23 July 2010

Task Management on your Desktop

There was yet another good post out of my news reader today that brought to my attention the following image:

What I find so interesting about this is its simplicity as a task manager. There is no project plan here. There's no fancy program to tell you what to do and in what order. This is simply a desktop wallpaper where you drop documents you need to work on or other items of regular use. You don't need any elaborate filing system, you just find what needs to be done and do it.

My computers generally have very tidy desktops. I don't tend to be someone who lives with a lot of clutter, but on occasion, when I'm in the middle of several projects, such an organization strategy could help any individual task from getting lost amongst a noisy picture of some place I went on vacation years ago.

What about you? Besides pen and paper, your inbox or a project plan, what strategies do you use to manage your tasks?


  1. I use the task manager which is provided in my email management software Taroby www.taroby.com It's been pretty easy doing emails and tasks from one place. Do check it out!

  2. I still use a project plan for sketching out the whole project (if it's a large and complex project) and to keep track of what to do next for the project team in meetings. It's especially useful for making sure we don't forget things.

    For my own tasks from the project plan, I keep as tasks in Outlook. Outlook 2007 onwards groups tasks and emails to be followed up on in one view, so it's a handy to-do list to work off.

    I also set some task with start dates, and filter anything out with a start date greater than today. I actually had to write a custom SQL filter to do this, but it's so handy. If it's something I need to do, but can't do until a certain time, it gets out of my way until I need to do it so I still won't forget it.

    I also keep some urgent items or ad-hoc requests for other people in Outlook as 'waiting for' tasks. These are grouped into their own section on the list so they're not cluttering up my main view of what I need to get done.

    Complicated? A little, I guess, but it's what works for me. I also know that if my computer ever falls out the window, everything is backed up in Exchange or my shared drives. I'd be too scared to rely on anything that only lives on my local machine like this wallpaper does.

  3. Tom, you're right, desktop on a non-backed up machine is dangerous. Of course, I use a Mac with a Time Capsule so I generally don't have any worries. :)

    Sandy, that is quite a nice site. As a former CRM consultant, I'm pretty impressed.

  4. Hi Ted,

    I use Outlook follow-ups for emails that need a reply or action. [I try to keep this list smaller than 20 items and clean it up every day.]

    I use Outlook calendar for appointments and reminders.

    I use Wrike.com to keep project plans and backlogs, which I keep separately and find both concepts quite useful. Plans have scheduled tasks like a marketing campaign or release plan. Backlogs have tasks which don't necessarily have due dates. I sort them by priority (drag the most important on top) and tackle them as I have time.

    That's my system;-)