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Review: Bento – a ‘do less’ to-do list

Developer: Keep Productive Ltd
Price: $5.99/£4.99
Size: 198 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iPhone & iPad


The trouble with to-do list apps – the more involved ones at least – is they effectively add yet further work to your already bulging schedule.

Bento stands in not-so-stern opposition to this. Named after the famous compartmentalized Japanese lunch, Bento lives up to its brief by helping you to separate your daily tasks into a few small, easily digestible portions.

Bento limits you to three-point to-do lists

It promises to help you “do less, but more meaningful tasks”, as well as to “reduce task overwhelm.”

This is achieved through a simple (yet daring) three-task limit. Create a new Bento, and you’ll first be presented with three basic workflows, mixing small, medium, and long tasks in each order.

Create fresh Bentos from scratch, or use a template

Small tasks are intended to be those ‘easy wins’ – think administrative jobs. Medium tasks require a little more focus, while large tasks are meant for those all-consuming, distraction-free jobs.

The next stage is to add the specifics for those small, medium, and long tasks. This involves writing down the task and setting a length of time for it to be done in.

There’s a choice of light and dark themes

Ticking each of these three tasks off produces a satisfying ticker tape explosion, accompanied by a haptic buzz. And that’s about it.

You can add additional Bento boxes (up to seven in total), but this is very much a broad strokes affair. The idea is to provide a three-act framework to your working day, and on those merits the app is a success.

Ticking list entries off causes a neat ticker-tape animation

There’s no escaping the fact that it is an incredibly simple offering, however. The developer refers to Bento as a methodology as much as it is an app, and a cynical reading of this would be that it’s an acknowledgment that the app itself doesn’t actually contain all that much content. But on the flip side, that simplicity is kind of the point.

You get three themes to choose from, all of which are scenes reflecting the Japanese theme, and all have light and dark mode variants. They also provide links to several blog posts to help you get the most out of the app.

Each task is divided into small, medium and large

Bento might just prove to be the most useful app you’ve downloaded in some time – a vital push to make you more productive, without any overwhelming complexities to detract from what’s important. But it would have been nice to have a time-limited free trial to help you decide either way.