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Task Lists

I saw an unexpected article in The Wall Street Journal, Conquering the To-Do List. There was a large reference to it on the front page on December 28, 2011.

I am a big fan of the to-do list. They don’t run my life, but when the pressure is on to produce or perform within a time frame, they keep me on track.

There are almost as many forms of to-do list and task lists as there are lists. I prefer media that syncs across my devices. Microsoft Outlook is my primary email client. I use the task list in Outlook to keep track of all the things I have to do. I create categories for different spheres of my life: personal, family, work, and church. The categories allow me to quickly view the tasks I have to do when I’m in each of those settings.

But I’m not always at my computer. I demand applications that sync with Outlook. There are an enormous number that will sync the email and calendar, but the list is significantly narrowed when it comes to tasks. Gratefully, Apple included the Reminders app in the new iOS upgrade. Reminders synchronizes my Outlook tasks on my iPad. Until Reminders came along I used Evernote to keep my tasks. (Evernote is amazing! I’ll devote my next entry to Evernote.) I do not have an Android app on my phone yet. I used Touchdown for a while, but it is a memory hog and seemed to slow down everything about my phone. For example, with Touchdown installed, when my phone would ring, it would take several seconds after it started ringing before the “answer” screen would appear. It caused me to miss many calls. So, for now, I am coping without a task app on my phone. I have my iPad with me most of the time anyway, so it isn’t that big of deal.

I also carry a couple of 3×5 index card in my pocket. I have found it is a lot faster to jot down a quick reminder on the card. Then I’ll transfer to my master list (Outlook or Reminders) when it is more convenient.

I had a boss once that was a slave to the Post-It notes. His office was literally wall-papered with them–all over his monitor, desk, over-head bins. I personally don’t care for the Post-It note plan. They are not portable, for one. And if I stick them to my iPad (you know, so I have them with me elsewhere) I can’t see my screen. :)

As I mentioned before, I have also used Evernote. I love Evernote, as you’ll read in a couple days. One of the greatest things about it is an app for every device I own: Desktop, iPad, Android, and web. No matter where I am I have access to Evernote and my task lists. However, Evernote does a horrendous job at tasks. And all the platforms do not have the same features. They each lag a little behind the desktop version. Early on there were no check boxes on the iPad and Android. So I resorted to using “O” and “X” to mark tasks. The method worked by it was cumbersome to mark a task complete on the iPad and Android because you had to edit the note, wait for the keyboard to appear, backspace over the O and replace with an X. Too many taps and keystrokes for efficiency. Thank goodness for Reminders on the iPad.

I have tried the tactile paper and pencil (pen) method for tracking my to-dos. In the early days, you know before dirt was invented, I used a Franklin planner religiously.  RELIGIOUSLY! Then I bought a Palm Pilot and ditched my Franklin. (That was a bitter sweet day … *tear.) I know there are still people out there that live for the satisfaction that comes from manually checking the Complete box. I’m not making fun of the paper people. I used to be one. I merely point it out as one method. There are advantages. You never have to worry about he battery in your paper going dead.

I’ve tried several different programs over the years. Some are long gone. Rather than me try to iterate all the come-and-gone apps I’ve used, tt may be more productive for all of us if you share what method or program(s) you use to track your tasks.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Categories: Organizing
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