July 14, 2009
Google Tasks & Google Calendar
Posted by Gordon Smith

I am an inveterate list maker, and for many years, my tool of choice has been Post-it Notes. But Post-its create clutter, and they tend to stay on my desk, so when I am at home or on the road, I can't easily access them.

In 2007, when I started "going Google" (see here and here), I looked for cleaner, more portable solutions. For long lists that I wanted to retain, I started using Google Notebook, which I still find very useful, even though Google announced earlier this year that they have stopped development of the product. (At some point, I will export my Notebook items to Google Docs, but it will have to be a slow day.)

For shorter, temporary lists ("to do lists"), Google didn't have a great option in 2007, so I turned to Remember the Milk. RTM seems like a fine program, and you can integrate it into Google Calendar, even if the result is a bit clunky. Nevertheless, though I have had RTM on Google Calendar for almost two years, I hardly ever use the program to guide my actions. The list is a pop-up, so I usually just ignore it, and maintaining the list is a bit of a hassle, even on the RTM site.

Today, I noticed the Tasks link in the sidebar of my Gmail. Tasks has been around for awhile, but just today it graduated from Google Labs. And the best part is that it can be integrated into Google Calendar. I have been fiddling around with the program tonight, and it is simple, fast, and versatile. You can make multiple lists, set due dates that automatically appear in both Tasks and on the calendar, and include notes on each task. It even includes limited formatting options to make the lists amenable to sub-tasks.

If you haven't already switched to Google Calendar, Tasks is yet another reason, but you might also be interested in some other new bells and whistles. The ability to include a background image is fun, but the coolest new feature allows you to attach a Google Doc to the Calendar. For example, I have a meeting this Friday with the Dean and some other professors, so I accessed the email in which the document we will be discussing was attached, opened the document into Google Docs, then added it to my meeting entry on Google Calendar. Wow!

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