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How the world’s laziest to-do list helped me finally get organized

No special apps required: just your phone and your mouth.

How the world’s laziest to-do list helped me finally get organized
[Screenshot: Doug Aamoth]

I have two problems, and each exacerbates the other. First, I’m lazy. Second, I’m forgetful.

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My wife, who is neither lazy nor forgetful, turned me onto the radical idea of setting notes and reminders for myself. Great. I can do that, so long as it doesn’t require much effort and I can remember where my reminders are stored.

The problem—hey, I guess I have three problems—was that I was almost too lazy and forgetful to use a special app to keep all my notes and reminders. What I needed was the world’s easiest to-do list. And I needed the quickest way to add stuff to it, reference it to see what needed to be done, and ultimately check stuff off.

This is my story.

What you’ll need

You’ll need a phone! That’s it. You all have phones, right? Beyond that, all you need is the ability to speak or type into said phone.

I use an Android phone, but I’ll teach you—despite my laziness—how to do this on an iPhone as well. You can accomplish the same feats using either Google Assistant or Siri.

Create your to-do list

Now the beauty of this part is that Google Assistant and Siri see you as their boss, so when you tell them to add something to your to-do list—which doesn’t exist at this point—do they make you feel like an idiot?

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Google Assistant

“I’m sorry. You don’t have a to-do list.”

No! They offer to create the list for you. They’re helpful that way.

So fire up Google Assistant or Siri by holding down your home button or power button (or saying “Hey, Google” or “Hey, Siri” or however you normally do it) and just tell your assistant to add something to your to-do list. For instance: “Add replace security camera batteries to my to-do list.” At that point, it will create your to-do list and add your item to it. Thank you, kind assistant.

(Just a quick note here: My wife had previously removed Apple’s Reminders app from her iPhone, so the first time I tried this, it prompted me to download a list app to use with the feature. You can use whichever compatible app you like, but the Reminders app is pretty dang easy. Install it, and you’re good to go.)

See what’s on your to-do list

Now, will you look at that? We’ve got ourselves a to-do list. But how do we view this list when everything’s voice-activated?

“Show me my to-do list”

Easy enough. Fire Google Assistant or Siri up again and say, “Show me my to-do list.”

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You’ll notice a very simple to-do list. Perfect for the lazy among us. Once you’re done with an item on the list, poke it with your finger.

Advanced level: Many lists

I hesitate to tell you this because it complicates things tremendously, but you can have more than one list. For instance: Much to my chagrin, I have a second list called “My Shopping List” present on my phone.

Following the steps above, you can create as many lists as you like. When you’d like to view them, simply say, “Show me my lists,” and you’ll get a list of your lists. See? I told you this would get complicated.

Luckily, you can simplify things by deleting extraneous lists. If I say “Delete my shopping list” and answer a quick prompt, it’ll be out of my life forever—or until I try to add something to it again, at which point my virtual assistant will helpfully recreate it for me.

Drawbacks

We discussed the potential of not having the Reminders app on your iPhone up above, so there’s that.

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Also, at least on Android, you can’t edit items on your list. See my list up above where it says “Fix the broken board in the porch to my to-do list?” That’s a voice-input goof, but I’m unable to edit it. So I’ll need to either check it off and add it again or live with it. Guess which one I’m doing?

On Apple, you can edit items by tapping on them. Congrats, Apple users. We thought we had you with the missing-Reminders-app glitch. You got one back on us Android people, though.

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