What planner system do you currently use? Are you diligent about using it? What changes, if any, would you like to make to your time management tactics?
In another post, we examined the pros and cons of paper planning systems, and I reviewed four paper planners on the market today. This article will focus on some popular electronic planner systems.
Features of an Electronic Planner
Electronic planning systems…
- Can be sorted, categorized, reprioritized and searched easily.
- Can be shared – as appropriate – with your spouse, assistant, or workgroup.
- Are backed up in case of accidental loss or damage to the unit (if you synchronize the data and back up appropriately).
- Integrate well with other electronic systems such as email and contacts.
- Have less functionality on the handheld versions as compared to the desktop/laptop applications
Outlook Calendar and Tasks (office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/) – This is what I personally use and train many of my clients on because it is functional – if used correctly – available wherever Outlook is the mail system in place, and can be shared with other Outlook users. I recommend Outlook for users who receive a high volume of email because emails can be easily converted into Tasks, Calendar items, or even Contacts. Downsides to Outlook: Tasks do not sync well with Androids and iPhones, and the Mac version has limited functionality.
Google (www.google.com) – Google is famous for the ability to have your information in the cloud and therefore accessible to you anywhere there is an internet connection. The calendar works much the same as other online calendars, but the functionality within Gmail to manage to-do items is limited unless it syncs with Outlook or another tool.
Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com) – Works with most anything hand-held or in the cloud. RTM is clean and easy-to-use. Tasks can be grouped and reminders can come via email, text, and IM. It integrates with Gmail and Outlook.
ToodleDo (www.toodledo.com) –ToodleDo has similar features as Remember the Milk. A main benefit of ToodleDo is its ability to sync with Outlook Tasks in a robust manner – this is especially important if the user has an iPhone or Android that generally won’t “talk” to Outlook.
If you are looking for a cloud-based solution to share tasks within a team, you may want to consider HiTask (http://hitask.com) or 5pm (www.5pmweb.com). Both systems allow teams to track tasks, upload files, and report time spent. HiTask is structured around David Allen’s GTD system (see November newsletter for details) and 5pm is geared toward managing projects. I have trained teams on 5pm and recommend it highly.
If you need to keep your personal to-do items separate from your work priorities, you may want to consider Cozi (www.cozi.com). On my Facebook page, the following information was posted in support of this app: “It’s a shared family calendar, shopping list, journal, etc. – so when my husband is at the store, he just checks the app and can see the things I put on the list. Plus, he adds his business and personal commitments and I add mine so we can see everything in one place.” Cozi will sync with Outlook Calendar if needed.
Please remember that a car is only as good as its driver. No planner system anywhere will operate well without your daily intervention. If you are feeling lost in planner-land, contact me and we will select and customize a time management system that will help you be at your professional best.
NOTE: Some features have been updated since this post was written. A more recent review is available here.
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at email@example.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.
Dr Gratias, can you direct me to online training on how to use Outlook Calander? I have been searching for days on the best planners to use and stumbled upon you video on Franklin Covey and was spared the cost of buying the product. My employer uses MS 365 Outlook but no training on how to use the functionality. I want to start my MBA (I’m 53) but I have got to,get organized and committed to a schedule. Thanks for your time and what I already gained from your website.
Hi Craig – If all you need are some basic instructions on using Outlook, start with Microsoft’s website. There are some videos that can guide you through the essentials. One of the things I offer clients is how to use Outlook as an integrated productivity tool. I do this both in coaching and my seminars. Good luck with your MBA! ~Melissa
Are you sure Remember the Milk doesn’t sync with Outlook. They advertise that it does. I use the free version (which does not) but was considering paying for the premium version just for that reason. Anyone have experience with RTM & Outlook?
Hi Kevin – I updated this post here: https://melissagratias.com/electronic-task-management-tools-email-integration-edition/ RTM does sync with Outlook now – thanks for the catch. I’ll update the post. ~Melissa
Hi, nice article thanks for sharing with us. But I recommend you bordio. It allows you to schedule tasks and appointments right in the online calendar planner. So, try it