Have you ever had one of those moment where you realise, by showing someone else a tool, just how good it is – this happened with me and Microsoft To-Do this week.
Then I started asking what others use and they had no idea Microsoft To-Do was so well linked to other Office 365 tools, so I thoughts I’d share how I use it and why I assumed everyone did – and if by the end you don’t need this tool in your life, then I’d love to hear what you use instead.
So, some key features I use daily;
Tagged Email Items in one place
My email in box is huge and I access it on my desktop pc, phone and laptop, so I am often forgetting to reply to something as it passes by in a consistent flow of unread things. To help focus things I often mark them as unread as I know I’ll definitely look again. But with many devices this is not fool proof. So, I started to flag things – as this is pretty much the only other thing you can do to an email other than bury it in a folder somewhere.
But flagging, relies on you checking your flagged email! – I do find it useful that when I have the info I need to reply I can search for the sender or topic and in the results flagged emails stand out really well – so this was my plan.
Earlier this year, however, when the To-Do development team released a “Flagged Emails” list in To-Do I had an aha moment. So now I use flags to add messaged to my collection. The functionality of the Flagged emails is great, you simply Flag as normal and then on your To-Do you can easily see a list of all your flags, sorted by age and then when you click on each one a new pane pens with the details and you link off directly to the email – works well on laptop, desktop and phone.
You can also add to your favorites if this list is getting too big and you need to see a smaller set of more urgent, current or topical things.
You can also tick off your list (unflag)
I find this a fantastic way to integrate email messages that are effectively to do’s without have to add them to my to do list.
Many, many Lists
If there is one thing that Microsoft Teams has taught us, it’s to keep the conversation in the right thread. Email and chat are just a big list waiting to be searched without a way to break down the content.
In To -do we have lists – think of each list as a theme, topic, customer, type of activity or simply frame of mind. Using a separate list for each type of activity allows you to work clutter free on that activity and stay focused.
You can easily move tasks from list to list if you added it in the wrong place.
The next most useful thing is the ability to share a list – this works really well directly from To-Do where you simply share it. Adding people to your list allows them to complete, add and assign tasks. They can add details, task steps and attachments too.
This works well if you are in a team that has ad-hoc To Dos that fall outside of a project plan or where is does not matter who performs the task so long as it is visible for the team to be able to pick up and action while doing other similar tasks.
I use this for small projects, one to one work pieces or where we are pulling something together that is not big enough for a project plan. I also use it to allow my team to set me tasks or remind me of things I need to do for them.
Assigned To Me
If you are also using Planner in your organisation then assigned tasks gives you nice central location to see all the things assigned to you and shows you their origin too. So, you can easily tick off multiple assigned tasks from many different plans.
Steps & Dues Dates
Each To-Do can have multiple steps which show on your list as 0/7 initially and as you complete the steps progresses to 5/7 etc. This can be really useful for the combination of steps that have dependencies or a long running task where you can keep an eye on progress.
Setting Due dates allows your task to turn up on the Planned list, again another way of looking at the information if you have pressing deadlines or a wait state task with a “check in 2 weeks” step in it. You can also set reminders for this.
It’s a bit of a given that the tool has a mobile app that works just like the desktop version but what is impressive is the speed of the update onto the lists from Flagged email, planner etc is really great.
I still use To-Do as my shopping list too – I share this with my husband so whoever is shopping knows what we’ve run out of – only the best tools blend personal and work this way 🙂
Daily Focus & That little ding
The marmite feature (love it or hate it) of To-Do is the My Day page. This is one of those moments of honesty where you need to get real with yourself and only add what you can actually get done today, simply because if you don’t get it done you’ll be adding it to your list again tomorrow. It’s a bit like puppy training – good dog gets the little ding noise (your chocolate treat) when you complete a task. Bad dog gets to keep adding the task to the list (water spray in the face!)
What it does do is highlight the things you are just never going to do, these need to be delegated or simply not done – there is a whole other blog post right there on how to deal with priorities!
Microsoft Flow Integration
Last but clearly a favorite for me is the integration – the ability to use Flow to interact with To-Do is awesome, we have the following steps – no triggers yet. I’m not going to go into all the scenarios here as I’ll save that for another blog post on Flowing To-Do but you can see the building blocks we need are ready to use 🙂
NB – don’t forget to search for “To-Do” in Flow, that’s what it’s called.
So – that’s my summary of To-Do – I hope you found that it does in fact do more than a daily to do list and that its definitely one of those tools that is well worth another look.
Thanks for listening – don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee