046: How To Use One To-Do App For Everything, and What I’m Using Now


Speaking from experience, I used to have multiple apps to track what I had to do everyday – not to mention the planners, sticky notes, you name it. Why the different mediums? I justified to myself that they all had something special they were good for, or I just couldn’t break away from it. I wanted to like it, so I hung on. That wasn’t serving me any good. Today, I’m discussing how to utilize one app for everything, and letting you know what I’m using now.

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Welcome to Coffee Powered Systems, equipping women with actionable steps to overcome, overwhelm and streamline business and life. So grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me. I'm your host, Miranda Merten. Welcome back to Coffee Powered Systems, I'm your host, Miranda Merten, and today we are talking about how to use one to do app for everything and what I'm using now. Now why am I talking about just using one to do app for everything? It's because speaking from experience, I used to have multiple apps to track what I had to do every day, not to mention paper planner, sticky notes, whatever I could find.


You name it. I love having lots of options of where to store myself. And if you're anything like me, I'm sure that you do too. But why all the different things? I came to a realization that I can't really be productive if I'm looking for things everywhere, every which way. I don't know which notebook it's in. One day I'm using this favorite notebook. The next day I'm using this favorite app. So I came to the conclusion that I had to consolidate and put everything in one place.


And that is what I'm focusing on, moving forward and into twenty, twenty one and beyond. And I want to really help you get to that place as well. Now what I realized is that I had justified to myself that every little thing I was using had something special that they were good for, or I just really liked it so much and I wanted to love it and I wanted to use it. So I hung on to it. But that wasn't serving me any good.


And if you're in that same situation, it's probably not doing you any good either. So I want to talk about how to get away from that, how to break away from using all these different little things in different little areas and just consolidate into one place. What is the benefit, though, of consolidating? I'm sure it's pretty obvious to you what the benefit would be, but I'm going to go over it with you anyway. Um, tasks when they are written down all over the place, you've got some in your calendar, you've got some, I don't know, Google Sheets or Google Docs.


You've got some in Asana. Maybe you used ClickUp or nifty one time and you kind of keep going back to it. You've got a fancy paper planner over here, or maybe you just printed out some planner sheets from somewhere that you thought were really cute and use those every once in a while. Well, I want you to pick one. That's it. Just pick one. Pick something that you think you will use moving forward, because what you want to do is get it all in one place so you don't forget anything important.


Now, if you're going to start with a paper system, that's fine to start with. But ultimately, I recommend finding a digital app that works for you and you can still use a paper planner to carry around with you. Because I do. I still have my paper planner. But ultimately, it shouldn't be your heavy lifter. You want to get something that's going to get your things out of your head and help you do the work and help clear your mind so you don't have to remember them and you don't have to remember so many things.


And especially if you work with a team, you can't share your paper planner. They're not going to be walking around with you. You're not going to hand it off to them. And if you're solo right now, you want to get all these things down. Now is the perfect time to get organized and get these things in order so that when you do start growing a team or when you do bring on an assistant, it's a lot easier for you to pass the baton and say, here's where everything is kept, go to it.


So if you want to start with a paper planner, that's fine. You probably already have one. If you don't, I do have a twelve week planner. It's a free digital download and I will drop the link down in the show notes for you. It's Mirandamerten.com/12 weeks. You can get that planner and print out the pages and work with that. If you're just looking for something to start with. It's twelve weeks because I love working in 90 day sprints just a quarter at a time.


You don't need to focus on an entire year up front, but just get down the big things and break them down. That planner will show you how to do that. It walks you through every step of the way. Next up, if you're looking for something, a step above a paper planner, but not quite as robust as a project management system yet. I also do have a free Google Sheets template, and I talked about that back on Episode twenty four, how to use Google Sheets as a simple task manager.


If you want to get just something that you can use as a task manager, get used to creating a system and making them digital. That's a good place to start. So go ahead and check that out. That link is also done in the show notes, but you can find that right now at Mirandamerten.com for twenty four. You can listen to the episode to explain the. Manager sheet and also just download from the show notes, links. So let's get back to how you want to migrate and have everything in one place as your task manager.


OK, so first of all, I want you to have a brain dump area. Now, your brain, if you're going to make it a notebook that you carry around, which is also a good idea, you can carry around a notebook. You can have one of those in the shower suction cups where you can write because a lot of us get great ideas in the shower. It seems like I have something next to your nightstand. I get a lot of ideas at night.


As soon as I'm falling asleep, something great pops into my head. And if I don't write it down and get it down the next morning, I've forgotten it. I don't even remember what it was about. So I definitely want to have someplace where you can have a brain dump area. If you use a paper planner to do that or a paper notebook, you'll want to have a place within your digital app that you can transfer those over later so you can set aside a certain time during the day or during the week to transfer anything that you've written on a paper notebook over into your digital planner.


And definitely make sure you're using the same notebook, because going back to having multiple notebooks and sticky pads everywhere, you can't remember where you wrote everything. So definitely designate one notebook, call it your brain notebook, keep it with you or close to you every time, or at least know exactly where you keep it if you want to keep it on your desk and then you always know exactly where it is. That's also a good idea. And if you're using a digital app, you also want to have a brain dump area there.


It can be a designated inbox, a designated folder, or maybe you just use tags or labels or categories that you label brain dump. So why do I suggest having a brain dump area? This is going to help you from being overwhelmed by having too many things on your active list all the time. One of the mistakes that people do with to do lists is you just dump everything on there and then you end up with this monster to do list with 50 things on it.


And it just looks overwhelming. And every time you open it up, you think, how the heck am I supposed to do all that? Nothing's prioritized. Nothing has dates on them. That's what we want to get away from. And that's why some people fail at using their to do list correctly. So use your brain dump area as your ideas area. OK, we don't want those ending up on your active to do list just yet, whenever possible.


I do want you to add due dates next to your brain dump ideas. So if you come up with an idea and it's definitely obvious when you need to do this, whether that's seasonal or by the end of the month, go ahead and jot a due date on there and then you can have it all ready to go. Whenever you sit down and go through all of your brain items, it'll be easier to prioritize and see what does need to go on your active list.


So I want you to also utilize start dates as well as due dates. Sometimes due dates are a little rigid if you utilize start dates and give yourself a certain amount of time to do them, because if they pop up on your to do list on the due date, sometimes it's already too late. Next up, I want you to set reminders and recurring tasks to show up on the correct dates. So anything that occurs weekly, monthly, however, often go ahead and transfer those in, put them on there and set it and forget it.


If you are the type of person that needs reminders, go ahead and set the reminders as well. I don't use reminders as much because I am actively looking at my my app or my to do list every day. I don't need the reminders, but if you are using this occasionally or you only check in once a week, then definitely you want to set up reminders, especially for the important items. And when I say reminders, I mean push notifications, emails, things like that, things that actively remind you to do something.


Now as you are setting up your to do list, you want to understand the organizational structure of your task system. And I am talking about folders versus tasks, things like that. Your hierarchy projects, folders, tasks. And if you're unsure of how to do this, I did create a free download for you. It's a free nine page fillable workbook. It's from episode twelve, Understanding Goal Hierarchy to properly use a task manager, and you can grab the free workbook that goes along with that episode and it breaks it down and walks you through how to designate your.


Your buckets, your labels, things like that, so if you need help setting up your task manager, definitely go ahead and grab that as well. That one is at Mirandamerten.com/12.


Apparently, I am Santa Claus today giving you all this free stuff. But I really think this is important for you to get this down and especially going into a new year. We are always looking for how are we going to get organized? How are we going to get productive. This, in my opinion, is the best way to do it. Finding a task manager that you will actually use and enjoy using and then really setting it up to work for you.


One of the last things I want to mention here is that when you add your tasks to your to do manager, go ahead and add as many details as possible, especially for your recurring tasks. It's hard to remember the specifics, you know, when you drop your tasks down. I know for me I will put a task down and a week later it pops up and it says, do this thing. But it doesn't really give the context or it doesn't explain what I was thinking.


So as much as you can jot down the contacts, jot down your ideas for it, because maybe you had a stellar idea of a new opt in and you go back and check on that task and you're not quite sure exactly what direction you wanted to take that. So that's why I recommend putting as many details as possible. When you have a recurring task, you definitely want to put as many details and steps as possible and include links whenever possible, including links within your tasks is a life changer.


I do this with a lot of my recurring tasks. I link out to the website that I have to go to. If I have, like, a pay my bills task and I list the bills in there, I also link to the website that the bills are needing to be paid on. It just saves an extra step, even if it's just 30 seconds of trying to figure out where that's at. The 30 seconds is not worth your frustration.


OK, go ahead and link out to the exact website where you do this task every single time. All right. So what are the best to do? List apps? There are so many out there. I'm not even going to tell you which one you should use. They are all different, but yet they all do the same thing. And at the end of the day, I think mostly it comes down to the interface, what you use as far as like whether you have iPhone or Android, Windows or Mac, that's going to make a difference because you do want to be able to sync it to other areas, whether you're just using their website, whether you're using an app or whether you're using a desktop application, you want to make sure it's syncs to the way you are working.


You also want to make sure that it is fast and easy to add and organize your tasks. And you want to create a system whether that's tagging, labeling or using categories and make it make sense to the way you work so you can either label them by client. So if you have 10 different clients and you tag your tasks by client or by topic like operations, admin, social media, or maybe even you just want to keep it simple and do it by time frame, like today, next or later.


You also want a task manager that offers you multiple ways to organize your lists, because we all like looking at lists differently. Some people like the Kanban board style, some people like list style. So you want to make sure that it offers you a different way to look at your lists. I use multiple things and it depends on the list as well. A chart might be good for me to look at the overall project structure of the due dates, whereas maybe I just want a simple task list for just my main tasks.


OK, so having different ways to organize your data is definitely a good feature as well. You also, like I said before, you want to make sure that it has the ability to remind you or have notifications or automations so that it pops up on your list at the specified date. You also want something that has a nice clean interface so you can easily go in there and know exactly what you're looking at. And like I said, that it sinks between all the different ways that you work best.


All right. So that is how you are going to use one task list for everything. You're going to use a brain dump list to get everything out of your head and either into one specific notebook or into one specific bucket when it comes to a digital task manager. And then you can organize it from there. You want to break them down, put due dates on them, start dates on them, and really just use it for everything. Put as much as you can in their whatever you think of you put on your task list in your task manager, put due dates, categorize, prioritize, and then the more you use it, the more intuitive it will become and the more organized and productive you will become.


So what am I using now? I told you with this title that I will let you know what I'm using now. If you go back on my tip Tuesdays, there's so many task managers that I tell you about. And really this is because, like I said, we all function differently. We all like different layouts and things like that. So this is not an endorsement of telling you what you should use, because I really believe that you should try out some different task managers and see which ones you like best, see which layout you like best and what features you need the most.


Definitely when it comes to choosing the one you want to use, I want you to list out the features that are must haves for you and then go to the task manager and see if they have that one. Because if they don't have your must have, then it's a relevant move on. Right? Right now I am using Coda.io and I will drop the link in the show notes for you. It's basically similar to Notion and it's working for my SOPs,


I'm using it for my recurring task, my podcast show notes. I use it for everything. And that's what I would recommend. If you have something that you can really utilize with your workflows as well as your tasks, it's going to make. Everything a whole lot easier, so I will link to that, like I said, down in the show notes. Also starting now and through 2021 and beyond, I will actually be building out Coda dashboards for you.


If you are interested in having me set up your operations dashboard, I will do them in Coda for you. You can take a look at that website and you can take a look at the service that I'm going to be offering. Definitely check it out. If you are already dead set with a project manager, I can organize and set up your systems for you there as well. So if you already use Asana and your team is really knee deep in there, I can definitely work with that and set that up for you.


So if you're going into 2021, you're thinking that you or your team are needing a little more organization to figure out exactly where all of your things are held. You want to move it all into one system and just become more organized and streamlined and productive, then definitely check out that service that I'll be offering down below. You can check out Mirandamerten.com/VIP to see more information about that. And that is it for this week. So what I want you to do, though, your action step for this week is going to be to decide which of your many ways for storing and using your lists works best for you.


If you're going to start with paper, if you're going to go simple with Google sheets or if you've already used a task or project manager and you want to keep with that, go ahead and pick one and use it, use it for the next 90 days. See how many things that you can pull into that one system and add as many dates and details as possible and just use it. I would love to hear how it's going for you. Check back in with you.


You can find me on Instagram at Miranda Merten. Tag me in your to do posts. I would love to see it. And that's all I have for you today. I will see you next time.


Thanks for listening to Coffee Powered Systems. You can find links to everything mentioned in the episode. Down in the show. Notes are on the website at mirandamerten.com. If you enjoyed this episode and would love to continue mastering your work flows and processes, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and join me here next time.


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