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I'm struggling in using both Calendar and To Do list app. I use Outlook Calendar and Microsoft To Do. I find it a little bit overwhelming to use both to handle my every day tasks. From your experience can I use only calendar for tasks? How will it work if my tasks does not have specific time? and how can I know if I completed the task or not? and is there a better idea/solution?

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    As a Workplace question, the answer is that you use whatever tool your management tells you to. Beyond that, this seems to be a software preference/configuration question...
    – keshlam
    Feb 11 at 2:24
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    Your question may fit this site better: "Software Recommendations - StackExchange". Here is the link: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com Feb 11 at 7:04
  • Work with pencil and paper till you have a process that matches what the tools can do. Software tools work best when they have a good match with an existing process. Pencil and paper are far more flexible.
    – David R
    Feb 11 at 15:10

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They have different purposes. The calendar is for reminders of appointment type events. It is not a todo list and you cannot twist it into one. To have a fully functional todo list, you need to use the appropriate tool.

  1. See what everyone else uses in the organisation and try and use the same tool. This will make interactions with them easier.
  2. Keep the Calendar strictly for meetings and appointments
  3. Use the Todo Tool only for todo list management
  4. Most of us do this, including myself, and it is not an issue at all.
  5. Perhaps Microsoft Todo is not teh right tool for you. There are many free ones out there. I use Asana (Note, I am not associated with them).
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My long experience is that there is no one approach that rules all, and that most software utilities are actually far more rigid than is desirable.

I find I have many things I regularly need to record, including:

  1. Appointments/activities planned - to ensure things are done on time.

  2. Appointments/activities executed - to broadly account for my working time, and as a limited aide memoire for past events.

  3. Meeting agendas - issues planned to be raised in meetings, notes about issues that may be raised, and notes from what actually happens in the meeting.

  4. Daily agendas - a summary of things planned for a specific day, plus items or notes associated with things that arise during that day or from unplanned contacts from others.

  5. Todo list of tasks with no specific deadline, but which need to occur at the earliest opportunity, and therefore need to be regularly brought to my attention.

  6. Todo list of assorted non-urgent tasks or ideas which can be worked at leisure on a quiet day.

  7. Todo list of current tasks or waits associated with a particular mini-project, where there might be dependencies between each item which need to be recorded.

  8. List of long-running tasks/mini-projects, where there needs to be a degree of commentary recorded about the status or immediate history.

  9. Personal matters with similar recording requirements as the above, but which aren't relevant to work, or where it isn't appropriate for work to own the data.

I find there's no piece of software that properly handles all of these in a convenient way.

Outlook is primarily designed around interpersonal communication and coordination.

It centralises diaries in an organisation in order to allow people to view others' availability, including allowing an assistant to manage a diary on behalf of a principal. This is superior to the old days when principals or their secretaries had to liaise back and forth to find out availability before negotiating a mutual time, and the secretary and principal often had to spend time synchronising their own copies of the diary.

Outlook has a limited to-do functionality, including either with deadlines or open-ended, but isn't great for organising tasks into separate lists. In the past, I've found this functionality best for recurring to-do items.

Aside from the email aspect and talking only about the time-management aspects, I use Outlook now for the basics of coordinating appointments with others, and marking my availability.

However, this is reinforced by a paper diary (which I synchronise with Outlook) and a variety of paper artefacts including post-it notes, lists, coloured pens and markers, and so on.

The beauty of paper is the sheer flexibility, including the ability to quickly vary exactly how you use the paper to match what is required at that instant.

You'll also find that paper is fully under your control, and the vagaries of companies who develop time management software, or your employer, will not alter the facilities that are available to you, and this supports the development of effective individual habits (including those that specifically suit your own strengths and weaknesses).

If you're involved in any kind of non-routine activity, you'll almost certainly find yourself having to use paper for some purposes, and technical people often waste a lot of effort trying to find a piece or pieces of software that avoid using paper for time management.

The backbone of my time management is a paper diary in which things that actually happen get written in, and things planned are entered on post-it notes placed on the relevant day. I find this is a highly flexible starting point, as the post-it notes can be moved or re-written as needs be, or adorned with transient information that wouldn't be entered permanently into the diary or would otherwise take up too much space.

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  • OneNote can integrate all the Microsoft stuff into one place.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 12 at 13:28
  • @JonCuster, I make some use of it, but again it's not a silver bullet. One thing I notice subjectively about most software of the relevant kind, is that it seems to disrupt concentration considerably more than physical paperwork with pens and pencils. It's not apparent when you're examining the software's usability - the excess mental demand only becomes apparent when you're trying to use the software concurrently as part of a more primary task, especially if you're using the computer itself for the primary task. And of course, the computer is not always as portable.
    – Steve
    Feb 12 at 13:56
  • I agree - I use paper mostly. I do however know several people who have used OneNote enough for it to be intuitive and useful to them. I've not worked my way up the learning curve enough for it to be a net positive.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 12 at 14:11
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You might want to look at the "Getting Things Done" methodology which in my opinion strikes a nice balance between to-do-like tasks and calendar oriented things. Even if you might not be able to integrate this with the tools you use, you might learn ways of managing the tasks at hand.

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