Why I Remember the Milk

apps Aug 28, 2017

If you’re looking for a good todo/task/productivity app I’m sure you’ve already realized that you have plenty of options. Creating a todo app is coding 101 for any aspiring app developer (along with a crappy weather app). You can search your app store of choice and pull up well over 100 different apps that want to help you be more organized/productive.

I’ve tried in excess of 30 different apps over the past 10 years. I’ve tried plaintext files (didn’t work - no simple way to sync), I’ve tried GTD apps (too rigid), I’ve tried fancy project-focused apps (too project manager-y), and I eventually found and stuck with Remember the Milk (RTM). At the bottom of this post I’ll include a list of apps I have tried over the years, but I guarantee you the list is incomplete. I will include the caveat that choosing a todo app is like choosing an invisible friend for your religion (or lack of) – it’s solely up to what feels right for you. What works for me almost certainly will not work for you unless your brain is equally as messed up.

RTM is by no means perfect. They offer a free plan which is only useful if you have a single device, and you don’t want anything to sync via the cloud – i.e. no one these days. Their paid level plan is quite reasonable at $39.99 per year.

So why RTM?

(1) Background push notifications. Hang on a second – tons of apps do push notifications?! Indeed, but I’ve never found another app that handles them like this. So what’s the big deal?

tl;dr - you can add a new task on the desktop (on the website or in the Gmail sidebar (see #2)), and then have it seamlessly pushed and alerted on without even opening the app on your phone.

Here’s what that looks like in real life: I’m answering emails within Gmail, a meeting gets scheduled for 2pm today, I add the task to RTM via the Gmail sidebar, and then without even taking my phone out of my pocket I’ll get a push notification at 1:45pm (my preference) that the meeting is about to start. If you look at your phone you’ll also see the app badge indicating you have an task even though you haven’t opened the app to sync it. In fact, if you open the app you’ll briefly see that the task wasn’t even locally there prior to the sync that began when you opened the app.

(2) The Gmail sidebar Chrome Extension. I live in Chrome these days (sorry Firefox), so while the extension only supports a single platform this doesn’t bug me. Not only do I live in Chrome, but I live in Gmail (personal and work) so having quick access to view and add new tasks while I’m dealing with emails is hugely beneficial. I have not found another app that offers anything similar directly within Gmail (which is mind-boggling).

If you know of another app that provides similar functionality that cover the two points outlined above please let me know in the comments. In case it’s of interest – my 2nd pick is solidly Todoist. If they would fix their broken push notifications I’d consider the app again. While it doesn’t have a direct Gmail sidebar like RTM, the Chrome extension for Todoist is pretty great.

p.s. This is not sponsored post. This was written solely because I’m a long time fan of RTM, I’m curious to hear about new todo apps I may not know about, and this was an excuse to try out this fancy new Hugo-powered site.

Apps I’ve tried:

  • Remember the Milk (duh)
  • Todoist
  • Google tasks
  • Evernote
  • Omnifocus v1 and v2
  • Todo (by Appigo)
  • Wunderlist
  • Do!
  • Any.do
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • 2do
  • Clear
  • Trello
  • Workflowy
  • Toodledo
  • TickTick
  • Asana
  • AwesomeNotes v1 and v2
  • Simplenote
  • Handle
  • Things
  • Due
  • Finish
  • Informant
  • Basecamp
  • Bear
  • Gneo
  • text file (just a .txt with tasks)


I find data leaks, and then write about them here.