told me I should watch. Whenever I am out and someone says “you have to watch this”, I’ll whip out my phone and add it to the list. I would definitely forget what they said otherwise! I should also start to add in the person’s name as I’ve watched some awesome movies on that list but can’t remember who told me about it to say thanks!
9. Add files
This one is awesome for adding screenshots or photos. If I see a design or something I like I can add a task and then add the screenshot or photo so I can remember. I can also add the hyperlink to the webpage etc. This never used to be in Wunderlist, so I’m glad they read my list of ways to make an app that is better!
10. Simple to use and a free version. And, it works/syncs on everything I use!
Finally, Wunderlist is so simple to use. It also has a free version so no need to pay up. At the end of the day, if something is so simple that you can easily integrate it into your life and see immediate massive benefits from using it then why wouldn’t you. It works on my Android phone, PC, Laptop, Workstation, MacBook, iPad, wife’s iPhone. It is a great example of a product done right!
Please share this with anyone who you think will find it useful using the buttons on the left of the page and also comment below to let me know a few of the ways you use Wunderlist to make your life better.
Thanks – Scott