For those who don't know me: I'm a chaotic person. My mind is usually all over the place, I've got dozens of projects running on a slow day, and always have new ideas that may or may not turn out to be productive. I'm the kind of person who turns on the stove, then goes downstairs to quickly put in the laundry and ends up watering the garden before remembering that charred dinner. When I make promises of any kind, I usually add "but remind me of this tomorrow so I don't forget". Because I forget EVERYTHING.
Enter Wunderlist: a to-app that syncs between my devices, lets me share tasks with other people, and gives me reminders when I need them. I can make a quick note in the Wunderlist app on my phone when I’m on the go, and as soon as I get home it’s in the Wunderlist app on my computer. Or I’ll write a grocery list from the kitchen, and 20 minutes later I can see DIY-man checking items off that list while he’s at the store.
Before we go any further - I’m not getting paid for writing this. No affiliate link, no sponsored post; I just love Wunderlist so much I think more people should know it exists and how it can be used in surprising ways. After that, it’s up to you to decide if you want to use it.
I use Wunderlist for so many things though…. let me talk you through it.
1. Tasks & To-Do’s in Wunderlist
Wunderlist is a to do list, and is good at doing what it’s designed for - keeping track of everything you have to do. It is simple to use, and easy to organise; you can keep your tasks in folders if you want, and make subtasks and notes for every task.
I keep separate folders for my own stuff, business, homestead projects, building projects, things I share with my husband and occasionally I have an added folder for special things (like for our wedding, I shared a folder with my master of ceremony and bridesmaid).
My Wunderlist account automatically syncs with my calendar; if I really have to work on an assignment on a certain day, I make sure it’s in my digital agenda so I free up some time to do it.
When I assign a due date for a task, I can also set a reminder (and if I want, put that reminder in my calendar); if needed, I can also make it a recurring task, so I'll be reminded of it every day, week, month or after any customisable length of time.
2. Mind Dump & Quick Notes in Wunderlist
I use Wunderlist instead of the notes app on my phone. Most often it’s to write down whatever I’m thinking of at that moment; things I really have to do later, an idea for my blog, the title of a movie or book somebody’s recommending me, or just something that’s on my mind right before I go to sleep.
I have learned that going to sleep with a lot on my mind makes me sleep lighter - sometimes I’d even wake up with a start in the middle of the night, after dreaming that I forgot to do something or did it wrong. The solution to this (for me) is to sit down right before sleepy time, and write down everything and anything that’s on my mind; from things I’m planning to do tomorrow, from seedlings to plant to friends I should call, maybe a birthday or (again) an idea I could explore for my blog. It helps me fall asleep faster, and sleep better. As they’re all in my Wunderlist, my thoughts will still be there in the morning!
I also use Wunderlist for quick notes. That way, whatever I wrote down on my phone will be in my to-do list; all I have to do later is to assign it a category (so it moves from my inbox into a folder), date and maybe set a reminder or tag someone else to work on it with me.
Sometimes I use my phone to take a picture or screenshot of something - something I need to buy, remember, repair, tell a friend - and I send it straight to Wunderlist (I can do that sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ). When I'm at my computer later that day, I know what to do.
3. Recipes and cooking or baking in Wunderlist
I use Wunderlist often for cooking and baking.
It allows me to put the ingredients in as subtasks, and the actual recipe as notes; when I’m following the recipe on my iPad, I’ll check off the ingredients one by one, so I’m sure I don’t forget anything. I tend to forget things… I’ve baked cakes without butter more often than I’d like to admit. Or even forgotten more important ingredients, like eggs or honey / sugar. But not when I’m using Wunderlist as I bake.
4. Gardening notes in Wunderlist
Every year, I make a list of all the vegetables and herbs I’d like to grow that year. I put the list into Wunderlist, and when time comes to order, I can check everything off one by one - it comes in especially handy when I have to order from different seed companies. That way I’m sure I don’t forget anything!
As every vegetable or herb is a “task” in my gardening folder, I keep all necessary information about it in the notes: how many seeds did I get, how many did I sow when, how many did I transplant when, how much did I harvest when,… As I usually bring my phone with me to the garden, it’s easy to write it down. I’ve been planning to transferring the info to a spreadsheet some day… today is not that day though.
5. Using Wunderlist to manage my pets and farm animals
I keep track of several animal-related activities in Wunderlist.
For instance, farm dog Jinx used to need regular injections; they would be recurring tasks in Wunderlist, so I’d get a reminder when the next one was due. I keep track of eggs in the incubator (so I don’t forget to candle and put the eggs on lockdown 3 days before hatching), of when I need to order new feed or hay, of when to buy an anti-parasite collar for our animals (and many of our neighbours’ critters as well).
6. E-mails that require action
Wunderlist makes it really easy to turn e-mails into actions. When I get an e-mail that requires some more research or actions, I just forward it to email@example.com - and there it is in my Wunderlist inbox. I can assign it subtasks, a deadline, reminders, a collaborator,… and make sure everything in that e-mail gets done.
It’s the same way I pay my invoices: as soon as I get an e-mail with an invoice attached, I send it directly to Wunderlist (Wunderlist keeps it as attachment), assign a pay-by-date, and check it off as soon as I’ve paid it.
7. Grocery, shopping & wishing lists in Wunderlist
We use Wunderlist daily for groceries; I usually make a list from home, and whomever goes to the shop, checks the items off the list. And when all shopping is done, the whole list gets striped off…
I also use it for shopping & wish lists. For instance, I have a list of “what to buy when in Belgium”, “what to buy my godsons for their birthday / Christmas / special occasions”, lists of books I’m going to buy some day,… It saves me from panicking and not knowing what to buy a week before due date.
8. Taking & Keeping Notes in Wunderlist
I love learning new things - I can’t count the number of courses, degrees, webinars, seminars, classes and other learning activities I’ve participated in. I’m also a personal assistant, which means I often have to take notes during a meeting.
Sometimes I’ll buy a real paper notebook for those (like for the weekly Spanish class we took before moving to Spain), sometimes it needs a text editor (like a meeting with the local community). In the latter case, I like to send a copy of the document to Wunderlist; that way I can make sure I look them over soon after. After a meeting with somebody I work with regularly, I can easily turn some of the talking points into “tasks” in a shared task list; I can also assign the tasks (some I’ll have to do, maybe the client or a team mate has to do some). I will make sure the deadline is clear, and everybody gets a reminder when they need to get it as well.
Wunderlist is also my number one place to keep information like directions, phone number, things I shouldn't forget (a friend's new girlfriend's name, for instance).
9. Sharing and delegating in Wunderlist
One of the biggest advantages Wunderlist has, is the ability to share tasks and information with others. Sharing a grocery list with my husband is just the beginning - I can send clients an invoice and then assign it to them with a pay-by date (if we have a shared folder on Wunderlist); I can ask a team mate for more information on a project we've got a shared Wunderlist folder for (Wunderlist has a built-in messaging system).
10. Finding the information
Wunderlist has a great search option which means that if I search for "Jack" I will get the name of Jack's newborn granddaughter, the directions to Jack's off-grid cabin (turn right after the really big almond tree, that kind of thing), Jack's last invoice, and the fact that we need to call Jack about pruning the trees at Jane's house. For instance.
Wunderlist also works with hashtags; if I click the hashtag #recipe for instance, I'll get all recipes - whether they're nicely waiting for me in my recipe folder, are still in my inbox, or I may have put in the grocery list as I'm preparing to bake that cake but still need to buy the ingredients.
11. Connecting Wunderlist with other apps
Wunderlist is integrated with several other apps - it’s not a feature I use as much, but it’s good to know if you are using any of them:
- You can easily upload documents from Dropbox to Wunderlist
- There’s an add-in for Outlook that allows you to turn your e-mails into to-do’s, and share your lists directly from your inbox
- Wunderlist’s Calendar feed can put your to-do’s with due dates in your calendar (iCal, Google, Calendar, Outlook - and most others)
- Taskclone lets you send Evernote checklist items directly into Wunderlist as tasks
- Safari, Firefox and Chrome have a few nice extensions that help you add pages to Wunderlist, or even have your Wunderlist in the "New Tab" tab (Chrome).
- Other integrations include 1password, Google Now, HipChat, Slack and Zapier.
Learn more about using Wunderlist integrations here!
How I use Wunderlist
After hearing all Wunderlist can do, you might feel slightly overwhelmed - I would! How on earth can you manage hundreds of entries (because if you use it for EVERYTHING like I do, you will have a lot of data very soon)?
For me, it's simple; once a week I sit down with a cup of tea (and DIY-man within shouting distance, just in case there's things he needs to do on there) and I go through all the tasks for that week. I look at what's attainable to do this week, and assign it dates, reminders, maybe assign tasks to other people or add an update if possible. Everything else gets moved to next Monday.
I'm not saying that's how everyone should work, but that's how I do it.
If you're using Wunderlist as well though, I'd love to hear how it works for you!
If you're looking for a way to manage your tasks and time wisely, Wunderlist could be the solution you've been looking for. It surely has some really enthusiastic users (I may have convinced a few of those to start using it). Want to know more? Check out the Wunderlist Website!
Update: I got word that now Microsoft bought Wunderlist (a few years ago), they will be retiring it and replacing it with a new app called Microsoft ToDo. Thankfully, users get a voice in deciding what features would be important to keep / add to the new app... Click here to vote!