Monday Morsel - Apple's Reminders

Apple’s "Reminders" - The Task Master

Life moves at the speed of – well, life. It’s non-stop and keeping up can be daunting. Since I bought my first iPhone in 2007, I’ve been searching for the right app to help me organize my life on my Mac and my iPhone. Maybe that’s expecting too much from technology, to look for a software solution to keep up with my tasks. It sounds relatively simple and there are many apps that promise this but not all deliver. Trust me when I say that because I’ve researched or tried about least 50 of them! In fact, some apps are so complex, it feels like you spend more time figuring out how to use them than you actually save by using them.

Apple added the Reminders app when it launched iOS 5 last year, wading into the task management world. Reminders wasn’t exactly a trailblazer, but it caught attention and people started to enjoy using it for simple organization tool. Last week’s launch of iOS 6 included a Reminders update that shows a little love for the common task. The app now is smarter and there are more ways to use it efficiently and effectively. Let’s consider five reasons why Apple’s Reminders is the task master.

Enjoy the simplicity

Reminders is pre-installed on your iPhone or iPad as long as you’re running iOS 5 or newer. The first time you launch Reminders, you only have one list: Reminders. You may look at the screen with that “Now what?” feeling. Don’t be intimidated by the simplicity.

You may choose to keep everything on that one list, or you may choose to organize your reminders into more specific lists: Shopping list, to do this week, etc. If you’re going to keep everything on that one list, these are the steps to create a new reminder:

  • Open the Reminders app and hit the button labeled with a plus symbol in the top right corner.
  • Give your reminder a title and then tap the return key.
  • To set the priority, alert time, or to add notes to your reminder, simply tap on the reminder’s title. You can also delete a reminder from within this menu.
  • To set a reminder by location, tap the ‘Remind Me’ tab and then switch the ‘By Location’ switch on. (I’ll address locations below.)

To create a list:
  • Tap the Edit button in the top left corner and select ‘Create New List…’. Give your list a name and then tap Done.
  • You can delete lists by pressing the same Edit button and then tapping the red icon alongside the list’s name.
  • To rearrange lists, tap Edit and then drag your lists into the order you’d like to see them in.

At any time, you can view your reminders in either a list or date format.

Find your place

In the section above, I stated that you can set a reminder by location. Because every iPhone has a GPS in it, you can assign locations to your reminders and Reminders will alert when you’re near an associated location. If you have a reminder about groceries and set the grocery store location, Reminders will alert you that you need milk when you drive by the store.

To create a location-based reminder:
  • Open Reminders and create a new task.
  • Tap on the newly created Reminder to get to the Details screen.
  • Tap on the Remind Me button, and then toggle the At a Location feature to ON. You’ll then have a choice to set your current location or an address from your Contacts list. You can also set the Reminder to notify you when you leave or when you arrive at the specified location.

Sync through iCloud

People who use lists successfully will tell you that part of what makes it work is that they have their lists with them all the time. It stands to reason that if you’re using Reminders, the only way it’s going to work is if you can access your reminders from every device, including your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

  • Your reminders should automatically sync across all of your devices as soon as you login with iCloud. But if they don’t, navigate to the iCloud preferences in the Settings app. Please note that each device (i.e. Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc.) will have to be logged into the same iCloud account for syncing to work correctly.
  • Ensure that syncing for the Reminders app is turned on. To confirm this, launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, and tap on the iCloud button. Use the same iTunes account for iCloud that you did in the previous step. Be sure that Reminders is toggled to ON. Do this on each iOS device you want to keep in sync.

Collaborate with others

Wouldn’t it be great to have some help accomplishing some of your reminders? Reminders can help you with that by allowing you to collaborate. To successfully share, you’ll need to sync your reminders through iCal (in Mac OS 10.7 or “Lion” ) or Calendar (in Mac OS 10.8 or “Mountain Lion” ).

  • Log in to iCloud.com using your iTunes ID. You’ll notice that there’s no icon there for Reminders. You’ll need to click on the iCal/Calendar icon, since that’s where Apple has located Reminders for now, just like on the Mac Desktop.
  • In the lower left-hand corner of iCal/Calendar, each list you’ve created will show up with a round, gray broadcast/radio icon. Click on that icon and a Share Reminders window will pop up.
  • Add the email addresses of the folks you’d like to share that List with and click the Share button to send them an email invitation.
  • Your recipient will be able to subscribe to the list. If you chose View & Edit for their email address on the iCloud website, they’ll be able to add things to the list as well.

Manage the details

I read an article last week about 50 small things you can do that will save you a minute each. One was about prioritizing the things you need to do when you write them down and the other was about using repeating items on your calendar. The former helps you figure out how quickly you need to pay attention to different tasks; the latter allows you to save yourself the time of creating another calendar item.

When you create reminders, you can include a tremendous amount of detail with them by editing the Details screen. Tap the small box next to the title to open the Details screen.

The Details screen allows you enter a due date, prioritize reminders, and add notes. Enter any additional information you wish as part of your reminder. Items that are low priority can be flagged as such, items that should have more attention can be flagged as high priority, and items you can get to eventually can have no priority. And, when you set a due date, you can repeat the item. (So you can remember to buy that birthday gift every year, no matter what!)

If you’re using a third-party app to manage your reminders (for example, Evernote), I hope you’ll give Reminders a try. It has become powerful tool that offers a simple solution to a complex situation. If I can assist you with setting up Reminders to work for you, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Enjoy!