Get More Done: 5 Ways to Master Your To-Do List

Alison Groves
Alison Groves / August 4, 2015

Zaps for Your To-Do List

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 individually. And like it or not, our tasks are everywhere: in our inbox, team communication tool, note taking app, and maybe even coming in from others via forms. With so many different ways to work, how can you manage it all?

Let's automate it.

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."

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

"Zapier (assigns) them a date and person to undertake analysis of the backlog, marking them as done as they go."

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 that note to Evernote or OneNote, however, you can start using Zapier to copy it to your to-do app and keep you on task.

"We use Evernote to collect websites, competitors or project-related research articles, into agreed Notepads," 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,' and 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 communiction tools like Slack to chat with our teammates, and often actionable items 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 star any message in Slack and create a to-do item in the app of your choice.

"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 work day, 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 use forms, for example, to gather potential client inquiries, compile user bug reports, or solicit customer feedback.

With a form app like Wufoo and a task management system such as Wrike, you can gather whatever information you're in need of, and automatically turn that into an actionable to-do item.


The Best To-Do Apps

See the 40 best to-do apps

Managing your task list is a personal experience, the workflow needs to be just right for you or the system might fail. When thinking about the best way to take care of your to-dos, the right app for you is a huge part of that equation.

With that in mind, we took a look at 40 to-do apps: what they are best for, any cost associated with them, what platform they are built for, and what might set them apart from the others. The apps cover the following areas:

For a quick reference of the apps covered in this article, download a free cheat sheet containing each tool's best features, pricing and support platform.

Download Zapier's To-Do List App Cheat Sheet


Major Zapier Task History Upgrade

New Zapier Task History

Whenever a Zap sends data from one app to another, a record is added to your Task History. Before today, those records consisted of the bare essentials: the two apps involved, the name of the Zap and an overview of the data passed between the apps.

We're thrilled to roll out an overhauled Task History that not only provides an easier-to-use interface with loads more details, but it introduces a highly-requested feature, too: Autoreplay. We'll get to that feature in a moment, but first more about the new Task History.

When you visit your Task History, you'll see three significant updates.

1. Find Your Zaps Faster

Task History Search

The previous Task History only allowed you to search across tasks, surfacing anything related to your search term. With the new Task History, you have the ability to search inside individual fields, including your list of Zaps and the block of data sent with the task. So next time you're trying to nail down where an error took place, use the search bar most relevant to your quest—you'll get an answer in no time.

2. Get to the Right Place Right Away

Click to enlarge

The old Task History was a Zapier power user's tool. Today's task history is designed for everyone—whether you're a first-time Zapier user or long-time, high volume user. With that in mind, we added text labels to make items easier to find and understand. For example, rather than crossing our fingers that you'll click a tiny down error to expand a task's details, you now see two explicit options: "Data In" and "Data Out". Ahhh, isn't that much better?

3. Identify the Problem with a Glance

Click to enlarge

The revamped Task History comes with a fresh details page for each individual task—just click on a task and be lead to a view that shows you a clear picture of the data transmitted. If there's an error, it's now much easier to spot it, too.

Autoreplay

APIs, which allow us to integrate apps with each other, can be finicky. They can be down. They can timeout. They can return errors. And when any of those things happen, Zaps can result in an error, too. But that changes today. Now users subscribing to our Professional or Professional Plus plan get immediate access to the powerful new Autoreplay feature—no more will an API timeout or an oddity yield a one-time try that results in an error. With Autoreplay enabled, Zapier keeps at it until the task is a success.

The new Autoreplay feature, like our longtime API Status Board, email Zap Alerts for errors and Task History, give you of mind peace.

Upgrade to Professional or Professional Plus and take advantage of these new features!


New Zapier Apps, Triggers and Actions

During July, we welcomed 16 apps to Zapier, including form apps, and tools for email marketing and project management. We also had notable updates made to our Emma email marketing integration and Agile CRM integration.

Webflow

Web traffic is booming on mobile devices. If you want to reach your audience, you need to make sure that your website looks great on any screen, big or small. Creating responsive websites from scratch can be a challenge, but Webflow has created a platform to make it possible for anyone. And once the site is built, it's time to rely on Zapier to send lead or contact information you collect to the app.

"New Story 100% would not be able to do what we do without Zapier," says Matthew Marshall, co-founder of the non-profit. "We are hosting a party later this month and were easily able to create a Zap that takes (Webflow) form submissions and adds them to a Google spreadsheet with their RSVP status and other data. It's so easy for us to stay on top of the event management, and nothing gets lost in email."

See our Webflow integration for available triggers.

Cognito Forms

Online forms are an incredibly easy way to capture information for just about anything. Generating leads from your website, event registrations, even running surveys, the potential is endless. Cognito Forms gives you the power to create forms, surveys, even handle payments for anything you might need.

"In my position I have to take form entries from account executives as to what creative message a campaign should include, in this case it is for digital campaigns," says Adam Schanz, online content director for iHeartMedia. The entertainment company relies on Zapier to connect Cognito Forms with Trello.

"The account executive fills out a short form with the client details, I then take those data entries and have Zapier create a production ticket on a Trello board," Schanz says. "I use the Trello board to keep the account executive up to date as to their production order status."

See our Cognito Forms integration for available triggers and actions.

Convo

Team communication is everything. Having knowledge across all projects along with the ability to speak with teammates to get any information you might need boosts productivity. Convo provides a whole communication suite to ensure you have everything you need to stay on the same page with your team, from annotation on documents, to one-on-one conversations, to robust search.

See our Convo integration for available actions.

Donately

Any non-profit will tell you: fundraising is hard. Time is stretched thin as it is, and there are other tasks to be accomplished outside of managing donations. Donately gives you tools such as forms you can embed to capture donations, landing page builders for specific campaigns, and reporting so you can keep tabs on things.

See our Donately integration for available triggers.

Zengine

You may think that building a custom application for your company is out of the question (unless you have piles of money to spend). But Zengine helps you build apps for specific projects, complete with self-managed databases and custom notifications.

"I use Zengine for all of my business forms, and have linked Zengine to other programs like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets and Xero to automate a process that we use to be manually," says Andrew Fee, co-owner of dance company Raw. "When booking data is submitted, and once the booking is confirmed, we have a few automations that are triggered from that.

"A customized email with booking detail is sent to the client, an email with booking details sent to a staff member, the content is sent to Xero accounting software sitting as a draft invoice to be checked and sent, and is also sent to a calendar to create an entry and automatically add staff or instructor," Fee says. "Finally, that content is added to spreadsheet with all other bookings."

See our Zengine integration for available triggers and actions.

Bidsketch

When doing client work, a lot of time is spent on acquiring and keeping the client, which takes away from actual billable hours. Once you attract a potential client, valuable hours may be spent on putting together proposals to secure the business. The less time you can spend working on pitches and proposals, the more billable hours you'll have in your day. Bidsketch helps you cut down on the amount of time you spend creating and refining proposals, and with a little help from Zapier, you can pull all kinds of data directly into or out of them.

See our Bidsketch integration for available triggers and actions.

Eventjoy

Event management is a very large task. Not only do you need to worry about the logistics of the event, but there's ticket sales, promotions, and keeping tabs on all of that data. That's where Eventjoy comes in, taking care of those things for you so you can worry about making sure your event runs smoothly.

See our Eventjoy integration for available triggers.

Paymo

Task management, time tracking, and invoicing: important pieces when managing any project. Paymo brings all of that together, and by connecting to Zapier, you can automatically bring in other data that originates outside your projects.

See our Paymo integration for available triggers and actions.

Formsite

Need to collect information from your website? That's where forms come in. Leads, event registrations, contact inquiries, and more can all be captured with a simple web form. Once that information comes in however, you probably want it to end up in another app like a help desk or CRM. Formsite can help you create and place the forms you're looking for, and Zapier can help with the rest.

See our Formsite integration for available triggers.

allthings

Managing projects is a tough job, and it requires good tools to help. Allthings gives you the ability to create lists, keep tasks in order, track time, and collaborate on overall projects. And no matter what other apps you use, Zapier can help fill the gap between them.

See our allthings integration for available triggers and actions.

10to8

If take any type of appointments, keeping a reliable and updated booking system is paramount. 10to8 provides online booking forms for your website, and reminders that help you keep up with your appointments.

"I run a probate administration company, and have 10to8 embedded into my website," says Tony Crocker of IWC Estate Planning.

"I am constantly on the road and often making changes to my diary, and my clients visit my website in order to arrange for our services. I use Zapier to check for new events in my Office 365 account and then push them onto 10to8, thus blocking out the time. I cannot have duplicate appointments, bearing in mind that many of my appointments are for dealing with bereaved families I need a system I can rely on. Zapier is perfect for me."

See our 10to8 integration for available triggers and actions.

Axosoft

The software development process has many hands involved: product owners, SCRUM masters, developers, and quality analysts. Axosoft helps you organize project information and communicate with your teammates so the development process runs smoothly.

See our Axosoft integration for available triggers and actions.

LiveAgent

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and giving them the opportunity to easily contact you can go a long way. Using a chat application like LiveAgent allows you to give your customers an easy way to communicate with you and get those answers they need in just a few clicks.

See our LiveAgent integration for available triggers and actions.

RocketResponder

Email marketing is one of the best communication channels for keeping in touch with your customers, and RocketResponder gives you great tools to send your campaigns. Enhance those campaigns by connecting them to Zapier to create subscribers in RocketResponder from landing pages, e-commerce tools, and spreadsheets.

See our RocketResponder integration for available actions.

Megaventory

E-commerce is a lesson in multitasking. You need to manage inventory, confirm that sales are processed correctly, and analyze data to help your business grow. Megaventory helps you organize all of it.

See our Megaventory integration for available triggers.

elmah.io

If your job includes managing servers, you know how important it is to stay on top of any errors that might occur. Making sure you know as soon as possible that there may be troubles is where Elmah.io comes in. Always be in the know on the status your .NET applications.

See our elmah.io integration for available triggers.

App Updates

18 New Email Marketing Triggers for Emma

Email marketing platform Emma added a robust list of 18 triggers to their Zapier integration.

  • Group Management: Remove Member from Group, New Group, Group Delete, Group Update
  • Member Management: Member Delete, Member Update, Member Status Update, Member Add to Group, New Unsubscriber
  • Campaign Management: Message Open, Message Forward, Message Click, New Field, Field Update, Mailing Finish, Message Share Click, Message Share, Field Delete

See our Emma integration for all available triggers and actions.

4 New Agile CRM Triggers and Actions

Agile CRM added new Triggers and Actions to Zapier, including the ability to update contacts.

New Triggers

  • New Event: Create a new event, and the Zap will trigger that data out to another app
  • New Task: Zap will trigger upon task creation

New Actions

  • Update Contact: If a contact already exists in Agile, the Zap will update their information
  • Create Event: Create an event in Agile from any of Zapier's 450-plus connected apps

See our Agile CRM integration for available triggers and actions.


Learn More About Your Apps + Zapier

Every month we team up with folks from Zapier-connected apps to host free online training sessions, where you can learn the ins and outs of automation.

In August we're co-hosting webinars with the teams at RelateIQ and Webmerge. We'll cover how to use those apps with Zapier, and other tricks that will enhance your workflows. If you can't make a session, or want to catch up on previous events, we have an archive where you can watch recordings anytime you'd like.


A Look Inside Zapier

In a few weeks time, our team will be converging on Traverse City, Michigan, for the fifth week-long Zapier retreat. As a completely remote company, we use the time to work on larger projects, strategize within individual departments, and hang out with our coworkers from all over the world.

Want to learn more about how to run a remote team? Check out our "Ultimate Guide to Remote Working."

*Join Zapier! We're currently hiring a product designer and always want to hear from individuals interested in working with us—just email jobs@zapier.com.


Go back in time! Read our June edition of the Zapier Monthly: "Five Ways to Get More Leads Using Automation".

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