Task Management

How do you manage and keep track of your tasks? Do you scribble notes on a piece of scrap paper or write a daily/weekly To-Do list? Do you use a daily planner, a PDA, or use an application on your computer or on the Internet?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own journey of managing tasks. Since one of my core beliefs is …

There’s always a better way!

I’ve spent nearly two decades looking for a better way to manage tasks.

When I was a junior in college, I bought a Franklin Day Planner after hearing a pastor teaching other pastors / future pastors how to use the Franklin Day Planner in their ministries. I used the day planner for 6 years.

In 1995, I stopped buying the refill pages from Franklin and started printing out my own sheets, adapted from Franklin’s. Around 2000 or 2001, I bought an electronic PDA and used that for a while. I didn’t like using the tasks program on the PDA, mainly because I couldn’t see all of my tasks at a glance. The PDA was good for contacts (as well as Solitaire and Scrabble 😉 ).

For the next few years, I went back to printing out my own master task list. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling the there’s-gotta-be-a-better-way itch. I’m sure it’s partly due to the new life of having a child and beginning new ministries.

This time, I’m doing a couple things. Joleen and I have set up 4 different Google Calendars, each with a difference color (each of us can view any or all of them on one calendar): Randy’s Work, Joleen’s Work, Our Work, and Personal & Family. We’re hoping the calendars will provide a central location for planning work and family activities.

The other thing I’m doing is checking out some of the latest online task management applications. After a little research, I decided to try out a free service called, Remember the Milk (RTM). Using RTM, I have created personal and ministry-related lists.

But it’s more than simply putting task items on a list. Last year, I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I especially like the subtitle!

There seems to be quite a movement devoted to “Getting Things Done” (GTD) and there are a number of resources online, including: David Allen’s Web site, 43 Folders, and LifeHacker, among others.

It’s too early to tell if I will like using RTM, or any other an online task management system. But even if I don’t like it/them, I still expect to learn some things from the experience that will help me with my next system. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Task Management

  1. Nancy says:

    Well since you asked, my method of managing tasks is to write notes on post-its or envelopes or napkins–whatever I can get my hands on at the time. Then I usually misplace the list and spend hours looking for it! Would not recommend this approach, however it does test the memory when I have to recreate the list. I appreciate hearing about your more organized and thoughtful approach. Maybe there is hope for me.

  2. Dan says:

    For implementing GTD you might try out this new web-based application:

    http://www.gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version and iCal are available too.

    Hope you like it.

  3. Nancy, One of the selling points of the Franklin system (or any other planner, for that matter) is that you (theoretically) eliminate the many pieces of scrap paper. In fact, that was the best thing about it, in my experience.

    Dan, I’ve heard of gtdagenda.com (in my recent research), but I’ll have to take a closer look at it. Thanks.

  4. I watched the 5-minute screencast at statuswiz.com and liked what I saw. However, I’m not clear on what makes it a “GTD app,” exactly.

    For the sake of full disclosure for our readers, though, “Taskguru” (or “Rohan” or “anonymous” in some cases), who I assume is behind statuswiz.com, seems to be quite active in posting similar 1-2 sentence comments on these kinds of posts in the blogosphere.

    I’d be happy to read some in-depth reviews of statuswiz.com (or any other site).

  5. In a little further research, thanks to Taskguru 😉 , I came across another site I might be interested in checking out, at some point: http://nozbe.com/.

    I’m still using RTM for now, but I’ll post a review sometime down the road on whichever application I settle on (for the time being).

  6. For personal tasks I just list them on a piece of paper and stick it to the fridge. For work related tasks we have a task management system we use there, so it’s all online.

  7. I just started using a Blackberry, so I’ll see how that goes. It’s basically going to be just like when I used a PDA several years ago.

    However, just for the sake of experimentation, I’ll play around with Google Calendar also!

  8. lionel (acid42) says:

    I used to try to do things via PDA (a palm) but slowly grew away from that because it IS pretty hard to see things at a glance. Then I tried the Hipster PDA (just a set of index cards held by a binder clip, for gathering notes), then tried online software like RTM, but also my favorite ToDoist, and tried phone-to-email reminders like Jott.

    These days, since the things i need to do are less complex, I just use the index cards to list to-dos and notes to self.

    The search continues! Good luck on your own search for the best process.

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