How to Effectively Use Reminders and To-Dos

What are Reminders and To-Dos?

I believe reminders started out as a cover term for ticks that can remind us about doing something, where the ticks could also be other humans. To-Dos on the other hand are basically a checklist to just mark things off as we do them.

The difference here is → reminders are for time-sensitive things while to-dos are for making a list of items we need to do.

Productivity can Go Overboard - What do you do?

There can be many methods of doing productive work online using reminders and to-dos effectively - many frameworks and many usage ideas. However, going blindly behind those preachings is not a good idea as it only overwhelms a person in what is sustainable for them. As such, this is a disclaimer section telling you that you should explore techniques and tips, put them into practice, and then pick and choose those methods that actually work for you. Ideally speaking, a month is a good amount of time to confirm whether a technique sticks with you or not as that much of time usually covers a busy day as well as a comfortable day, both of which are important to judge the efficacy of a productivity techinque.

So, the golden path for someone trying to improve their reminders game, is → research fundamental techniques that look appealing and feel promising to you. Then list out a couple examples of things that you forget and things that you make (or would make) a post-it note for. Soft-check against those techniques based on what may work or what may not work. Take the top 3 techniques and implement those one by one. The last step is to reduce copmlications - apply your own twist to the technique you choose and then keep improving it!

The Etherios Way

A funny way to name something I do using Apple Reminders, but here it is →


There is just one list of reminders called “Master”. This list stores all time-bound actions whether it be something I want to do at a specific time or periodic ones like rent payments. Eevryhing that I want to be reminded about at a specific time goes into this list, irrespective of what it’s related to. At the end of the day, the philosophy behind reminders is - when you get a notification, take an action immediately (perform or reschedule). And that’s it! That’s all that I have for reminders!


Mostly everything apart from time-bound actions fits into to-do lists. I maintain 6 separate lists →

  • Activities → Things that I need to do in my personal life (change bottle filter, look at smartwatches, analyze my health data, etc.). These are things which I need to check off in the near (not long) future.
  • Work Activities → This list is like Activities but for my professional life; something that is not meant to carry details but just things to check off (review calendar for the next week, collect notes for the next manager meeting, etc.).
  • Groceries → Self explanatory!
  • Household → Like Groceries, but for household items (bulbs, cleaners, portable fans, mousepad, etc.).
  • Purchase Wishlist → A checklist of links for items I like online and want to buy at some point.
  • Hobby → Things I want to do for my hobbies such as try drawing a landscape on iPad, reduce size of a docker image I maintain, automate something in my home, etc.

The philosophy here is that when breaking down tasks into subtasks, it is easy to make that a checklist and complete them one by one. And such tasks generally don’t have a deadline per se. When I get some downtime, I turn to these lists to see what I can do and check off. It’s a tug of war between growing and shortening the lists.

Let’s Talk Applications

Generally, all applications nowadays can do more than enough. I use Apple Reminders app, but a complete list of apps I’ve tried (on the Android+Windows side as well), all of which work just fine for the Etherios Way are as follows →

  • Apple Reminders
  • Tick Tick
  • Google Tasks + Reminders (Reminders exist within the Calendar app and is only reminders not to-do lists, while Tasks is both and is a standalone app)
  • Microsoft To-Do

There are also probably a million other apps but I’d recommend sticking to the top 25 list only as they’re going to be supported for long and will get visual updates regularly (aesthetics are imprtant).

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.