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Need to get organized? There's an app for that

If you're a fan of making lists and checking them twice, break free from that sticky note-riddled planner for a few moments and lend us your attention. There is an abundance of Android and iPhone apps to satiate your appetite for organizing everything. In fact, there are so many that it can be overwhelming. We've decided to break down a few of the most popular.

Most of these online organizers work in a similar fashion: You can add a task, cross it off or delete it. The best ones let you add the task to a list or sub-list and sync it to your desktop or gmail. Whether an app works for you often comes down to preference: Do you like the interface (in geek terms, the user interface or UI)? And sometimes, it comes down to something as shallow as: Do you like how it looks?

This time-management app started as a Web-only, cloud-based application. Over the years, it has expanded to iPhone and Android and is now available for the iPad.

How it works: You sign up for an account online or via your phone (with the option to link to your Gmail account). On the Web version, you can start typing in your to-dos and drag and drop them into larger lists ("Personal," "Study," "Work," etc.). In the phone version of the app, there's a drop-down menu that appears after you type your task, and you can select which list you'd like your task to be assigned to.

The UI: Once you get the hang of Remember the Milk, it can be smooth going. But some of the basic actions (for instance, you'll need to hit the return button on your phone for the task to be fully added) are not 100 percent obvious at first.

Sync: The sync works effortlessly.

Hot or not: We like it, but we're not in love with the UI. Plus, after the 15-day trial, it'll cost you $25 for an annual Pro account, which allows you to sync the lists from the Web with your phone or iPad.

Astrid Tasks also has an online component, so when you're at your desk, you can add tasks more quickly than touch-typing on your phone. And after setting up the sync, the tasks you write on the website will magically appear on your phone. It also connects to your Gmail account and adds your lists to Gmail's "Tasks."

How it works: After signing up, you can connect to Facebook or Twitter and create public tasks. This is handy if you are part of a social group, such as a book club, "Bachelorette" viewing party or Bunco team. You can also follow other people's tasks and add them to your own. In some cases, people may help you complete your own tasks.

The UI: Astrid is pretty and sleek with a dark background and light text screen; tasks are color-coded by level of importance. When you launch the app, just type your task into the open bar and click the "+" button. From there, you can edit and insert "Importance," "Deadline" (time and date), "Notes" and add the task to a list. There's also a nice at-a-glance widget for your phone's main screen and funny (and sort of annoying) reminders for your alerts.

Sync: Astrid Tasks syncs perfectly to Google Tasks, as well as its own site.

Hot or not: We like the UI but wish there was a way to add more detail to the tasks without having to go back into "edit" mode.

Simple list-making is for amateurs; legit organizational geeks subscribe to OpenLoopz, an app inspired by David Allen's book, "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity." OpenLoopz organizes your to-dos into "Contexts" (the category or location of the task) and "Projects" (the actions you wish to complete). Unlike the other apps, OpenLoopz is tailor-made for GTD freaks.

How it works: You add a new "action" rather than a "task" and are prompted to give it a context or peg it to a project.

The UI: Very simple to input, but people who like straightforward lists might find the multiple viewing options and subcategories confusing.

Sync: This is where we cry. Although you can back up your info to your phone's SD card, you can't sync it. The company website hints that changes are afoot, and OpenLoopz will soon be in the cloud.

Hot or not: We can't wait for the newest iteration. It's also currently Android-only.

A little more beefy than Astrid Tasks, and there's not much differentiating them except for one thing ....

The UI: Ooooh, pretty. With its dark-gray background coupled with white text, cool font and rounded squares to highlight the tasks, the Taskos interface is sweet and intuitive. A simple tap on the aforementioned square opens the larger detailed menu and gives you the option to fine-tune it via Priority and Category.

How it works: Enter the text in the top box and click the "+" sign — or if you are feeling fancy, try using the voice-to-text feature that comes with Google's phone. But the coolest bit (besides the shake-to-erase-the-finished-tasks feature) is when you input "Call Caroline," for example, Taskos finds your friend's contact information in your phone and puts a hot button right there, so you can dial her number instantly from within Taskos. Sweet!

Hot or not: With the G-Tasks syncing capability, this app is very, very hot. It's Android only.


Tricia Romano is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle. She likes reading on her Kindle and writing for http:www.RetailMeNot.com — the No. 1 coupon site in the world. ) 2011, www.RetailMeNot.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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AP-WF-10-05-11 1901GMT