HOW TO: Achieve Complete Perfection Through Apps

Every time I go to the app store, I find a new app dedicated that suggests reaching our goals and living the dream can be taught easily with to-do lists and technology. I tried some of the free ones to find out.
Publish date:
January 23, 2013
apps, organization, M

Personal flaws and I haven’t embraced each other so much as reached a sullen détente; I’ll let them run wild under appropriate social circumstances or anywhere on the Internet, and they hide when it is absolutely imperative I behave like a legitimate person.

However I might long to be a sleek paradigm of womanhood, the grim reality is I just mopped up Pinot Grigio with the Spring 2013 Neiman Marcus catalogue. While native inclination and traditional methodology have thus far proved to be totally useless, technology provides me hope that efficiency is just a free download away.

This week I reviewed six of the most popular free productivity tools in the App store: Everest, Any.Do, Cue, Evernote, Wunderlist, and Nag in order to provide xoJane readers with the keen insight needed to make an educated choice about which App is best for you.


From The Makers: “Everest helps you live your dreams and achieve personal goals. From traveling the world to getting in shape to learning Italian -- Everest is a place to capture all your dreams, big and small, and focus on a few. Break goals into small steps, build step streaks, learn from others, and beautifully capture your journey from dreaming to doing.”

First Impression: Aren’t we a snotty motherfucker?

Insight: I was skeptical about Everest because I’m skeptical of anything that involves even the slightest insinuation of mountains and/or hiking. However, upon closer examination I’ve found Everest to be rather inspiring, which is says something because I am proud to be inspired by very little in life.

If an iPad and a Dream Journal made sweet inanimate object love, Everest would be their progeny. Everest focuses on long-term aspirations, and even provides a vast array of sample dreams for those of us too unoriginal and/or lazy to dream a dream on their own.

I selected: "Do A Dreamstorm," because that sounds super ridiculous. Everest broke down my “journey’ into 4 basic steps: Identify all the things I want to have, Identify All The Things I want to be, Identify all the things I want to do, and start dreams to make them real.

Results: There’s nothing like writing down my hopes and dreams to remind me what a shallow and deeply uninspired person I truly am. My dreamstorm is a printout of Ashley Benson’s boobs with dollar signs scribbled over. Still, I rather enjoyed my masturbatory foray into new-age self improvement and will be using Everest in the future.


From The Makers: “Organize your life in a simple & elegant way. Any.DO is a free to-do app that helps you capture, organize & sync all the things you need to do and makes sure you get it done. You can even ask your friend for help!”

First Impression: I bet Anna Wintour uses this. 

Insight: I’m a big fan of Any.Do’s clean, modern layout; there’s no overwhelming barrage of color or detail to distract me from the task at hand. Tasks are organized into folders rather than lists, which I don’t love but can learn to live with. If you need positive reinforcement, you can go to the "Done" folder and review all the tasks you’ve accomplished thus far. This isn’t super exciting when the tasks you accomplish are "CVS" and "buy cheap mixers for brunch." but still gratifying.

One aspect of Any.Do (and several other applications) I decisively disapprove of is the option of sharing tasks with friends. My friends don’t give a flying fuck about the chores I complete in a timely manner and vice versa. Just because social media allows us to share every minute detail of our lives with the world doesn’t mean we should.

Results: Any.Do is now, hands down, my favorite to-do list app. Aside from the easy to ignore social networking aspect, it’s modern enough to be a pleasure to use and efficient enough to integrate into my day-to-day activities. The push notifications are hella irritating though.


From The Makers: “Cue turns your email, contacts and calendar into an intelligent snapshot of your day. All you need to create a Cue account is an email address. Then you can begin linking your Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Calendar, Facebook and all the other accounts that you depend on every day. Cue displays everything you need to stay one step ahead: phone numbers, addresses, contact details, confirmation numbers, files and more. Tap on a person and you’ll always see the most up-to-date contact info alongside your recent communications and the contact’s latest posts on Facebook and Twitter.”

First Impression: Perfection is within reach!

Insight: Cue and Everest are tied in first place in terms of sheer aesthetic value. While Everest satisfies a specific niche (DREAMS) Cue is more generalized. You can make Cue whatever you want Cue to be. I found the most useful part of Cue to be its iCal integration; instead of staring at the rather dull iCal app on my phone, I can open cue and see how my day falls in chronological order. Cue won’t help you organize your month, but it sure as hell will help you organize your day.

Results: Cue is the only app from this list that made it onto my homepage. Every morning I enjoy waking up to a neatly organized day, and for the first time in my life I am aware of the temperature before I dress. It’s less exciting than dressing however I like and tolerating the results, but much more comfortable. 


From The Makers: “Evernote helps millions worldwide remember anything and everything that happens in their lives. Use Evernote to take notes, save interesting web pages, create to-dos and shopping lists, attach images and PDFS, and so much more. Then, watch as it all synchronizes from your Mac to your smartphone, tablet and the Web, allowing you to find your memories at anytime from anywhere.”

First Impression: Clearly useful but distinctly not cute because lime green has never and will never be cute. 

Insight: Evernote’s greatest strength lies in the "clip" function, which allows you to effectively record any article or picture on the web into an account accessible by any device. Clipping is fantastically useful for writers or anyone whose workplace firewalls their favorite non-work related websites (like xoJane!).

Simply log on to your Evernote account and you can read wonderfully NSFW articles like I Love My A$$ or How Not To Be A Dick At The Marijuana Dispensary. Evernote synchronizes beautifully with Google chrome by means of an easy to install clip button that sits on your browser’s bar and will essentially save a snapshot of the site you’re at to your Evernote account. Evernote also boasts a "tag" feature, which allows you to browse saved articles based on key word; however, the tag feature is of limited use for free users who aren’t permitted to save a functioning database worth of articles.

Results: Evernote is fantastically helpful for anyone who needs to draw upon specific details at a moment’s notice. Whether you’re writing a blog post, baking brie, or liquefying a corpse in the bathtub, Evernote will remind you of the little details that make a big difference.


From The Makers: “Wunderlist 2 makes it even easier to manage and share your daily to-do lists with friends, family and colleagues. Available on iPhone, Mac, Web, Android and Windows, Wunderlist 2 is here to help you get things done, no matter how big or small the list may be. Whether you’re planning an overseas adventure, sharing a shopping list with a loved one, or simply keeping track of your personal to-dos. With a host of new features including Reminders, Recurring and Subtasks along with improved Notes, Sharing and Notifications Wunderlist 2 ensures that no detail will be missed. These details are then automatically synced across all your devices via the new and supercharged Cloud Sync.”

First Impression: Wunderlist is like a family of neatly attired German tourists watching you vomit outside your favorite bar with polite disdain. Wunderlist is stylish, Aryan, and vair, vair judgmental.

Insight: Wunderlist irritates me and I don’t know why.

Results: Back to the Audubon. 


From The Makers: “Nag's novel controls let you press a single button to set an alarm at the top of the hour, or at a set time away -- e.g., in 5 minutes time, or an hour from now. If you want to fine-tune the alarm time, then simply press the time buttons again to add more minutes to the elapsed time. When your alarm time comes, Nag will sound its alarm. If you don't stop the alarm, Nag will remind you every minute until you acknowledge the alarm.

With great hi-res graphics, sound effects and iOS local notifications (which means you don't need to stay in the app to get alerted), Nag really makes the most of your iPhone, time and time again. 
Nag is the perfect answer to the "just 5 more minutes" or "I'll leave in an hour" situations we all face -- and forget -- daily!”

First Impressions: Like your mother, only with a silence switch.

Insight: Mothers are effective mostly because they do not have a silence switch; thus Nag’s utility when applied to tasks you do not want to do requires a level of self-discipline that I do not posses. For me, Nag’s greatest use was as a timer. For example: I tend to begin cooking, smoke, and then forget about cooking. This results in some very terrible food that requires A LOT of additional smoking to consume.

Last night, I popped some cornbread in the oven, cracked open a bud light, and flipped on the new episode of "Workaholics." Sure enough, I totally forgot my baking project until Nag erupted and for once in my life my bread was not a little (lot) too crisp. Yay. I’m eating it now. 

Results: Nag is a good timer, but nothing will ever take the place of a petite Greek woman barking, “GET UP NOW OR YOU WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING.”