Use Your Task List or Calendar?

Feb 12, 2013

I get this question a lot about the MYN/1MTD system: Should I put new tasks on my task list, or on my calendar?


Simple Rule of Thumb:

  • If an item must be done at a certain time on a certain day, then put it on your calendar; and set a pop-up reminder for it.
  • But if an item can be done at any time on a day, then use your task list.

Even it it’s due today, if there is no specific time it is due today, use your task list (and in 1MTD/MYN, put it in the Critical Now section). Don’t use your calendar.

One reason for this rule is that if you do not complete an item, it will stay on task list into the next day reminding you to do it. But a calendar item does not auto-forward to the next day and you may lose it. Also, it’s hard to prioritize tasks if you only list them on your calendar.

Some exceptions to this rule of thumb:

  • If you know it may take a fair amount of time to do the task, and you are worried you may not leave enough time in the day for it, block out some time for it on your calendar (even if it is not due at a certain time).
  • If you have a task that has no specific time, but you really want a pop-up alert for it (say at the beginning of the day), in Outlook you should put it on your calendar and use the calendar reminder. That’s because the reminder feature for tasks in Outlook is unreliable.

That’s it! Questions? Thoughts? Leave a reply.


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6 Responses to Use Your Task List or Calendar?

  1. Graham says:

    Linked but not totally on subject: shared calendars . We are using simple pop 3 email accounts, and I can’t really figure out a sensible way of using a shared calendar. At a previous job, they were using a server and exchange, and therefore the shared calendar became a central point for any shared meetings, important company wide appointments. Do you have any recommendations for our situation though?

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Graham, hmmm, no, not really. Maybe Google Calendar? I always have Exchange available, so never needed to search for a replacement. Wish I had something for you for sure.

  2. Raymond says:


    Thanks for this tip. As I always say: In Outlook, Calender for Time Management, Task List for Task Management.

    One more question. I am finding that I am getting the target now tasks all done by say 3pm. I really should do some of the remaining opportunity now tasks, but do not feel very motivated to do so. I tend to rest in the fact that because I have completed the Critical & Target Now tasks, I have sufficed.

    Have you got any motivational tips to spur me on?

  3. Michael Linenberger says:

    Raymond, regarding “getting the target now tasks all done by say 3pm” you should be proud! So at 3, just move a few more OpNow tasks into Target Now. And if no energy left, put them there for tomorrow. Sounds like you are doing great.

  4. Raymond says:

    Well, I have found that your ‘next step’ method works well at this. This often means that quite some number of my tasks end up as series tasks, or just get edited and deferred to do’d.

    However, to achieve a sense of getting things done, I tend to just complete one step then change the task header to the next step, get rid of that task out of sight by deferring it to tomorrow. The only problem might be that this does seem to spin tasks out a bit longer. That said, if the task priorities are set right, this doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    I really like your SOC banner system for concentrating on target week-end results.

    Michael I would like your opinion on just deferring next step Op/Target Now series tasks for tomorrow once the current step is completed. Basically one step a day keeps the doctor away? Or not?


    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Raymond, it all depends on how urgent the steps are to you. Go with your intuition case by case. Michael

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