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Admin Pro Forum

Bring out your to-do list! What form does yours take?

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Question: "Everyone seems to have a different way of creating their to-do lists. I've always been interested in how they go about it, and what their lists actually look like. Am I the only one who just scrawls things in a big notebook and messily crosses them out? How many people use Excel, Outlook, sticky notes, legal pads, posters, whiteboards or even emails to themselves? Is there some method that seems to work wonders for admins?" - Joe, Editorial Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to editor@adminprotoday.com.


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate April 20, 2017 at 4:21 pm

I guess I am the odd duck – it’s all in my head.


Heidi Hoefler April 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

I create a To Do List in Outlook Calendar each morning and put the must absolutely get done that day in a different font color. All my tasks to get done I receive electronically so this method seems to work best. I also use OneNote if I have a project I’m working on that has different phases to the project. I keep all related emails together this way.


Kymberly Brown April 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I have tried MANY different ways to track my AR’s (Action Required)…Tasks in Outlook, that didn’t work for me; Adding Tasks in the free space ON the calendar, didn’t work for me as I lose 1/4 of my calendar space-wise, so I’ve been looking for a new way to keep track of To-Do’s. Writing it down in a notebook, which worked for most of my career, until I got crazy busy. MS Post It notes on the desktop, didn’t work for me as I really needed to see them all day long and they hide behind other windows that are open. Currently, besides the reminders at the top of my Outlook calendar, I am using my Livescribe Pen and their Notebooks. In real time it goes into a file that I can access from my phone, desktop, or iPad. It also is a recording device, great for taking meeting minutes! I also use my phone calendar that is linked to my work Outlook calendar for when I think of things on the fly. But I did get an idea from someone above about printing out an Excel List every Friday. I am going to try that and use my Livescribe pen and notebook. Wish me luck!


Meaghan Ritchey April 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

I use Outlook tasks to keep track of my to-do list. I can make notes and track my progress. I can also list if the task is started, in progress, or waiting on someone else. If I set an end date, then I get reminders if I forget to do something.


Jessica April 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

I use a planner. I like the At-A-Glance Academic Weekly/Monthly planner ($40). It has tabbed months and weeks with days and lines to put in your to-do’s. I organize everything by day and move things over to the next day if I do not get them done. I also plan out my to-do’s for the month on the monthly calendar and fill in the day of when I plan to start those projects. I think it is a bit old school because it is not electronic but I find it helpful in meetings when I am asked where I am on certain projects and I can give them an exact day it was completed or when no one can remember the date of an event. I just flip to the month and there you go instead of searching your phone.


Diana March 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm

I never go anywhere without paper and pen. As soon as I find out about a project or task, I jot notes. It doesn’t matter if they are neat; it matters that I have all the info. Then I add the tasks into my Outlook calendar with due dates and ticklers allowing myself plenty of buffer. I maintain a running to-do list, also in my Outlook calendar, as a regular meeting planner. In the body of the planner, I use bullets to create a simple outline, listing everything in order of importance. I can delete things when finished and can add new items in the proper order. I review my list throughout the day and move it to the next day before I leave. I never need to worry about where the information is or what page I need to refer to in a notebook. I get the information out of my head and onto paper first thing; this frees up my head for the next things coming. Keeping everything in Outlook assure me that my notes will always be in front of me, easy to find and access. I can also copy my outline notes and paste into Word in preparation for a meeting with my boss. If he gives me more tasks, I write directly on my outline, put the word “DO” and circle it, then go back and update my calendar and my list.


Kymberly Brown April 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

I really like the way you do your to do’s. I have tried several different methods and lately, adding Tasks to Outlook is clogging up my calendar! Too many. I have tried to add meetings to my calendar to get specific to do’s done, but I kept moving them. Having a running to do list and then moving it to the next day, is an excellent idea!


Trace' March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

I have multiple ways of trying to remember everything. 1. Monthly calendar binder to jot down events, due dates, pay periods, notes, etc. forecasted for a year. I carry this with me everywhere. Keep it. for a couple years. 2. Weekly emails are flagged and marked complete when done. Keeping open items in my email inbox helps remind me to follow up on ongoing items, no deadline stuff, etc. 3. Daily lists: personal life, and work life. We use so much paper here that we try to use both sides so when we are done with one side we flip it over and cut them down to half sheets for making lists. Everyday I make a list of the most important things to do the next day, and cross them off when I complete it. I am going to start keeping this and doing an end of year analysis for the next years projections. I make lists for my personal life and clip it to the monthly binder.


Stephanie March 10, 2017 at 10:15 am

I do use a big 5 subject notebook but for meetings with my boss and others in the office – they each have their own tab and I highlight when a task is done. When I write out a task I make a star next to it to draw my attention to it. I have some things in Outlook but the thing I use the most, and have for many years, is an Excel To-Do list that I print out every Friday so it ready for the start of my week. For each day of the week I list the recurring tasks I have to make sure I do so i can check them off as done. I also have a separate section on the side for things that are regularly done monthly and quarterly so I don’t forget them and a section for new bigger projects so I can work on them as I can fit them in. I have always found that writing things down make them stay top of mind.


Judith March 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

I like this idea. I have 3.5 bosses and that would help keep their projects organized if nothing else! Thanks!


Kymberly Brown April 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I really like the Excel To-Do list idea and print it out every Friday. I also use a Livescribe pen and notebooks with Tabs for each manager and a misc one for the odd things.


Lynn March 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

For my regular daily/weekly/monthly tasks, those are keyed right into my Outlook calendar. Each then pops up and reminds me to complete the task, and I can snooze or dismiss as needed/completed. For the extra instructions from my bosses, those are written down on a legal pad during our 1x1s, and checked off as completed. Needless to say, there’s always more work in the pile on my desk than there are hours in the day, but it works for me.


Carol March 9, 2017 at 8:43 pm

I use Outlook’s Tasks for recurring tasks but I use a notebook where I can quickly list things and cross them off as I complete them for non-recurring tasks. This seems to work really well for me.


Tesstarosa March 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm

I’ve used two methods:

1. Write everything down in a notebook and when the task is done, I highlight it (that way, if I need to refer back, I can still read what I did.)

2. Use the Task List in Outlook to track all tasks. This is what I’ve used most recently. I like it because I can set it up for manage recurring events — weekly bagel order, bi-monthly check run, etc. — and well as individual tasks. Plus I can just move emailed requests over to the task list without losing information. I do still use a notebook for meetings with people to record what tasks I need to do, but transfer them to the Outlook task list with a priority and deadline and hihglight it in my notebook when I’ve done the transfer.


Jackqueline March 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm

My to-do-list is in Outlook, Calendar. I use an excel spreadsheet to track where a job is upto and it is in our shared drive for all to view if I am away. We are a small team who are not always in the same office and if anyone needs to know where we are upto on a project they can look at the spreadsheet.


Jenny March 9, 2017 at 4:55 pm

I take advantage of the Microsoft Office Suite and use the Outlook Tasks for To-Do’s that you’d normally use a post-it for as well as for notes. I categorize them, prioritize them, and set reminders similar to calendar meetings.


Lisa March 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm

I use a combination of Outlook Calendar (for recurring items) and an old-school spiral notebook. I’ve tried pretty much everything and have found that this works best for me. I also use blank pages in my spiral to track pending items, RSVPs, etc.


John March 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

I hired an Admin Asst to track my to do list.


Kymberly Brown April 5, 2017 at 2:47 pm



Lynn Picott March 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I have tried everything from OneNote to Task Manager to Trello, and I still go back to my notebook. It’s portable, needs no WI-FI and I can take it anywhere. I think if you find something that works for you…stick to it! Sometimes we make ourselves miserable trying to do something that “someone else” does. Do what makes YOU productive!


Cathy March 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Joe, In the past, I used a college-ruled tablet with all my projects scrawled on it; tried an Excel spreadsheet; reminded myself in emails, etc. When I attended a seminar on managing multiple projects and deadlines, one of the things I took away from it was using Outlook’s Calendar. Like Mark, I didn’t like Outlook’s Task feature but I found the calendar to be easiest and most reliable way to keep track of everything I have to do. It’s pretty easy to set up reminders for things you do daily, weekly, & monthly. I don’t know how I managed before I started using it!


Heather Parrish March 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm

I use GQueues – since I use Google apps both personally and for work, it is awesome. Make tasks directly from emails, websites, enter manually, attach emails, documents, etc to the task, multiple lists, multiple tags, assign tasks to others, reminders, integrates with Google calendar, accessible from any internet connected device.


Sheila Brown March 9, 2017 at 4:06 pm

I use the Task feature in outlook, a week at a time. I can easily add items, when they are done, I can cross them off. If I need to print it, I can. Things that are left at the end of the week can easily be copied over to the next to do list. Also, I have a record of what I have done.


DeeDee March 9, 2017 at 4:06 pm

I tried my hardest to use a bullet journal method but found that to be so over the top with the listing, moving, and re-writing things that I finally resorted to an old fashioned graph type pad of paper and writing down my to-do for the next day in the last half hour of the day. Anything not completed that day is re-evaluated for deadlines and relevancy, then added or deleted from the next day’s to-do list. I was tossing those out at first, but then decided I needed to keep then in a folder as a means of tracking and validating what I accomplish each day.


Cindy March 9, 2017 at 4:04 pm

One Note works good for me. And I can share with my boss so he knows what’s been done.


Heidi Hoefler April 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

Can you share more how you use OneNote? I am new to the program and have put tasks in there, although I don’t feel I’m using it to it’s fullest potential.


Valarie March 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I am a write it down and put it on a “sticky note”. I love the Microsoft sticky note and its always on my desktop looking at me. I keep a running list and just mark off as they are completed.


Mark March 9, 2017 at 9:27 am

I use Outlook religiously. However, I learned over time to never use the “task” aspect of Outlook, and instead put everything on the calendar. I find that for myself, I am far more productive if I assigned tasks to specific times via the calendar rather than just having a list on the task portion of the program.


Tamera March 9, 2017 at 4:57 pm

I use OneNote and Outlook for my To Do lists, as well as tracking items that need a follow-up.


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