Your iPhone and iPad come with a built-in Reminders app from Apple, which is great for basic tasks and checklists. However, sometimes life will throw complex projects your way that you need to keep track of, or you just need something a little more robust. Thankfully, there are a lot of third-party alternatives when it comes to task manager apps on the App Store, so you can definitely find something that works out for your needs.
Things 3 is my personal to-do and task manager app of choice for my iPhone 13 Pro, as well as my iPad Pro, and Macs. I've been using it for several years now, and I just love the overall simplicity of it, as well as providing some powerful features that you won't get with the basic Reminders app.
With Things 3, you get an intuitive interface that is incredibly easy to use. While it looks basic, it's also heavily gesture-based, so navigating is a breeze. It's also simple and gives you just the essentials, so you can actually focus on the tasks at hand.
Things has you put focus on your various Areas, like Work and Finance, and then you can break those down into Projects, which are big goals, and the tasks in them are how you reach them. Once you have your tasks in Things, you can put due dates, make them recurring, add deadlines, tags, and more. Tasks that have due dates get automatically sorted into the Today and Upcoming smart lists, so you can manage your schedule even better. Plus, Things can pull in your calendar events, so you get a general overview of what your day is going to look like.
You'll have to pay for each version of Things separately, but Cultured Code does have a free syncing service to keep your data intact on all platforms. If you're concerned about the price, consider that it's at least a one-time payment for each version, instead of having another subscription.
Things is a beautifully designed and intuitive task manager for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Another fantastic option is OmniFocus 3. I was personally using OmniFocus for several years before I ultimately decided it was a little too much for me, and I was satisfied with the simplicity of Things. However, if you need an incredibly feature-packed to-do app that follows David Allen's GTD methodology, then OmniFocus is the way to go. Plus, it is available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and the free cloud syncing service from OmniFocus keeps your data synchronized across your devices.
OmniFocus lets users create projects and tasks for literally every aspect of their life. It allows users to give certain tasks priority above others and focus on those first, and it now uses tags for better organization. Creating recurring tasks is easy in OmniFocus, and the Forecast view is excellent for seeing what your day or even week is going to look like. Since OmniFocus is a compelling GTD app, you can also add notes and attachments to tasks if needed. There's also the unique Review perspective, which takes you through all of your tasks and helps you keep everything organized.
Previously, OmniFocus was a premium paid app, however, it has recently switched over to the subscription-based model. So while it's free to download and try, you will need to subscribe to continue using it after the trial period. But keep in mind that OmniFocus has been around for over 10 years, and is one of the gold standards when it comes to a powerful and flexible to-do and task manager apps on the iPhone that follow the GTD method.
OmniFocus 3 is a powerful task manager that follows David Allen's GTD methodology and is packed with a ton of features.
Those who need a task manager with collaboration need to try Todoist, because it excels in that area.
Todoist gives you what you'd expect from a task manager app: projects, lists, prioritized tasks, due dates, and more. But it also stands out from others by allowing for sub-tasks, which are incredibly nice to have when a task has multiple steps involved. Those who work in a team can get everyone involved on Todoist, and then assign tasks to team members and get collaboration on projects. Organization can also be done kanban style in Todoist thanks to the use of boards, and there are integrations with other tools, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, and more.
One of my favorite things about using Todoist is tracking my progress and trends. You can visually see when you've been productive, and whether you're more or less productive than the previous week. Having this kind of data is very useful in case you feel like external factors affect you, such as mental health.
You can grab Todoist for free on the App Store, but to get the most out of it, you'll need Todoist Pro, which starts at $4 a month. It's well worth the cost if you plan to use it for team collaboration.
Todoist stands out from the rest by offering great features like sub-tasks and amazing team collaboration.
Okay, I know Fantastical is first and foremost a calendar app. However, it has seamless integration with the native Reminders app, so if you like to use Reminders but also wish you could manage your schedule at the same time, then Fantastical knocks out two birds with one stone. It's also one of my personal favorite apps and a must-have on every iPhone.
Fantastical can get your local Calendar data and present it in a much nicer interface that is a joy to look at. You can easily switch between a weekly or monthly view, with all of your appointments appearing in an agenda list underneath, including any tasks you have in Reminders with due dates. You can easily add new events and tasks through natural language input, and everything syncs up quickly. As I mentioned, Fantastical can simply fetch your local calendar data, but you can also add accounts for Google Calendar, Todoist, iCloud, Zoom, and more.
You'll find Fantastical for free on the App Store for your iPhone and iPad. However, you'll have to subscribe to Flexibits Premium (starting at $5 a month) for features like Openings & Proposals (schedule meetings based on availability and meeting polls), call organization for Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, and Microsoft Teams; extended 10-day weather forecast, and more. But the app is also perfectly functional if you don't subscribe — you just won't get all of the extra features.
Manage your calendar and Reminders in a single app.
So far all of the apps we've mentioned above involve pretty much having all of your to-dos and tasks in one place, with a lot of functionality and features that you may not even need. A newer to-do list that came out recently is Bento, which puts more emphasis on more meaningful work, rather than more work. The point of Bento is to "help you do less, but more meaningful work." It's not meant to be a replacement for another to-do app, but instead, it should complement it.
Bento features one of the prettiest user designs and interfaces that I've seen for a to-do list app. Since the name of the app is "bento," there are six themes to pick from, and they are all Japanese-themed and animated. The point of Bento is prioritization, and like a bento box, you are limited to three tasks per box, which would involve one small, one medium, and one large task. Bento allows you to have seven boxes total. Basically, you'll need to plan out what is most important. With seven boxes, you can plan out an entire week, but with three tasks per box, it emphasizes what's absolutely the most important each day.
Once you have your bento boxes and tasks, you'll want to pick three prioritized tasks for the three workflows that Bento uses: Eat That Frog, Climb The Summit, and Slow Burn. The point of these is to help you best order your day to be successful and still have energy left. If you really need an extra push, Bento has a One-Task Focus Mode that blocks out everything else and has a countdown timer so you can fully concentrate.
It's an interesting take on the to-do list, and definitely one that truly stands out from the rest in a saturated market. By doing less, you're actually doing more, and it has additional significance and meaning. If you value spending your time more wisely, then Bento is the app to help you achieve that.
Stop being overwhelmed with tasks by doing less with more meaning.
Organize your tasks and get things done
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Life can get very hectic for many of us, and keeping track of everything that we need to do on a daily basis can be difficult. All of these apps are great for helping you keep track of your to-dos and tasks, whether they're for work or home, and they all have their own unique strengths. So if you need a little help with staying on top of what you need to do, grab one of these apps to help you focus on being more productive.
Updated May 2022: This list has been reworked from the ground up with the best new apps.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.