I’m a big fan of planning and process, and having a good system for my tasks is no exception. Of the years I’ve used Trello, Todoist, Asana, paper to do lists and we’ve even designed our own Interactive Minds daily to do list.
But this year I wanted more. I wanted to find a to do list system that didn’t only list my tasks, but that helped me to plan when I work on them. Not knowing a system that natively enabled this, I turned to a trusty spreadsheet.
And so I created a new kind of to do list, a digital one that is formed in a spreadsheet. I’ve made it in Google Sheets so that I can have access to it on the go, from multiple devices and it is definitely the most simple organisation system I’ve ever used. To create the template, I decided to simply mark each day and date on every 7th row of the spreadsheet, and to map out three months worth of dates in advance. What that means is that my rows show a date with six blank rows underneath and I allow multiple columns for each day. In fact, the columns are open ended, but the intent is that I shouldn’t have to scroll sideways so I don’t use more than 3 or 4 columns worth of tasks (that’s about 18 tasks if it was full, which is plenty!) To use the template, I simply add tasks underneath the date that I want to work on them.
The Benefits of this Calendar/To Do List Mix
I’m only a few weeks in on using this To Do List, but there are a few stand out elements I like:
- I can schedule tasks per day and up to a few months in advance – based on where I put them in the spreadsheet
- I can colour code the task based on task type/urgency – for example, if I have some communications scheduled to go out on a specific day, I mark it in red. Often I highlight the top tasks of the day in yellow.
- Down the track I can see that I could colour code different projects, or even use different columns for different projects too.
- It limits me to how many tasks I can nominate for each day – with just six rows a day and a few columns, the maximum tasks on a day is sitting at around 18, but is usually a lot less, or it visually looks too crowded.
- I can easily move tasks between days – I’m aiming to clear my tasks each day and to keep the number manageable, however if I don’t get to something, I can easily cut and paste it to a new date.
- It allows me to schedule time to work on things, not just when it’s due – because I’m organising tasks per date, I can put a due date for a deliverable, and then nominate multiple days that I’m working on it too.
- I can see in advance what my workload looks like
- I can block out days when I’m out of the office or have things on.
Whilst it’s very simple in its design, I’m loving my to do list format. Obviously it is a one-person to do list and doesn’t allow delegation or team collaboration. It’s also fairly manual to set up with the dates, (though I’m sure I could put some formulas in there at some point). Most importantly, it’s working for me at the moment and helping me to feel on top of my tasks and in control.
Download the template
Do you want to see the template for yourself? Access it on Google Sheets now and try it out! I’ve set up all the dates until the end of March. If you’d like to use it, please don’t edit that version, but create your own copy. If you like it, let me know!