It’s time for synced paper and digital to-do lists

Vlad Korobov
4 min readNov 25, 2018


I am a digital guy. I tried many ToDo apps and found the right one for me. But recently I printed very important and long-term action list and put it on the wall near the table.

Crossing out a list item is an amazing feeling, emotional and motivating to move forward.

The world is digital but the paper still is the simplest, cheapest, flexible and portable all size screen giving the freedom to think.

UX designers use post-it notes to work with ideas:

Graphic designers use paper to sketch logos:

Industrial designers sketch objects on paper:

Architectures create paper models:

Business plans are made on napkins:

Developers often have a page of paper to think with it:

Unfortunately, there is no simple way to sync paper and digital.

Try to print a webpage, and you will be surprised awful layout. Not many apps even think about good printing experience. Rare apps think about the paper-to-digital experience.

Let’s imagine you printed ToDo list for 2+ people and wanted the easiest way to sync their progress. It could be a long-term home task for kids. Or room cleaning lists hanging on a wall multiple locations. What if just like paper and don’t want to lose your ToDos?

Can you easily convert the wall of stickers in Jira/Trello/Asana tasks?
Can you write an action list on a paper with a partner in a cafe, effortlessly copy it and easily track the progress?

It is not a huge problem, but I feel it should be solved with modern technology. Especially if we have good working examples.

Stas Kulesh made a browser extension that makes sure all links are accessible on printouts:

ABBYY made the business card reader which extracts all details from paper card to your smartphone contacts:

POP is a notable prototyping tool with a focus on paper owned by Marvel:

Pigeonly is a great way to communicate with people without access to the internet (in prison):

Bill Atkinson pioneered photo to paper post card approach with PhotoCard app:

You can get your photos in a roll of paper with Paperoll:

You can scan and recognize the receipt with QuickBooks Self-employed app:

Don’t be confused with laundry signs. Just use Laundry Day app:

In 2015 I led the development of the laundry labels recognition app for washing machine manufacturer. Unfortunately it was more of a promotional app from the marketing agency, but the idea was to scan the label and got the right the right mode for the exact machine:

Finally, the Rocketbook is working in the great direction.

Recently Apple implemented a QR code scanner in the default photo app (iPhone or iPad). Android devices also have it.

It is possible

So I think it is possible to write a check mark on a printed list and recognize it with a phone camera.

It is also possible to recognize a to-do list from handwritten text.

It is possible to import recognized checked list into your productivity app via API (the most of ToDo apps provide programmable interfaces so developers could build something on top of).

I will try to do it →



Vlad Korobov

Product Manager, Partner at, Co-founder of, PM and Design Meetups organizer in Washington D.C.