WLAM Tech Tips-December 2020

By Marla McCowan

I have a love-hate relationship with my to-do list.  On the one hand, it makes me feel organized and thoughtful, and ticking things off can be really satisfying.  On the other hand, some days it feels like growing productivity debt [i] without any check marks, slashes, or evidence of progress.

Love it or hate it, having a to-do list really is critical right now, especially for those of us feeling more forgetful than ever during this pandemic (I’m not the only one, right?).  Generally, I subscribe to the “GTD” philosophy [ii]: if I can do the task in 2 minutes or less I just do it right then.  But many tasks don’t fall into that category and it is important to have a running list somewhere.  Fortunately there are dozens of apps and online resources available to automate your task list.  I suggest reviewing a recent article [iii] reviewing the top apps for 2021 offering an overview of the most popular applications, what kind of lists they are best suited for, and compatibility across your work and devices.

I’ve tried many excellent apps over the years but I’ve found they are only good if you actually use them.  For me, that means the app has to be in my face and available on my computer screen, tablet, and phone, and synchronized immediately everywhere.  It has to be simple to use and work the way I do, with just running lists organized by topic.  It also has to be free.  Google Tasks meets these needs and has become an invaluable resource as I manage my day.

How Google Tasks works:  I keep my G-Mail open most of the day on my desktop and the task list appears as a simple blue circle with a yellow and white check mark over on the right side of the screen.  Click the icon and it opens and invites you to create a new list.  I really like this because I can create as many lists as I want, including daily work, project lists, follow-up information for each member of my work team, and things I don’t want to forget to include in upcoming meeting agendas or training programs.  Each list is labeled, the tasks are easy to add, and with an extra click I can add as many subtasks as needed under each task added.  It is also easy to automate regularly occurring tasks that I might check off, for example: approving time sheets every other Wednesday by noon.  As tasks and subtasks are checked off, the “completed” tasks are saved and available for review at the bottom of the list.  If you want to view these lists anywhere you can download the app to your smartphone or tablet and log in with the same credentials you use for your G-Mail.  Super simple and everything is there.  The price point, ease of use, and accessibility make this worth trying if you’ve never used to-do app before.

Good luck getting everything done!

Marla McCowan

[i] “We need to talk about productivity debt” Brunosan, March 4, 2019 via Reddit,  https://www.reddit.com/r/productivity/comments/ax68hl/we_need_to_talk_about_productivity_debt/
[ii] “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity”, Allen, D., (2002) available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Productivity/dp/0142000280
[iii] “The 9 best to do list apps of 2021” Pot, J., November 19, 2020 via Zapier, https://zapier.com/blog/best-todo-list-apps/