Get more done: 5 ways to master your to-do list

Alison Groves
Alison Groves / Last updated November 26, 2019

For many of us, our to-do list rules our world. But the way in which we manage that list—the methods, workflows, and task execution—is almost as unique as we are. And like it or not, our tasks are everywhere: In our inbox, team communication tool, note-taking app, and coming from our coworkers through forms and requests. With so many different ways to work, how can you manage it all?

Here are five different ways Zapier can help you master your to-do list by automatically creating items from tasks that come from email, team chat apps, or notes.

Schedule recurring tasks

"Having all of this done automatically is extremely valuable because the team doesn't have to waste valuable time repeatedly creating all of these items."

There are certain tasks that need to be completed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Having handy reminders in a to-do app can keep you from forgetting even the most basic tasks. While some apps don't offer recurring task functionality, Zapier can step in and do it for you with our Schedule app.

"We use Zaps that combine Schedule and Basecamp to keep our business on track," says Paul Pasquale, founder of 7 River Systems. "Every business has a distinct rhythm, and following it ensures that we get our work out the door on time, our invoices are mailed out, and our bills paid.

"I use the Schedule app to make sure that certain to-dos, notes and appointments are created on a regular basis. Having all of this done automatically is extremely valuable because the team doesn't have to waste valuable time repeatedly creating all of these items."

Here are three pre-built Zaps—Zap is what we call our automatic workflows—to get you started:

Turn emails into to-dos

"Now I can process my inbox quickly, create to-dos out of anything actionable, and get back to more pressing work."

An email comes in from your boss—she needs those monthly growth reports from you by the end of the week. You've got three options:

  1. Stop what you're doing, put the reports together now, and send them her way
  2. Move on, let the email sit in your inbox, and probably forget to do it
  3. Open up your to-do app, type out the details of the task, and keep it on your radar

No. 3 is your best bet—it helps you remember to do it later, but doesn't derail progress on whatever you're doing now.

But it's still manual. That's where Zapier comes in.

"A year ago, I wasn't very good at managing my inbox," says Joe Stych, a marketer at Zapier. "I'd kind of treat it like a to-do list, letting messages that I needed to take action on sit in my Gmail account, unanswered. Other emails would pile up on top of them, or I'd just forget. To get myself into a better habit, I set up a Zap that connects Gmail and Todoist.

Whenever I tag a Gmail email with todo or reply, Zapier automatically creates a Todoist task for me and sorts it accordingly. Now I can process my inbox quickly, create to-dos out of anything actionable, and get back to more pressing work."

Create to-do items from notes

We take notes all the time, from minutes for meetings to jotting down ideas at our desks. But keeping those organized or making them actionable means duplicating that effort inside your to-do app. If you're adding a note about a follow-up task in a note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote, you can start using Zapier to automatically copy it into your to-do list.

"We use Evernote to collect websites, competitors, or project-related research articles," says David Pidsley, executive director of strategy for Cause Analytics. "We then push the new items from Evernote into different projects in Asana, called 'Project A Research Backlog' or 'Client B's Competitors.' We then have Zapier assign them a date and person to undertake analysis of the backlog, marking them as done as they go."

Extract tasks from Slack

"Anytime a colleague asks me to do something throughout the work day, I know it won't slip between the cracks thanks to Zapier's automation."

Many of us use communication tools like Slack to chat with our teammates, and to-dos often come out of those interactions. When that happens, you either take a moment to write down the task, copy and paste a note in another app, or just say "I'll come back to that." By using a simple Zapier automation, however, you can create a to-do item in the app of your choice whenever you star any message in Slack.

"For years I worked, like many do, by forwarding actionable emails to my to-do list of choice, Todoist," says Dan LeFebvre, creative content manager at Pluralsight. "That all changed when my company announced we were moving all internal communications to Slack. While I loved that I wasn't spending nearly as much time in email anymore, I saw myself letting actionable messages slip through the cracks."

LeFebvre knew he needed to figure out a way to replicate his process now that his company had permanently made the switch to Slack.

"One of my Zaps now automatically sends any starred message from Slack to Todoist with a due date of today. Now anytime a colleague asks me to do something throughout the workday, I know it won't slip between the cracks thanks to Zapier's automation."

Matt Farrand of Maryville Vineyard echos Dan's sentiments. "In channels with lots of team members, the chat moves quickly so whenever tasks are mentioned, they tend to get buried. Using Zapier, I can quickly star a Slack message and add it to my Todoist inbox for follow up."

Turn form submissions into to-dos

There may be times when you need forms on your website to feed into your to-do list. You might use forms to gather potential client inquiries, compile user bug reports, or solicit customer feedback.

With a form app like Typeform and a task management system such as Trello, you can gather whatever information you need and automatically turn that into an actionable to-do item.

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