Manage to-do lists, capture ideas, and overclock your workday (and home life) with these apps for getting things done.

If you're like me, for every item you cross off your to-do-list, two more very quickly appear. Chances are you could use a few new tools to help you manage your priorities, simplify your life, and accomplish more. If that's the case, then guide is definitely for you.

Although there's no shortage of free utilities and services promising to make you a productivity powerhouse, in my experience few of them meet the increasingly high demands of real-world use. I've tested an astounding variety of task managers, list apps, calendars, project trackers, and note takers over the years. Here are 12 that truly earn their keep.

1. Nudgemail

If you're into Inbox Zero, as I am, then you probably feel a deep, bone-crushing need to address and delete every single item in your inbox by the end of the day. So what to do with all those email messages you get that don't require action until tomorrow, next Monday, or January 3? Answer: Nudgemail. Register your email address at Nudgemail.com, and you can then use your Forward button as a snooze button. Forward a message to [email protected], and it will return tomorrow. [email protected] will restore it on Monday. [email protected] will send it back to you on November 13. And with your inbox empty, you can finally go to sleep.

2. Doodle

For scheduling a meeting with contractors or taking a poll about where to go for lunch, Doodle is a quick, no-hassle service that gets the job done. You don't even have to waste time signing up for an account (although you can). Doodle appointments export as ICS files that you can add to most calendar apps, and you can quickly embed invitations and polls on any website for easy access.

3. Remember the Milk

At this point, Remember the Milk has handily earned a place on our list of tried-and-true productivity boosters. In fact, several of our staffers (including this author) use it daily for GTD (Getting Things Done)-style life management. Type any to-do idea into the 'Add a new task' field, and it's ready to track. Add due dates, tags, priority rankings, and repeat intervals all in the same field. You can share lists with other RTM users for group projects, too. And when your list grows long, you can create custom search-and-sort lists on the fly and save them for quick viewing.

RTM boasts a sweet set of mobile apps and third-party add-ons, and it especially comes to life on Android, where its 2x3 home-screen widget keeps your most important list within view at all times. Basic web access is free, but the $25 (£15) pro version adds mobile access- is well worth the price.

NEXT PAGE: Toodledo

  1. Apps to help you get things done
  2. Toodledo
  3. PamFax

Manage to-do lists, capture ideas, and overclock your workday (and home life) with these apps for getting things done.

4. Toodledo

For more-traditional task management, it's hard to beat Toodledo's robust interface. Toodledo is optimised for the GTD methodology with context tags, locations, folders, and great tools for adding notes to a task or project. It works with a variety of mobile apps for Android, iPhone and iPad.

The free version is plenty useful for individual users, but if you want collaboration and sharing features, subtasks, goal tracking, and the ability to print cool little paper booklets of your daily agenda, you can get a Pro account for $15 (£9.35) a year. A $30 (£18.70) a year Pro Plus account adds 5GB of storage for file attachments.

5. Taska for iPad

More than a few people in this office have taken to carrying their iPads around from meeting to meeting. Our favourite task manager for Apple's slate is Taska, a £2.99 download that syncs with Toodledo.

6. Instapaper and ReadItLater

If you're focused on getting things done during the workday, you don't have time to read every interesting web link that people forward to you throughout the day. Offline readers Instapaper and ReadItLater solve that problem by letting you send the link to your phone or tablet for perusing during your free time, even if you're away from an internet connection. Instapaper is by far our favourite, but for now it lacks a decent Android app (some compatible apps are available for Android - we're just not impressed yet). ReadItLater works very well with the Android-based Paperdroid.

7. Android Voice Text

I don't care how good smartphone keyboards get; they'll always be small and typo-prone. Since everyone expects me to send mistyped text messages and email from my phone anyway, I skip the keyboard entirely and dictate messages to my smartphone with Android Voice Text. The feature is included by default with Android 2.0 and later, so most new Google-powered smartphones already have it built in. You can also use Android Voice Actions (in Android 2.2) to perform basic tasks such as 'call so-and-so' or 'get directions to McDonalds'. Sure, the translation is far less than perfect. But it's a lot less work than typing, and your friends will forgive you for the occasional wacky texts you send.

8. Dragon Dictation for iPad/iPhone

If you use an iPhone or iPad, you can skip the keyboard for capturing long-form messages and notes with the free Dragon Dictation app. The app requires you to speak slowly and clearly, but its accuracy is impressive. And if it messes up a word, you can tap to make quick corrections.

NEXT PAGE: PamFax

  1. Apps to help you get things done
  2. Toodledo
  3. PamFax

Manage to-do lists, capture ideas, and overclock your workday (and home life) with these apps for getting things done.

9. PamFax

I hate - yes, literally hate - fax machines. Every time a contractor asks me to fax back a form, I bristle. But with PamFax, you can keep in the loop for just over £4 per month, and receive unlimited faxes yourself, with no annoying ads. It supports Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Android. You'll want a scanner if you plan on faxing forms and such.

10. XMind

Sometimes the best way to capture all the important variables around a project is to map them out visually. For my money (which is exactly zero pounds), there's no beating XMind. This free mind mapper runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and even comes in a cross-platform portable version that you can run from a thumb drive. Once you create a mind map, you can upload it to XMind.net (either publicly or unlisted) to access it from all of your other computers. For £35 a year, you can also add security and collaboration features.

11. Evernote

Hard-core productivity types need no introduction to Evernote. This online capture tool is way more than a note-taking service. You can type in notes, capture pictures from your smartphone camera, clip content from web pages, and dictate voice notes into Evernote, and then search for them - even for handwritten words on scraps of paper in pictures - when you need them again.

12. Huddle

Keeping a team on track takes focus. To ensure that everyone is concentrating on a shared project, try Huddle. This web-based project-management service gives you a workspace and calendar that you can share with your entire group, so you can dole out tasks, share whiteboards for brainstorming, collaborate on documents, and chat about how terribly behind schedule you are.

See also: The 37 best productivity apps

  1. Apps to help you get things done
  2. Toodledo
  3. PamFax