I am a full-time system administrator, part-time tech writer/consultant, father of three school kids, husband and homeowner. As you can imagine, I have a ton of tasks that need my attention during the course of any given day, week or month. Dropping any of the balls I keep in the air generally means they all become impacted. So, it's with much attention to detail that I create tasks to stay focused on my priorities and obligations.
Working with Gmail tasksI've been using Gmail tasks to keep my life organized and track what I need to do. I log into my Gmail account, click the red "Gmail" link in the upper left and then choose Tasks. (Figure A)
I can easily add tasks using the + sign, mark them completed by clicking the box to the left, or delete them entirely using the garbage can icon.Clicking "Actions" brings up the following options to help me sort by due date or view my completed tasks. (Figure C)
Addressing Gmail task limitations
This environment works well to keep my duties in line, but there are a few things missing: task reminders, recurrence, and the ability to set priorities. It's also not easy for me to quickly access my Gmail tasks via my Android. Google recommends managing tasks via the browser at https://mail.google.com/tasks, but I find this method sluggish and nonproductive. Good thing there are plenty of free apps available to link your Gmail tasks with your mobile device!
I've been working with GTasks, a very handy free ad-supported task management program (there is an ad-free paid version available as well). There are versions for Android and iOS. GTasks fills in the gaps that the native Gmail task interface leaves out.To start using GTasks, access the Google Play store. (Figure F)
When you open GTasks for the first time it will request permission to access your Google tasks. You'll need to allow access to proceed.In the examples below, I'll open the app and demonstrate how to configure my tasks. (Figure M)
Clicking "Set" then "OK" will save the change. I can configure audio, pop-up, and vibration reminders with snooze options.
As before, clicking OK will save the setting.To configure priority, I can tap the flag in the lower right of the screen to mark the item as urgent. Once I click OK the task then appears with a red box next to it. (Figure T)
As with Gmail tasks I can mark the finished items as completed by checking the box, or delete them by pressing the task until a toolbar at the bottom appears, then selecting the trash can icon.
GTask offers many other features, such as the option to move tasks underneath one another to create subtasks, the ability to send tasks to other people, and a search function. This quick tip should get you started with the basics; you can always expand into the more advanced functions once you get comfortable using the app.
GTasks isn't the only task management tool for mobile devices, nor is it even the only one that synchronizes with Gmail. However, I was attracted to it based on its simplicity, ease of use, and positive ratings. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to manage your workloads across all walks of life, I recommend you check it out and see what it can do for you.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.