Writing Tech: To-Do Apps

An essay on why to-do apps on your phone and desktop are an essential tool for writers looking to keep track of submissions and WIPs.

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It’s rare for a writer to be simply working on one project, or to be investing time in one submission opportunity. Often writers are starting new things, editing current things, revisiting abandoned works, and looking to submit work to multiple magazines and competitions.

Trying to keep all this stored in your own memory, alongside life in general is difficult and above all unnecessary. This brainpower can be better spent on the writing itself. To-do apps are an opportunity to offload the task and keep a useful record of the URL for submissions, the deadline, how many words it is, and which piece of writing you are preparing for the submission.

There are endless choices (42 are listed here, but as with any tech that is useful to the writer, less is often more. Too many features and too much complexity might well lead into too much time wasted fiddling around with settings and tagging things in the right way, so you need to find the to-do app that works best for you and isn’t a time sink to maintain.

I am a long-term Mac user and with that comes a certain amout of historical beef with Microsoft, but I can’t deny that I find their To Do app straightforward and the perfect fit for my current (cross-platform) needs. It might be that I discover something better in the future if my needs become more complex but for now it works well.

I used to plot every approaching deadline on a calendar and thought to-do apps were a bit of a lightweight novelty that were no better than paper and pen, but having started to use one, I quickly became a convert and would struggle now to go back to a reliance on simply remembering and scanning through my WIP folder to remind myself what I’m working on.

You might view this as a googlization of the brain, where we replace memory and brain function with technology, but life is too busy with work and home, and the old way was too inefficient for me, leading to forgetting and missing out on certain opportunities. With all this in mind, I would list a to-do app as a primary (and essential) tool for all modern-day writers.

Anthony Levings is a writer compelled by capturing moments in time and history.

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