iPhonaddict

Yes, Reminders Can Be a Task Manager for Power Users

With so much going on in life, whether it be related to work, family or running the TEKSide Network, I have to stay organized. And until recently, I have always used a very powerful task management solution to manage all the things I need to stay on top of. That all changed for me when I made the decision recently to go native wherever it was feasible. 

A couple weeks ago, I did a blog post on my conversion to the native email application on iOS. I explored and learned how to make use of all the available features of Apple’s robust mobile operating system and was able to find a way to get all the features I like in the 3rd party clients and find easy workarounds for getting those same tweaks and features in the iOS Mail app. 

I decided to take that same approach to task management. Can the Reminders app be the powerhouse task management application I need it to be? Yes. It can. With a little help from iOS Notes, Reminders can be a complete solution for managing all your tasks and projects. 

When I think of productivity. I think of these 3 steps. 

  1. Capture
  2. Process
  3. Do

Capture:

So I am taking that same approach to using Reminders. I created a list called “Inbox”. This is where all task creation starts. Getting tasks into this list is easy. I set “Inbox” up as the default Reminders list. So whether I enter a task through the keyboard or through Siri, adding todos is a breeze. Creating quick check lists from the clipboard is also easy. Copy any amount of text and wherever there is a line break, a new task will be created. This is very intuitive. See the screenshots below for a better idea. 

Process:

Twice a day, I process my Inbox. I go through each task and assign the alerts via time and/or location and set the occurrence and the priorities. Here are a couple notes on occurrence and priorities. In regard to setting up repeating events, Reminders is more robust than any other client I have used. I like how delaying a task to another day, delays only the current task and not all other future repeated tasks. That’s not the case with some of the other task managers I have used. If you want to change the due time for all repeated tasks, that can be done by going into the task settings and making the change. In regard to priorities, I use this method for how I choose to mark the priority of a task:

  • ! (things I want to do)
  • !! (things I need to do)
  • !!! (things other people need me to do)

This system has worked for me for a very long time and it takes the thinking out of the task creation process. 

If a task can make use of the app link shortcuts, whether they be links to contacts, notes, emails or web pages, I simply reformat the task starting with the reminder and then rebuild the task with the shortcut in place. Once you have your shortcut, rename the task, assign it to a list and fill in the details. (One note: I found that you should move the task to it’s appropriate list first, and then pull the list up, find your task and edit it there. There is a bug in Reminders that forgets task details if you move it to another list.)

One other thing, the use of location alerts inside the Reminders app is so easy to use and because it uses built-in map data to fetch locations, set up is extremely efficient. 

Do:

Reminders also makes task completion a breeze. Simply go the “Scheduled” view in Reminders and all your due tasks will reside there and be grouped by the day they are due. This is my default view for taking action. Notifications also play a role in making Reminders a complete task management solution. With notification actions, you have options to snooze for an hour, a day or complete all without even going into the app. 

The one thing that sets apart Reminders from their more power-user friendly 3rd party counterparts, is in regard to handling multi-task projects. This can be achieved in Reminders in a couple of ways. The first of which is the easiest to do. Just turn each unique project into it’s own Reminders list. Each task within the list will be able to have it’s own unique due date and priority level. The other way (which is the path I have chosen), is to make each project a single task and use an app shortcut to link the task to a particular note that has all the related tasks in a note in the form of a checklist. I prefer this method because it helps keep my Reminders database cleaner. 

 

Summary:

I use Reminders because it is built into the OS. It’s quick, reliable, and it’s now available everywhere I am whether it be on my wrist, in my pocket, at my desk or even in my truck via CarPlay. The “Up Next” widget is iOS 10 is another bonus as it takes your calendar and reminders into consideration and provides you a convenient chronological overview of your next event or task. I used Omnifocus for years and spent the first 9 months of this year using 2Do. These are wonderful applications and are worth every penny. But in my quest to eliminate to unnecessary, Reminders and iOS 10 came just at the right time and I couldn’t be more pleased with how this has all worked out.