Remember the Milk: Still the Best To-Do/Task Management Software

RememberTheMilkLogo

I am no longer obsessed with task management tools like I was after I first read Getting Things Done, but I still spend more time playing with software than I ought to. I have reviewed ProducteevNozbe, and Teux Deux, all of which have good qualities, but didn’t stick. I tried the very popular Wunderlist, and discarded it as unsuitable without bothering to write a review. I even used a paper work plan. But I have never reviewed Remember the Milk, which has been my task manager of choice for years.

Unlike some of the other task managers, Remember the Milk has all the features you might need, and while it is dead simple to use, it is also as powerful as you might want it to be. There are RTM apps for everything, and it syncs up with most other things.

What I Like About Remember the Milk

rtm tags Remember the Milk: Still the Best To Do/Task Management Software

Lists and/or tags. First off, you’ve got to be able to organize your tasks. Most task managers allow you to creates lists so you can organize your tasks GTD-style, or create a list for each active task, or whatever. I like RTM because it has both. So do most of the other task managers I mentioned above (Teux Deux being the exception).

I use lists for my GTD categories (do now, waiting, later), and tags for contexts and client identifiers, but you can do it however you like. Or not at all, if you just want one big list.

It also allows you to set priority levels, which I generally use to decide what I ought to be working on any particular day (my “most important tasks,” or MITs”).

Of course, lists and tags and priorities are useless if you can’t organize them. RTM makes it easy to create a smart tab for, say, all your tasks with a priority of 1 or 2 that are due in the next 10 days or have no due date at all. Or all your priority tasks regardless of the list they are on. Or you can just go with the default Today/Tomorrow/Overdue tabs.

Due dates, optional. Some things have due dates, and some don’t. I like to put just about everything into my lists, whether it’s cleaning the basement (sometime in the next decade), clearing my inbox (tomorrow), or writing a novel (maybe never).

(We’re talking about task managers, not practice management software, but here’s why there is a difference. Clio doesn’t get optional due dates — or recurring tasks, for that matter. It’s like the anti-GTD task management system, where every task must have a due date.)

Recurring tasks. I have 67 recurring tasks for things like “Check in with [client]” monthly and “Order 1099 forms” every January. Some are a matter of convenience. I just like being reminded to water my office plants every Monday or get something nice for my wife every month. Others, like “Trust accounting” every month, keep me in compliance with the ethics rules.

Recurring tasks seems to be the last feature implemented in any task manager, but it is a dealbreaker for me. It is well-implemented in RTM; you can do daily, weekly, and monthly, of course, or you can do thinks like the second Monday of each month. The only thing it can’t do is the last day of each month; you have to create 12 separate tasks. This is an annoying, but fairly minor gripe.

Great UI. The RTM user interface isn’t as pretty as Wunderlist, but it’s better than most, and highly functional. I especially like the extensive keyboard shortcuts, which I prefer to mousing around. And the Smart Add feature lets you add tasks using natural language, like “Take out th trash every Friday.”

This carries over to the excellent apps, which are a pleasure to use, and all very well-tailored to their respected platforms. For example, the Android app includes great homescreen widgets, while the iPad app was one of the first to use the great “sliding panels” interface.

What I Don’t Love About Remember the Milk

Not much, honestly.

The only real downside is that RTM is basically a finished product. You must take it as it is, because new features are few and far between. Development is focused on keeping refining the software and apps and keeping everything up to date. Since I happen to love RTM as-is, this is not much of a problem.

Summary

Remember the Milk

Reviewed by Sam Glover on .

Summary: Remember the Milk has all the features you might need, and while it is dead simple to use, it is also as powerful as you might want it to be.

Score: 5 (out of 5)

, , , , ,

  • Stephen

    Thanks for the update on this program Sam. Did you ever use Outlook or Google Calendar to track your tasks? I am interested in RTM but a little hesitant to add another program to my list unless it is vastly superior. Thanks.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      It is vastly superior to both Outlook and Google, but I wouldn’t switch if you are happy with what you are using now.

  • http://www.gregkarungo.com/ Greg

    Well, I am using cube, and I must say that I am mighty pleased with it.
    Greg

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Do you have a link? Cube is one of the few I haven’t tried (or heard of), and I can’t find it on Google.

  • diane

    Try Nirvana it is just about to come out of beta and is a great cross platform GTD solution.
    https://app.nirvanahq.com/

    Is a web app has a native iphone app and is in beta on an Android app.

    I have tried all that you have and more and I like this best.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I’ve tried Nirvana, but it didn’t work for me. Unlike RTM, it is still in active development, which means it is missing features I consider essential. It is also GTD-specific, which is too limiting for my needs.

      • http://lawyerist.com/author/joshcamson/ Josh Camson

        I agree about programs that are too rigid. One thing on my wish list for a task manager is reusable lists. Or a way to set it so that when I open a new list, it has certain tasks preloaded. Then I could have checklists for things built right into the software, instead of keeping them separate.

  • http://Siliconhillslawyer.com Jose A

    Completely agree. RTM keeps this junior associate sane.

  • Alan

    I haven’t tried RTM but I really like Todoist. They also have apps for iphone/ipad that are nice.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I tried Todoist quite a awhile ago, but don’t remember much about it. Looks pretty good, though.

  • Vic Massaglia

    Sam & Company,

    I used to use check lists (lost them), Outlook tasks (too linear – hard to prioritize and couldn’t see all of the times) and finally, the Covey planner (great at first, but too much work rewriting and rewriting and rewriting tasks and goals and priorities).

    I’m on my on my fourth year with RTM and find it the best tool to keep me organized and on task. It’s one place I can put both personal and professional projects and tasks into and can find things. I also sync it with my Google calendar, send tasks via email or text, and store lots of thoughts and ideas on it.

    Hands down, the best tool out there to help me keep my stuff together, tasks done on time, and to help be organized. Thanks for this post.

    V

  • Steve

    Great post. Thanks.

  • Jeremy

    Sam (or anyone),

    Do you use the free or the “pro” level membership? The additional cost isn’t much just wondering if anyone can say it is worth the expense or not.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I pay for it. I’m not sure whether I use any of the premium features, but I believe in paying for any software I use so much.

    • Paul McGuire

      Well the premium lets you use the mobile app and enable synchronization with your other services. The free version is limited to the web version of the task manager.

      • http://lawyerist.com/author/joshcamson/ Josh Camson

        You can use the mobile app with the free version. You can only sync it to the web-based platform once a day though.

  • http://www.brasstacksweb.co.uk Steve

    ” Remember the Milk has all the features you might need”

    Except sub-tasks.
    And a recycle bin.

    Whilst I love RTM there has been virtually zero development of the desktop app in 7 years, despite the team asking for suggestions. There are also some functionality issues that don’t get addressed, such as tasks with a particular time assigned to them appearing below untimed tasks, which I think is the wrong way round. There’s an ongoing discussion on the forum about subtasks that has been running for SEVEN years by RTM seemingly refuse to acknowledge the demand. Engagement with the “community” as sadly lacking.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Okay, all the features most people need. If it never changes, I will still be happy with it, but it sounds like you need specific features it doesn’t have.

  • Peter J. Nickitas, Minneapolis

    Sam, do you recommend task management software (e.g., RTM), plus timekeeping-billing software (e.g. Freshbooks), plus QuickbooksPro, versus law practice management software (e.g. MyCase, Clio, Rocket Matters, or Total Attorneys), plus Quickbooks Pro? I was not clear from the arrangement of the Law Technology Buyer’s Guide, so I am asking now. Thank you for your work. I am looking forward to your review of the new Fujitsu Scansnap iX500.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      If you have more than one person in your firm, I think an integrated practice management software solution makes a lot more sense. If you are solo, I think you can do whatever you like best.

  • Himali

    Hey you can also take a look at Brightpod ( http://brightpod.com ). Simple , easy to use task management app specifically for marketing teams. Includes readymade workflows & a whole bunch of collaboration features.

  • random hitting king

    I think more should be said about smart lists, arguably the most amazing feature of RTM. I plan each individual project in a separate list and then use a smart list to automagically generate a daily recurring to-do list. I have another smart list for calls (smart list of all tasks with the custom “call” tag) and a smart list for emails (“email” tag). Regular lists let me know what the tasks are for, and are useful for input and planning. But smart lists look at my projects and tell me what I need to do right now and where/how to do it.