How To Track & Organize Tasks, Collaborate & Get Things Done

Finding the ultimate in how to manage and share tasks has occupied my thoughts, and I’ve spent some time doing research on ‘the best way’ to accomplish this.I thought I’d share my findings.pictures of office supplies

Web Based Task Systems

There are dozens of web-based tools to list our tasks. Here are a few to get you started: Jott, OmniFocus, Things, Remember the Milk and Reqall, I used Jott while it was free and it was pretty nifty. I just signed up for Remember The Milk and was looking through its features and benefits. But I really don’t know enough about either right now to recommend them or not.

Mail Based Task Systems

Yahoo – no task feature.

Live/Hotmail – no task feature.

Gmail – very rudimentary task feature. A box pops up and you can write things in it and check them off or forward to someone in an email. That’s about it – no date reminders, no color coding.

Outlook – the tasks are feature-rich with options to forward them as an email, a text, custom code, custom date reminder, option to make a task into a meeting request, prioritize them and more.

Outlook with Exchange – all the above plus you have the option to share your tasks with an assistant, so they can help manage your task list. The assistant can add to them, mark them as completed, change the due date, etc.

Paper Based Task Systems

Getting Things Done, by David Allen, is very popular with both the paper and electronic crowd. They have paper products if that is your preference.

Franklin Covey – they’ve been around for years and have a great paper-based system. I’ve not heard very good reviews on their digital system though.daytimer

Daytimer – another respected paper-based planning system that people have used successfully for years.

Notebook/Journal/Notepad – here we get down to the low-tech end of things.

The Winner Is…

Maybe you’ve stayed with me this far thinking that I’m going to reveal which method is best and what will solve your problems, make you super-efficient and never forget anything again. You’re right! The simple answer is…whatever works best for you. What a cop-out, you’re thinking!! Actually, people like David Allen of Getting Things Done, and Stever Robbins, from the Get-It-Done-Guy, have both said to do what works best. So the right answer is different for everyone.

Think about it – you have a certain way you arrange your desk, your supplies, your closet. There’s no right way to do it, you arrange things so you’ll know where they are and so its convenient for you. Why wouldn’t keeping track of your tasks be the same way? For me, using my trusty composition notebook works great. Although technically gifted and love to hear about and try different pieces of software, for my master to do list, it goes on paper. It’s not the only system I use. I use paper in conjunction with technology. For meetings, calls, webinars, those go on the calendar with a reminder set. For recurring items – those go on my Outlook calendar as well. That’s what works for me, so why change it?

I have a dear friend who is terribly disorganized and hasn’t submitted an expense report in years (can’t keep track of receipts), When I asked him how he keeps track of things, I still remember my jaw dropping when he pulled out a torn piece of paper from his shirt pocket and said, ‘here it is’. That torn piece of paper contained the information he needed for the day and it works for him (he’s still flourishing at his job).

The important thing is to get tasks from your head into a system where they can be captured and not forgotten. Perhaps you send an email or a text to yourself or an assistant, perhaps you jot it down in a notebook you carry with you. It’s important to collect them and then it’s important to review them on a regular basis in order to get them done. Have your list with you – my notebook is right by my monitor so I can see at a glance what is left to be done and what needs to be moved forward to the next day.

Everyone needs a system they can trust, fits their style and allows productivity. It’s not the same for everyone. If you have a system you’ve used that’s paper based but people are telling you to get digital, ignore them and use what works for you.

I’d like to hear your methods or of your journey to getting organized. Please leave a comment.

4 thoughts on “How To Track & Organize Tasks, Collaborate & Get Things Done”

  1. Pingback: How To Track & Organize Tasks, Collaborate & Get Things Done :: Technology Innovations, Inc.

  2. Thank you for this post,
    I think your comparison is not complete as you missed to say about LAN-based tools, which are not email or web-based yet. For example we, in our company, use VIP Task Manager http://www.taskmanagementsoft.com/ – this is application of our choice (we seek more office-based task management and collaboration as all our employees work in-house), and probably it cannot work very well for those who need to manage distant workers or mobile travelers (it cannot work on mobile devices), but it is good to realize GTD or any other time management system.

  3. Steve – thanks for adding this LAN based tool. I've not looked into a enterprise solution like this one since I've been out of that realm for a while now. Glad it's working for you and your folks.

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