Organization, Productivity

Productivity Series #3: To-Do List Management

The to-do list. The most infamous of all lists. 😉

I have had my fair share of struggles over the years figuring out HOW the heck to manage all of the things I have to do in my life. When the boys were little, I used notebooks a lot and would write long, ongoing to-do lists…which I quickly realized wasn’t the best.

I didn’t want “sort kids’ old toys to take to Goodwill” (someday, not time sensitive) on the same list as “go to grocery store today”, for example, or “kindergarten registration due Friday!”. Some things were longer terms tasks that I just wanted to write down/ didn’t want to forget about, while other more important tasks really needed to be done NOW. I started keeping multiple lists, but in a notebook this too became complicated and disorganized.

I also despised having my “completed” tasks all mixed together with my “not done yet” tasks. All those crossed out lines(!!!!)….it was confusing to see what was left to do.

Enter: Google Tasks

A few years ago I discovered and started using Google Tasks and I have NEVER looked back!! It has been life-changing for me.

Since I use Gmail (and usually have it open on my desktop at all times), this just makes sense for me. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s this little blue logo on the right hand side of the Gmail screen.

When I click that logo, it pops open my Tasks list (on right hand side), like so:

I AM OBSESSED WITH GOOGLE TASKS.

I just needed to shout that for a second. Seriously, I love it so much. It allows me to keep as many lists as I want, enter sub-tasks, flawlessly shift items from one list to another AND I have the Google Tasks app on my phone.

The app has been key for me. Sitting outside swim practice and Asher mentions his fins are too small? Grab phone, add “A- new fins” to the Kids list. Boom. Cleaning up the kitchen and realize I only have one roll of paper towel left? Grab phone, add “paper towel” to my Grocery/ Household list. Wherever I am, I can get items on my lists, nice and organized.

Here’s a screenshot of the various lists I currently have going:

I know, this is a lot of lists. But I like having things split up by category. To manage all of these lists, here’s what I do:

I created two special lists. One is called “DO TODAY” and the other is called “THIS WEEK”. (see above) On Fridays, I spend ~5 minutes clicking through every single one of these lists, just seeing what’s all on there currently so I don’t forget. Anything that is time sensitive for the upcoming week OR just simply something I decide I should/ need to tackle soon, gets dragged to the “THIS WEEK” list.

Example of current THIS WEEK list:

*I do often also jot these down in my planner, too on my weekly page. I know my system has a bit of redundancy, but it only takes a minute and I just like doing it this way.

In the morning, I glance over this (it’s open on my desktop anyway) and pick out 1-3 items that I should DO TODAY and pull them to that list.

So on a weekly basis, I really usually need to look at all of my other lists 1-2 times max (if I want). I primarily just look at my DO TODAY or THIS WEEK list. But I love that everything else has a nice, neat home!

I also love that I can actually just drag an email and drop it in the to do list, too. (See pic above- “lesson followup”. If I click this, it will open that email for me. It’s a great way to stay on top of tasks that come into my email.)

My lists, if you’re curious:

My tasks– this is a default list/ I don’t use this one!

Coupons– If I have an important coupon/ “free $10 reward” or something that I don’t want to forget about, I will list it/ drag the email here. Since I look at this list weekly, it’s more likely I will actually use it!

Spring Cleaning– A list of ongoing household projects I want to get to eventually, no rush, a la “spring cleaning” style- i.e. “clean out junk drawers, kids’ rooms” or “clean out/ organize under bathroom sink”

Do TODAY- see above, current priorities

Household– stuff that relates to the family/home in general (i.e. “order Christmas cards” or “set up new external hard drive”)

Things to Buy- I use this to list things I need to buy, for myself or the house (but not grocery items): i.e. “concealer” or “look for a few new workout tank tops” or “new basket for tennis balls in garage”

Kids- Things related to kids – i.e. “back to school supplies” or “camp registration”.

Soccer- Ethan/ Swim Team Stuff-Asher- Used to be more important when I had volunteer tasks related to these, but I still use to list deadlines/ sign ups /etc.

Menu- I like to jot our meal plan down in here so I can glance on my desktop

Personal- misc. stuff like “schedule eye exam” or “renew passport” go in here

THIS WEEK- see above

Grocery/Household- I don’t actually make my full grocery list here (I do that by hand right before I shop), but if I notice random things we need throughout the week, I enter it here. Then when I make my grocery list, I always consult this list. (Currently on the list: “kitchen sponges”)

This is how the lists look on my phone app:

All lists
How my THIS WEEK page looks on my phone

Whew, well, that was more detail than you probably wanted, but there you go. My system. I have never been happier with my to-do list system than I am now! I think it works great. 🙂

What’s your system??? Let me know!

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for technology that allows syncing of apps/info from our computers to our phones.

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4 thoughts on “Productivity Series #3: To-Do List Management

  1. I so wish that google was not blocked at work as I can see google tasks being really useful for me. I have a work to-do list in the notebook I use for work and then other to do lists in my bullet journal. That’s also where I do meal planning. Our grocery list is in the iPhone notes ap and it’s shared between Phil and me so we can both add to it and then he uses that to grocery shop on the weekends.

    I think my to do lists will really grow as our kids get older. Right now there are not many to do’s related to Paul but I know this will change. If I need to make a doctor appt, I put a reminder in my outlook, otherwise all the to dos are things I do pretty much right away/aren’t hanging out there in the future.

  2. I have been feeling like I have a great to-do system for work but not for home/personal life. Thanks for sharing this! I’m curious if your husband also uses this system and if there’s any way to “share” tasks? My husband is really into Todoist but I have never found it to be that great, but it would be nice to “assign” him various tasks and vice versa.

    1. Haha…oh, how I wish my husband was a to do list person!! I’m actually don’t believe I have EVER seen him write down a to do list of any kind. We are very different in this regard!! He just sort of keeps things in his head, I guess. Granted, I “manage” a lot more of the household tasks and if I just mention things to him he is great about remembering and taking care of it.

      However, Google Tasks does have a way to share tasks by email/text. I’m not sure if there’s a setting to actually sync/share actual lists though. I’m sure there are other tech savvy list apps out there, too. This is just one that I ran across and it fit the bill for what I needed! I don’t use this for work stuff either, just home/personal tasks.

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