Stop losing track of your tasks by scheduling them as calendar appointments instead

How do you create your daily to-do list? You may be using more than one task management system, especially if you work in a team. (And yes, Post-It notes and napkins are included).At the end of a meeting-packed day, you may have some tasks undone. Let’s face it – you may not have had time for more than a cursory glance at some of your task lists.

There’s an easy way around this: schedule tasks as “all-day” appointments.

In Gmail or Outlook, this moves the tasks to the top of your daily calendar view so that you can see your tasks and meetings in one view. I personally prefer this to actually blocking out time to accomplish a specific task. What if I’m not in the right frame of mind (sorry, Mel Robbins) to accomplish the task at the time I’ve scheduled it? Also, I don’t want to signal to people in my workgroup that I’m unavailable for a meeting or signal to myself that my day is “all blocked out.”

If you do manage your tasks this way, make sure you mark your time as “Free” instead of “Busy” so that colleagues can still book appointments for you on that day. It’s also a good idea to turn off “Reminders” for each task so that you’re not interrupted with alerts that you were supposed to begin a particular task at midnight.

At the end of each day, you can move completed tasks into roughly the time of day when you worked on them and move incomplete tasks to the next day you’d like to do them. This creates a record in your calendar of what you were doing on a given day and ensures that you remember to finish the unfinished work.

In my experience this works better than using Google or Outlook “tasks” with due dates. The due dates only show you when you’re supposed to complete them – not when you’re planning to get the work done.

(A version of this post appeared in the original incarnation of Friday Goody Bag. If you’re a diehard FGB fan with 3 extra minutes on your hands, you can read our origin story here. Also, I would like to acknowledge the source of this idea. While there are plenty of blog posts debating the virtues of using a calendar versus using a task manager, one post that I read a few months ago gave me the idea of creating day-long appointments to hot-rod your calendar view. When I recreated this post, I was unable to find the original source of the idea. I’ll keep looking, because it was brilliant and I’d like to give credit where it’s due!)