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How Do You Keep Track of Your Day-to-Day Tasks?

Image via Big Pants Production/

It was an ugly scene: Scrawled post-it notes dotting the margins of a monitor, legal pads strewn about with half baked to-dos, intentionally unread emails in an overflowing inbox accented by a smudged whiteboard hanging on a wall in the corner. The ghastly scene was only made worse by one-off tasks etched in red ink on the back of a hand—a true mark of desperation if there ever was one.

This was me a few weeks ago in the midst of a few particularly stressful projects. I'd hit organizational rock bottom and realized I needed a fresh approach to tracking tasks.

Here at the Government Business Council (GBC), we’re all about scientifically sound research methodology. But not today. Today I’m presenting some crowdsourced, unscientific research. In search of some promising practices, I posed the following question to friends via Facebook:

“How do you keep track of your day-to-day tasks?”

Several comments later, I had a list of intriguing methods. From post-it notes and legal pads to Outlook and other digital solutions, everybody seemed to have a unique style of keeping on top of their day-to-day--many of which I'd never heard of or considered. 

With Thanksgiving giving us all a chance to step away from work, it’s the perfect time to reassess how you get, and remain, organized. To aid you in your self-assessment, I now present to you an unscientific look at the various tools people in my life use to track their daily tasks (share your own in the comments below):

  • Dan: “Post-it notes first. Then reminders in my iPhone by location.”
  • Mike: “I often use the tasks sidebar in Google calendar.”
  • Linda: “For work, Word. You can print it out and mark it up during the day, or just keep it open on your desktop all day. I update it every few days and save as the date, and then can looks at it at review time.“
  • Wynter: “Google and Outlook calendars for one-time or recurring stuff, Word for daily to-do lists, and a post-it for stuff that needs to happen within the next hour or two.
  • Kyle: “Post-its and the classic yellow legal pad.”
  • Lara: “Regular post-it notes at work. Stickies on my Mac at home.”
  • Kate: “I'm a big fan of the 5x7 index card.”
  • Chris: Uses tips from the book Getting Things Done and “the Toodledo App on my iPhone.”
  • Mike #2: “Asana for work stuff. Google Tasks and calendar for personal.”
  • Lance: “iPhone reminders.”
  • David: “Running to-do list in Word.”
  • Matt: “Unread emails in my inbox.”
  • Patrick: “Outlook for work stuff. I use the Calendar and Task list features. Google Calendar for personal stuff. I also have a Notes app on my phone - but I don't use it very often.”
  • Issac: “Two digital solutions: Evernote and Asana.”

And me? On my good days, when not scrawling on my hand, I make a checklist on a reporter’s pad and use post-it notes for spur of the moment tasks. To keep track of new ideas I use Evernote.

How about you? How do you keep your daily tasks organized?

(Image via Big Pants Production/

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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