Import Siri Reminders into 2Do with Workflow

I refuse to use any reminder app that doesn’t support Siri.

For a long time, that meant I was stuck with Apple’s Reminders.app. It’s slow, glitchy, and a pain to use. In addition, I hate that you can’t set a due date without also getting a notification at 9am. Then I discovered that 2Do can sync with iCloud reminders, allowing me to set reminders with Siri, but then use 2Do to mange those reminders. I switched over a year ago, and 2Do is so much better than Reminders.app.

However, there are some weird issues with syncing this way. But I was stuck, both because of Siri and because I refused to pay $50 for 2Do’s Mac app (I was still using Reminders.app on the Mac). But when 2Do for Mac went on sale for $25 two weeks ago, I couldn’t resist. Having picked that up, I started to wonder if there was another way around my Siri problem. A way that would allow me to ditch iCloud and switch to 2Do’s recommended sync option, which uses Dropbox as a backend.

Enter Workflow. I set out to create an importer to take data from Reminders.app and bring it into 2Do. Here’s how it processes reminders:

  • Find all reminders on the default list.
  • If the reminder is a location-based reminder, recreate it on a “Location” list within Reminders.app. I don’t use many location reminders, so I decided to leave those in Reminders.app since it has better access to location data in the background.
  • Get the title, date, and notes from each reminder and create a new 2Do task. The workflow accounts for three possible ways I may have set the reminder:
    • “Hey Siri, remind me to…” results in no due date in Reminders.app. The workflow sets the 2Do due date to today, with no alarm time.
    • “Hey Siri, remind me tomorrow to…” results in a due date of tomorrow at 9am in Reminders.app. Since I didn’t specify a time, that means I probably didn’t want to be reminded at a specific time (you hear that Siri?), so the workflow sets the 2Do due date to tomorrow (or whatever day it may be) with no alarm time.
    • “Hey Siri, remind me tomorrow at 3pm to…” results in a due date of tomorrow at 3pm in Reminders.app. Since I specified a time, I probably wanted a time-based alarm, so the workflow sets the 2Do due date and alarm time accordingly.
  • Remove all processed reminders from the default list, and then launch 2Do.

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And that’s all there is to it! It works great, and now I just have to remember to run this every few days or so. But even if I forget to run it, I’ve left notifications on for Reminders.app, so worst case if a task triggers before I’ve imported it, I’ll still get a notification. You can download my Workflow and tweak it to your needs here. There are lots of great todo list apps out there, but sometimes you need to cobble together more than one to do the job!

New Workflows from 2016: 2Do

Hi everyone!  I’m finally on Christmas break for the year, so I’ve got some more free time, and I wanted to get back to the blog and do some writing.  A lot has changed in the way I use my tech in the past year.  I’ve discovered several new apps that have really changed the way I use my devices to get things done.  That being said, I wanted to share a few of them over the next couple of weeks.

One app I’ve just started using is 2Do.  I’d been using the stock iOS reminders app for almost 4 years now, and it’s never worked away I wanted.  2Do, on the other hand, meshes with the way I use reminders perfectly, and I really enjoy using it.  This post isn’t meant to be an app review, it’s more just a commentary on the way I use 2Do to get things done.


The way I used the reminders app was weird.  I had all notifications except the app badge turned off, and all reminders set for the morning (the default time of 9am).  That way, everything was technically “overdue,” and the app badge just showed my total number of tasks for the day (side note: I know some people hate app badges but I love them and think they’re incredibly helpful and useful).  That worked OK, because most of my tasks aren’t time specific.  But that meant I couldn’t make a reminder that went off at a certain time (or location) if I wanted to, since notifications were off.  This system had once worked for me, but more and more now it felt like I was fighting it (and don’t get me started on fighting the Reminders app itself).

I know there’s lots of great to do list apps out there, but I refuse to use one that doesn’t at least sync with iOS reminders: I simply can’t give up setting reminders with Siri.  I had initially overlooked 2Do because I didn’t think it supported iOS reminders – it doesn’t ask to access your reminders the way it would photos or contacts.  However, 2Do supports syncing with iCloud reminders as a CalDAV server.  This seems odd to me, but it does work, so no complaints I guess (and I’m sure there’s a good reason for this that I don’t understand).

One of the most important features 2Do has is separate due dates and alarm times.  This means I can have most of my reminders due on a certain day, without that 9am alarm, and yet still have notifications on for other alerts.  I ended up turning off notifications for 2Do and letting the stock reminders app handle them, just in case I add a reminder with Siri that goes off before 2Do gets a chance to sync.  More on the way I implemented Siri later.

Before that I want to talk about the app itself.  It runs so much better than the stock reminders app, which is always crashing for me.  And it has so many more features, like due dates and tags and projects with subtasks.  Some of these advanced items are a little wonky when they sync over to the reminders app, which I still use on the Mac (because 2Do for Mac is $50), but it’s not a big deal.  I realized that I’d really outgrown the Reminders app; I really need the extra power of 2Do.

Speaking of power, the last thing I want to talk about in 2Do is smart lists.  2Do has unbelievable search and filter tools, with lots of keywords and AND/OR/! logic operator support.  My first smart list is my “Today and Location” smart list, which uses the search: !hide type: nodue OR overdue OR duetoday.  This list shows everything due today (or that I missed prior), and the “nodue” keyword includes location-based reminders (which don’t have a due date).  This list also excludes anything with the “hide” tag.

My other smart list is my “Inbox” for tasks I’ve set with Siri.  Trying to implement Siri was a conundrum.  I wanted alerts if I told Siri to “remind me in two hours” or “remind me when I get home,” but I didn’t want that default 9am reminder for something I set for next week.  So first I went to the reminders app and created a new default list named “Siri.”  Any new reminders created with Siri go on this list, but 2Do’s default list is still my standard “Reminders” list.  All this mess brings me to my smart list: !hide Siri type: alarms AND !duetoday OR nodue AND nolocation.  This shows all reminders: #1 On my Siri list, #2 That still have an alarm, and #3 That aren’t set “in two hours” or “when I get home.”  I then just keep an eye on this list and remove the alarms on any task that show up here (and then they disappear from the Inbox because they no longer match #2).

Is this a little convoluted and maybe even absurd?  Sure.  Does it fit the way my brain gets things done and help me accomplish more?  Oh yes.  ••

 

September App Review: myHomework

App: myHomework
Developer: Rodrigo Neri
Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

As I wrote last week, school is back in session.  As much as I don’t like homework, I get pretty bored during the summer, so I’m always a little OK with going back to school (just a little, mind you).  Now that classes have started again, I have a lot of assignments to keep up with.  I’ve got my regular reminders app for my todo list, but I don’t want to clutter that too much with schoolwork.  Enter the myHomework app.


myHomework is pretty much a todo list app, and it’s got all the basic features required there.  All reminders sync across iPhone, iPad, Android, the web interface, etc.  In addition to this, however, it’s got some specific features that make it work especially well for homework.  For starters, it’s geared towards having multiple classes.  You put in what classes you have, and assign each one a color code (I can be really OCD, so I’m a sucker for color coding).  You can even put in the class times and the app with make you a calendar if you want.  After that, it’s pretty straightforward.  To add homework, you give it a title and choose which class it’s for.  You can also set whether it’s a paper, quiz, test, or any number of other categories.  Finally, you can set a due date and a reminder date for push notifications.

The app has a bunch of different views and menus, but the most important two are Homework and Calendar.  Homework does just what it says it does, it shows all the assignments you have in the app, sorted by date (simply labeled “All”), class, priority, or type.  From this screen, you can swipe right to mark the assignment as completed or swipe left to delete it.  The calendar page is similar, but it breaks things down and only shows you homework for a day, week, or month at a time.  I like using the day view, because it helps me to focus on what I have to do now, instead of worrying about other stuff.  The calendar view can also optionally show what classes you have that day.  (There’s actually a third useful view, called Upcoming, that’s only accessible by clicking the Upcoming button in the widget.  That’s a shame, since I like that view a lot and it’s helpful.)

Now let’s talk about push notifications and widgets.  Right off the bat, the myHomework app shows a counter of assignments as the app icon badge.  I think badges are one of the most useful features of notifications; it lets me see, at a glance, every time I open my phone, if there’s anything I need to work on.  Here’s the part I don’t like about the counter.  The counter shows the number of assignments you have for that day and the next school day (so if it’s Friday, it shows all weekend assignments and Monday).  I don’t like this, because as I said, I have a tendency to get worried about tomorrow’s assignments, when they’re set as tomorrow’s assignments for a reason.  Oh well.  Aside from badges, the app can also give you push notifications for assignments.  I don’t use this feature often, but it works as you would expect.  After notifications come the widgets.  myHomework actually offers two widgets, one that shows the classes you have that day and one that shows the homework due that day.  I don’t use the first, but the second is super helpful.  I’ve written about how much I like widgets before, so this feature really makes the app useful for me.

myHomework also has some other, more advanced features.  They recently added a tutoring feature, which allows you to get live help with assignments.  I’ve never used this, so I don’t know if or how it works, but it’s an interesting idea.  myHomework also integrates with a companion app for teachers called Teachers.io.  This allows teachers to post assignments, which show up directly in their students’ myHomework apps.  None of my teachers use this, but it’s definitely a cool idea.

I’m a control freak, and I feel best when I’ve got everything organized and I know exactly what’s going on.  myHomework helps me to do just that.  Now if only completing assignments was as easy as keeping track of them…  ••