Just Plug In and Go, Go, Go

I adore Google Tasks. I’ve been using it for a long time, although the way I use it now has evolved since the last time I wrote a love letter to it. Before, I had grouped my items by broad topic. Now I have them structured around urgency.

The Master list is where I put new tasks as they arise. Each Monday, I review it and select which tasks I want to add to Weekly. Then I review Weekly each day and move items over to Daily. Obviously, time-sensitive tasks will go directly onto Daily.

Perpetual contains tasks that pop-up on a regular basis. At home these tasks related to items on my wellness plan: reminders related to writing and things like that. Lastly, Follow-Up features anything delegated to or dependent on others.

Google Tasks has been integrated into Google Mail for a while, and recently they made that integration more obvious by making the Tasks button more prominent in the email toolbar.

I used to keep emails in my inbox until I had either followed up on them or got a response. Now I add them to my task list, and I can keep my inbox clean.

Gmail also has three right side bars you can scroll through: Calendar, Keep, and Tasks. I use all three pretty extensively, but I usually have the daily tasks open to stay on top of what I plan to do each day.

There are some quirky limitations. For example, Google Calendar doesn’t display tasks that have a reminder date. Calendar has an option to set reminders, but this similar function is separate from Tasks. And those Calendar reminders don’t appear in the Tasks interface.

And a lot of the functionality I described only works in the desktop versions of these Google apps. You can’t add emails to Tasks, Keep, or Calendar from the iOS app version of Gmail. I’ve been submitting feedback to Google about this, but I have no idea if submitting feedback is actually effective. Someday, I hope these apps will work together as seamlessly as their desktop versions.

I have the same set up for my work version of Tasks, with one additional list to help me stay on top of our virtual intern’s assignments. The main issue I have there is that my place of work is very much a Microsoft-based organization. The bulk of my email comes to my Outlook inbox, not my Gmail inbox.

Because we are teleworking full-time during the quarantine, I almost exclusively use the browser version of Outlook instead of the software version. I tried to recreate my labels using the browser version of Outlook and Tasks by using the Categories feature and email flags. But Microsoft’s Tasks doesn’t have the option to sort by Categories, which makes it difficult for me to figure out which items are daily priority versus weekly and so forth. So I have Outlook folders titled with my labels, and I file emails with actions in them in the appropriate folder.

All of that notwithstanding, I’ve been pretty happy with how this system has been working. And writing about it here has also helped me pick up on things I can improve. For example, in my personal Tasks set up, I had a tendency to put my writing assignments for my Eurovision blog in the Weekly list. Putting together this post reminded me that all of those assignments should go into the Master list until I am ready to write them.

The important thing for me to do is review the tasks in each list on a regular basis. This way nothing falls through the cracks. The Master list also helps me embrace the fact that everything I have on my plate doesn’t need to be resolved right away. Once I got over the idea that EVERYTHING ON MY LIST needed to be completed ASAP, the easier it became to manage my task list this way.