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Organizing my life using Microsoft ToDo

n_develop profile image Lars Richter ・4 min read

I forget a lot of stuff. I really do. When I was younger, my mother always said: "If your head wouldn't be attached to your body, you wouldn't take it with you". (Sounds a little less strange in German, but you get the drift)

Over the years I tried of lot of things to organize my life. For the last couple of years, I used a shared calendar with my wife. That worked good. Not perfect, but good.

"Microsoft To Do" to the rescue

By the end of last year, I started using Microsoft To Do more and more. For me, it started with being a simple checklist for "go shopping" and "buy a birthday present for Mark". But it changed a lot in the last weeks and months.

At the moment I have 15 lists in the app (not including the smart lists provided by the app). I have individual lists for stuff I have to do at home (like cleaning), blogging, tasks for my website, conference talks I want to create, CFP (Call for Papers) deadline, movies I want to watch, etc. etc.

Microsoft To Do screenshots

Planing even "silly" recurring tasks

Some days I get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think "Boy, you really need a haircut". Or maybe "Man, I should have shaved days ago. I look like a caveman".

That's why I even schedule these simple tasks using this app.

  • "Haircut" - every 4 weeks
  • "Shave" - every second day
  • "Vacuum the house" - twice a week
  • ...

Sounds stupid to you? Maybe. But it works well for me. I haven't had these "caveman moments" for quite some time. 😆

What should I do today?

Microsoft To Do comes with a pretty awesome feature called "My Day". It's a list you can fill with tasks from other lists. It also has recommendations (based on due dates and more) for tasks that you could add to "My Day". And every day you will start with an empty "My Day" list. All the tasks you did not finish yesterday will be removed.

You also have an "Add" button in "My Day". That doesn't make any sense, right? If the list is cleared every morning, where are the items, that I added to this list yesterday? The answer is "In your Tasks list". Every item you add to "My Day" will be created in "Tasks" and added to "My Day" as well. So no item will be lost.

Every morning I start my day by filling the "My Day" list. The great thing about that: During the day I only have to check a single list.

My Day animation

Staying social

Too bad, that this former co-worker/old friend/someone I liked and I lost touch.

Does this sound familiar? That's a thought I had a lot of times in my life. That's why I have a list called "social life". In this list I have scheduled tasks to stay in contact with people I don't meet regularly. I scheduled those tasks for about "every 4 months" or "every 4 weeks", depending on the person.

Happy Birthday, Anna!

I took this list stuff even further and added all the important birthdays to a separate list. I assigned a reminder and a due date for each birthday. "But how is this different than an event in your calendar?" you might think. Well, in the morning I will add the "Say Happy Birthday to Anna" task to "My Day". Every time I check "My Day" I will be reminded to send a message to Anna.

But the biggest advantage for me: It still might happen (for whatever reason), that I forget to send this message. But the next morning, when planing out "My Day", I will see a task "Say Happy Birthday to Anna" in red letters (because the due date passed) at the top of the recommendations. The message might be a day late, but I will write that message. 👍

Organizing the lists

When you start creating more lists, you might feel the need for more structure. Luckily, you can group lists. So I have a "Work" group, a group for my "Collections" (like "Movies to watch" and "Birthdays"), a group for all my technical (but private) stuff (like "Blogging ideas" or the tasks for my personal website). This way, the list overview stays organized and clean.

Sharing is caring

And of course, like any other good ToDo app, you can share lists with others. If you are planning a trip with friends or have a permanent ToDo list wife your spouse, just share a list and you are good to go.

Now, tell me about your tips and tricks. How do you organize your life? Do you use a specific app? Or maybe you are like my wife and can remember pretty much everything? Let me know in the comments.


All images were kindly provided by Microsoft and taken from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/09/09/announcing-new-version-microsoft-to-do/.

Discussion (2)

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metalmikester profile image
Michel Renaud

This used to be an independent product called Wunderlist. Wunderlist itself will "die" on May 20th, but there's something to import the data into To Do (works fine, I did it a few months ago when To Do became generally available).

I used Wunderlist quite a bit until I changed phones and the UI on the new phone did not allow the widget to display on the home screen, which was kind of how I did not forget that I had those lists in the first place. :( I have the app on my Mac but I don't pay attention to it much. I should really get back to using it more actively.

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Janez Kolar

best to do app ever :)