Ask the average person how they’re doing, and a typical response is “busy.” As we enter the holiday season, our world only gets busier. So much to do. So many things clamoring for our attention. So little focus on anything because of constant interruptions.

During my senior year in high school, I realized writing down everything I needed to do allowed me to focus on the one thing at hand. As an old Chinese proverb states: “The strongest mind is weaker than the palest ink.”

Two decades later, I realized tons of information was arriving digitally. The internet was starting to put the world’s knowledge a few mouse clicks away. Email was making communication simple. But both were causing me to rethink my paper-based organizational system and reliance on a paper planner.

Today, when we look up a phone number or address, most of us do so on a digital device. Gone are the days of the paper address book and updating with liquid paper. Likewise, many of us realize the advantages of keeping our calendars digitally. With Google Calendar, we share commitments with family members and co-workers with ease.

What about our to-do lists? Most people resort to sticky notes around the computer monitor and whatever scrap of paper is handy.

Going digital

My to-do list has been digital since 2001, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The ability to search and set alarms sets it apart from its paper counterpart. It handles repeating tasks and communicates with my email. I can even walk through the living room and add to the list with my voice, thanks to the Google Home Mini on the piano.

Over the years, the specific tools have changed, but the system has remained steady. This article appears now because I recently switched task managers and want to call to your attention what I am using and why.

“Remember the Milk” (RememberTheMilk.com) has been around since 2004. In 2016, they made major upgrades. It’s the one I am using now and recommend to others.

The market is full of to-do apps. Many offer similar features. The difference is often what’s included in their free account versus what’s only available in the paid version. I’m impressed by what RTM offers for free. Here are three examples:

1. Turning emails into tasks — Overwhelmed with email? How many of those emails sit day after day, week after week because they are reminders of things to do? Good task managers provide an email address. Forwarding the email to that address adds it to your list. Some services charge for that feature. RTM provides it free.

2. Sharing tasks with others — How much communication involves asking other people to do things and hoping they remember? RTM allows you to enter a task and assign it to someone else. When they accept, it’s on their list in their Remember the Milk. You can even add comments to that task. The other person can do the same.

3. Nicely-designed mobile apps — Download the app for free. What you see in RTM on your computer syncs with what’s on your phone. Complete a task? Swipe to the right on that task and it’s marked as done. Want to postpone a task to another day? Swipe left and make your selection.

More in this week’s blog post

For more information about this free service, come over to FrankBuck.org and click on the blog.

During this holiday season, you have much to remember. Now, you have help to remember the milk … and so much more.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to “Global Gurus Top 30” for 2017 and 2018 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.

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