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Get it done: 5 ways to automate your to-do list

By Alison Groves · August 21, 2020
An icon representing tasks in a list in a white square on a light orange background.

For many of us, to-do lists are how we get things done. In theory, they should be pretty straightforward, but that's often not the case. Tasks come from all sorts of sources, such as email, chat messages, and notes, and it's easy to end up feeling like everything is top priority.

Before you know it, your to-do list is more like to-do confetti—spread out all over the place, and items are still around, months later.

You don't need to spend a lot of time getting your tasks to be in one place. With Zapier, our automatic workflows—which we call Zaps—send information from one app to another, so you don't have to manage tasks in multiple apps.

Haven't yet found a to-do list app that's right for you? Check out our picks for the best to-do list apps.

We've collected five ways you can organize your to-do list, automatically. To get started with a Zap template—what we call our pre-made workflows— click on it, and we'll guide you through customizing it. It only takes a few minutes. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

You'll need a Zapier account to use the workflows in this piece. If you don't have an account yet, it's free to get started. Learn more about how it works.

Turn emails into to-dos

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, gather the reports now, and send them her way

  2. Move on, let the email sit in your inbox, and potentially 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 more logical. But it's still manual and prone to human error.

You can use a Zap to add emails to your task management app automatically based on specific criteria. You can stay focused on your work while your to-do list is always up-to-date.

Add new starred emails to Todoist as tasks [Business Gmail Accounts Only]

Add new starred emails to Todoist as tasks [Business Gmail Accounts Only]
  • Gmail logo
  • Todoist logo
Gmail + Todoist

Create to-do items from notes

We take notes all the time, from meeting minutes to ideas. But keeping those organized or making them actionable requires copying and pasting, which can get tiring fast. With one of our automatic workflows, you can turn new notes in apps like Evernote or OneNote into tasks.

Extract tasks from Slack

Many knowledge workers use team chat apps for one-off communication with our coworkers. Naturally, tasks come from those conversations.

It's easy to lose important messages in chat apps. Use a Zap to send saved Slack messages—or messages with specific emoji reactions—to your to-do app.

Turn form submissions into to-dos

There may be times when you need to take action on form submissions. For example, you may be the point person for following up on customer feedback or new leads.

With one of our Zaps, you can add specific information from new form submissions into your task manager, so you always remember to follow up.

Schedule recurring tasks

We all have those tasks that we need to get done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. In-app notifications and reminders are useful, but some don't let you set recurring tasks. Our Schedule by Zapier app can help you add that feature to your favorite task management app.

Certain tasks may require more nuanced scheduling, for example, if you need to prepare for a meeting on your calendar. Try these Zaps to get the job done:

This article was originally published in August 2015, and updated in November 2019 and August 2020. The most recent update was completed by Zapier staff writer Krystina Martinez.

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