7 Ways to Be More Productive With Apple Reminders


It’s time to take your to-do list to the next level.

Photo by Adrien on Unsplash

Apple Reminders is a great tool for staying organized and being productive. However, some of its best features are hidden from plain sight. Here are seven ways to make the most out of this popular task management app.

1. Tags and Flags

Tags are great for grouping reminders together by type. In the GTD world, you can use them for contexts, but for everyone else, tags are an excellent way to filter through your list to find exactly the type of task you want to work on.

You can add a tag to any reminder by typing a hashtag and then the name of the tag you want to use. E.g., #reading or #email. Once you have attached a tag to a reminder, you can visit the Tags section at the bottom of your lists and tap on one to view all reminders with the same tag.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Flags are another way to filter your reminders. You can add a Flag by tapping the “i” button next to a task and choosing the Flag option. Tasks that are flagged will automatically appear in the “Flagged” Smart List.

While viewing the “Flagged” Smart List, you can sort your flagged reminders by tapping the three dots at the top of the list. You can sort your reminders by the due date, creation date, or priority to help you see which tasks need to be worked on first.

2. Smart Lists

Let’s talk about Smart Lists. Apple includes several default Smart Lists, (Today, Flagged, Completed, Assigned to Me, etc.), but you can also create your own. So, what exactly is a Smart List?

A Smart List is a custom list that you can create to include a group of reminders that are filtered by tags, dates, times, locations, flags, and/or priority. Any combination of these attributes can be added to create exactly the list that you need.

For instance, you could create a Smart List to show high-priority reminders that also have the #email tag attached. A list like this could be a quick way to see the most important emails that you need to send.

To create a Smart List, tap the Add List button and then choose, Make into a Smart List. Then follow the prompts to add the filters that you need.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

3. Reminders in Messages

To help you surface tasks at just the right time, Apple has included the option for you to receive a reminder in Messages for tasks related to specific people. When you are texting that person, you will receive a notification reminding you that you have a task with their name on it.

To set it up, click the “i” next to any task, and enable the option called, When Messsaging. Next, choose a person that you want to associate with this reminder. If the task is to talk to Jeff about the upcoming family gathering, choose Jeff from your contacts list.

The next time you message Jeff, a notification will appear at the top of the screen, reminding you to talk to Jeff about the family gathering.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

4. Checklist Templates

Templates were introduced in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura. They allow you to create a checklist in Apple Reminders. A checklist is a list that you can use multiple times without having to recreate it from scratch every time.

A good example of this would be a travel checklist. If you have ever forgotten your hairbrush or an iPhone charger while traveling, then the new templates in Apple Reminders are precisely what you need.

To make a template, start by creating a new list. Name your list and put everything on there that you want to use as a checklist. Then, tap the three dots at the top of the list and choose, Save as Template.


The list you just created stays exactly where you left it, and you can begin checking things off the list. Three months from now when you are ready to use this list for a second trip, tap the three dots at the top of your lists, and select, Templates. Next, tap on the travel template you want to reuse.

If you need to add something to your template, tap the “i” next to the template you want to edit and choose, Edit Template.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

5. Using Siri with Reminders

The Apple Reminders app is great, but sometimes it’s just quicker to use Siri. I do this a lot while driving because it is quick, easy, and safer than reaching for my iPhone. Just activate Siri and say something like, “Remind me to call Jeff at 3 pm.”

You use Siri for creating reminders on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You can also use Siri on an Apple Watch, HomePod speaker, or while wearing AirPods. You can even talk to Siri while watching a show on your Apple TV.

Siri isn’t great at many things, but adding reminders is one of the things it does best. Try it and see!


6. Group Lists Together

If you have a lot of lists, it can sometimes be cumbersome to scroll and find the one that you need. That’s why it is super helpful to have the ability to group lists together in a folder. When you can find things quicker, you will always be more productive!

To group existing lists, drag one list on top of another list and let go. If you want to create a group from scratch, tap the three dots at the top of your lists and choose, Edit Lists. Next, tap Add Group and choose the lists you want to include.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

7. Set Recurring Reminders

Last but not least, I love the option to set recurring reminders. Every Sunday night at 8 pm, I get a polite reminder on my Apple Watch to take the trash out. This is an example of a recurring reminder. Apple Reminders sends me a notification every week at the same time, so I don’t forget.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

To create your own, look for the Repeat option under the Date and Time options on a reminder. You can choose to repeat tasks hourly, daily, weekly, on weekends, biweekly, and more. If you can’t find the exact combination you want, try the Custom option or create multiple reminders with different repeat options.

You can also use natural language recognition while typing a reminder like, “Take the trash out every Sunday at 8 pm.” This will prompt your device to give you the option to set up a recurring reminder. Siri is another great option for creating recurring reminders.


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