Simple Tasks – with Google Drive

Steve Dotto here. I’m glad you’re joining me today. Our topic today is simple task management. I’ve been working on demos for the upcoming weeks of some really nice and beautiful task managers. They’ve got beautiful colored screens and they’re multi-user. They work in mobile space as well as on the desktop. They’re gorgeous pieces of software. But it struck me as I was working on that – a lot of people don’t want all those bells and whistles. A lot of people are really happy keeping their tasks in order still on a sheet of paper. They’re looking for simplicity and clarity. For them, these more advanced task managers don’t necessarily work. So I thought well, there must be a piece of software that does work in this space, a simpler task manager that just does things in a more elegant fashion.

I thought what about Google Tasks? So many of us spend a lot of time in Gmail and in Google Calendar and so many of our tasks are generated while we’re in that space that Google Tasks is probably a great tool for this. That kind of got me thinking, why don’t more people use Google Tasks more? I think the reason that Google Tasks is kind of flying under the horizon is people don’t see it because it’s not evident as an app.

There’s no place when you look at your computer screen that says here’s my task manager. It pops up when you need it. I think that kind of has worked to its detriment to a certain extent. This demo today is for those of you who are looking for simple task management that’s elegant, easy to use and easy to incorporate and I’ve got some tips that will make Google Tasks kind of rise to the top as far as that goes. The first thing about Google Tasks and the thing that I like about it the most is the fact that it integrates perfectly with Gmail. So many of our tasks are generated from an email so if I have to do something in relation to this email for Mark, if I want to make it into a task, I just click on my More button here, choose Add to Tasks and then up pops my task manager right here.

Finally, I can see it. This email has become the generation point for a task. In fact, if I click on this link at any time looking at the task, it will bring me back to the email that generated the task. That’s fantastic. I can see it here. Now I can also pop this out. I’m going to pop it out so it’s a little bit larger and a little bit easier for us to all see. Here’s the task in a pop-up window. We can see it laid out a little bit more. Now there’s not a lot to the Google task manager. It just basically creates a task list that you check off tasks. You can have few multiple lists. You can actually set up multiple lists so you can have home tasks, work tasks.

You can have a variety of different lists that you can create and one of the most important features is the ability here to be able to quickly just click on the little arrow here and that pops out a due date, a calendaring function that allows you to set a due date for all of your task. Once you’ve managed those basic processes of having a few different lists, to organize it and be able to set a due date, you’ve probably got your head around Google Tasks as much as you need to. It’s going to work just fine for you, reminding you of tasks, allowing you to return to the task list when you need to.

But as I mentioned, one of the things about Google Tasks is it’s not always evident that it’s there. If you learn the keyboard shortcut which is just SHIFT-T by the way—it’s very simple to remember—but that’s really only when you’re in Google mail that it works or in one of the Google apps. What happens though when you want to make a task and you’re in some other website? Let’s say you’re at Dottotech. You could be at and you could be needing to do a task.

What do we do then? We go back to Gmail and we put the task in at Gmail. Well, that kind of sucks, doesn’t it? That’s too much effort. So I want to the Google Chrome store and I found some plug-ins for Chrome. Now this is only going to work if you use Chrome as your browser but these tools, I think, are outstanding.

The first is the Google Task panel. If you install this as an add-on or as an extension into your browser, it’ll give us a little heck check mark here at the top. Do you see it right there? Regardless now of which website I’m in, I click on that and it pops out the task page. Isn’t that sweet? So now no matter where you are on the web, if you want to create a task you can create a task right then when you’re being reminded of it. That is an extension that is well worth adding. While I was looking for those extensions, I saw this extension here which New Tab to Task and I thought why in the world would this be a useful extension? What this does, by the way, is that every time we open a new tab, the window that we open is actually our task list.

I got to thinking about that. Actually, that makes a lot of sense. What is your default tab that you open new tabs to in your browser? It might be to Google Search or it might be to your favorite sports team, usually to something kind of distracting if you think about the whole productivity metaphor. Well, with this if I now create a new tab, instead of going to Google or to sports pages, it brings up my task list as the new default page so I’m always presented with my responsibilities every time I open a new tab, which for some of you might be invasive or might cause extra stress or extra pressure but for others, it might just be a solution that really works because you realize I’m working. You open a new tab and you’re being reminded of all of your different responsibilities. I kind of like this. I’m going to leave this in place for a little while and play with it. I think it’s a great idea. That’s all the time I have for today’s video. I hope you found it useful and I have three—yes, count them—three favors to ask of you.

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A quick video on the virtues of a simple and elegant to-do list and task manager, Google Tasks.

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About Steve
Steve Dotto is a long time host and executive producer of Dotto Tech, Canada’s longest-running technology TV show.
After 15 years on national television, Steve now delivers his advice and how-to videos on YouTube.
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