Agile Apple Reminders

How to use Apple Reminders for a Scrum or Kanban Agile project.

Agile Apple Reminders
Agile Apple Reminders

Would you use the Apple Reminders app to manage an Agile project? I wondered if it would be possible, so I set up a project to test it in Kanban and Scrum.

Apple Reminders App

The Apple Reminders app is available in iCloud on macOS, iPadOS, iOS, and on the web. The Apple Reminders app is generally used for simple reminders related to personal productivity and task management. There are many full-featured reminder and to-do style apps for Apple platforms, however as I have written before, I am a minimalist at heart and love the uncluttered simplicity of the basic default tools, and without the need of 3rd party software outside of my chosen personal digital productivity system.

Apple Reminders for Agile Projects

Regarding Agile project management, we usually talk about apps like Asana, Jira, Trello or other similar board and column-based task workflows. There is usually a master list of all the things that should be done, a prioritisation, a list of things that are in progress, and a list of things that are done. A task flows through each list (columns) across a board.

Note, just because your tasks are in a board/column-based workflow model does not mean you're doing Agile or being agile. That is a whole different discussion.

Kanban Apple Reminders

Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work. Work items have a state represented on a virtual status board. Typically at least three columns, or in terms of Apple Reminders, lists rather than columns.

To-Do List

Create a To Do list, clearly a list of things that should be done. These things can be prioritised using a priority flag, described using a title, description and tags, or even have a deadline set against it.

Doing List

Create a Doing list. The Doing list is clearly a list of things in progress. When you start to work on an item in the To Do List, move it to the Doing List.

Done List

Create a Done list. When an item in the Doing List is done, move it to the Done list, then mark it as complete. Apple Reminders lists can be configured to hide or display completed items. Choose to display them in this system.

Scrum Apple Reminders

Scrum is another method for managing work - usually software or digital projects and products. There is a little more structure, so there are a couple more pieces to handle that in the form of folders and more lists.

Backlog List

Scrum has a concept of sprints, which is a cycle of time, usually two weeks, in a project where a slice of work is completed. So rather than having a continuous "to do" column, there is a Backlog of all the work to be done, then a To Do column that is only what has been prioritised to be completed within the next sprint (two weeks).

The Backlog is a list where all the project tasks, the product requirements, or any ideas that are thought of are stored, elaborated and prioritised. This list of things to do is continually groomed.

Scrum Sprint Folders

We could have a To Do list, a Doing list, and a Done list. However, I thought tracking what was done in which sprint would be useful. Though it could be premature optimisation or over-organising, I think I'd need some time to see if this was really needed. For the first take, though, I decided to organise sprints into folders, and each folder has a To Do (sprint backlog), Doing and Done list - as described below.

To-Do List

You want to get these things done in the next sprint (two weeks). Move tasks from the Backlog list to Sprint's To Do list. Start one thing at a time. When a task is started, move it to the Sprint's Doing list.

Doing List

These are the tasks in progress. When the task is done, don't mark it completed here. Move it to the sprint done list first.

Done List

These are the completed tasks. Mark them done in this folder, and choose to display completed lasts in this list.

End of Sprint

When the two-week cycle is completed, anything not done should be moved to the next Sprint's To Do list. Ideally, though, everything is completed within the two-week sprint period. If your work is predictable, you'll get better at knowing what you can get done within two weeks.

Apple Reminders Smartlists for Agile Projects

An option that I did not test is instead of using hard lists and moving tasks between them to manage state, use tags to manage state. I think you'd only need one tag to assign the task to a sprint, then use a flag to mark something as started, and use the completed state and cleared flag to mark it done. I did not think this through fully or test it, though. If you give this some thought, let me know how it works - @dnbrg74

Apple Reminders Shared Lists for Teams?

Does this work with a team? I don't know. On the surface, as Apple has shared lists, I think it probably could support some teamwork - which is at the core of Agile work methodologies.


Is it possible? Yes. It works. Kind of. However, just because Apple Reminders can support a workflow model to a degree doesn't mean it should be used as such. It was an interesting and fun exercise to explore this, but I believe;

If your work requires a workflow, use a tool that has workflows.