I hate pushing Planner and To Do onto people, but they are better than nothing, and they are much better than attempting to use Outlook and Word to manage projects. I was originally going to group everything I hate about Planner and To Do in one post, but I have come back to the top to edit this paragraph because I’m thinking about even more, and I’ve not started to list those about Planner. I don’t know yet how many parts this is going to have when I’m done. So, for right now, these are a lot of the things I do not like about MS To Do.
1. Sorting sucks in To Do. I cannot sort tasks in To Do unless they are in lists I created. If they are the smart lists that aggregate from Planner (Assigned to Me) or all completed tasks or all active tasks, you cannot sort them. You can click and drag to manually move things, but who wants to do all that when you might have 50+ things at one time showing up?
2. No smart lists in To Do. I can see all, or I can see an individual list. I cannot see a grouping of 5 lists that match a particular set of criteria. The closest thing I can do is create my own hashtags and apply them to every task where they would apply and run a search on them. I can’t sort on that search though. Ugh. Now I can use the categories I created in Outlook, but there is no way for me to show a view of all tasks that match that category. At a minimum, that would be nice. If you are using the Outlook desktop client, you can get some of this by working with the tasks there instead of in To Do.
3. No start date in To Do. There are a lot of things I keep track of where I cannot start them until a date later, and I don’t want them visible until I’m in that window. I know I will need to schedule my next dental exam in November, but I don’t know my work commitments, so I’ve not set a date with my dentist yet. I don’t want that task lingering on my list until I’m close to it. I like to be able to see scheduled tasks vs unscheduled tasks. More importantly, I like to timebox my tasks in a calendar. You can do this in Outlook by dragging your To Do tasks onto your calendar and setting a start and end time, but it doesn’t really connect back to your task. If something comes up to change your schedule, it doesn’t update your task. If you move it, it doesn’t change the date. This just isn’t ideal.
4. No Calendar View. Like I said, I like to time box my tasks. If I haven’t blocked out time on my calendar to do a lot of things, they just won’t get done. If I have dragged an item onto my calendar for next month, It still shows on my task list, so I don’t have an easy way to see what I’ve time boxed and what I’ve not added to my calendar.
5. No Gantt View. If I can’t view things properly in a calendar view, I obviously can’t see things in a Gantt view, which would be nice, but again, we would need to work out which tasks would show up in that Gantt view. Would it be all lists or just one?
6. There is no kanban view either. This isn’t such a big deal for me. I wouldn’t want to look at a wall of 150 post it notes either, which is why filtering these things is so useful. I can see why the desire for this is why so many end up trying to use Planner for their personal tasks, but who wants to go and assign all of the tasks they create to themselves. It is just more work that slows you down.
7. There is no way to bulk edit or add tasks. Sometimes you get tasks sent to you in a spreadsheet because it might have been exported from MS Project. I can’t copy and paste and create a dozen new tasks. It would be great if we found out that the schedule had been pushed right for some deliverable that I could change my due dates for multiple items at one time.
8. No comments in To Do. We have the note section, but it isn’t quite the same thing. If I had a basic task, say *schedule dental cleaning*, I would like to be able to add a comment on there to say, *called on 10/28 but no answer*. It is just a way to keep things going. Again, this seems to be another reason why one would like to use Planner over To Do to manage their personal tasks.
In short, To Do is just a little better than using a pen and paper to manage your personal tasks, except that people tend to commit things to memory better when they handwrite than when they type. I guess the best benefit is being able to keep that list on you at all times since people rarely go without their phones. It is nice that flagged emails show up, but Microsoft often suggests a lot of things to be tasks that shouldn’t be when I get advertisements in my email to attend a conference or something. Or I have seen it a few times when I get a rhetorical question like, “Isn’t that crazy?” I’ll get Cortana suggesting that I reply with an answer.
There is no best task management app. There is just what is best for you. I knew a very high speed developer who used Notepad to keep track of all of his tasks. It worked for him. To Do might be sufficient for you. As for me, with ADHD and after having a concussion a couple years ago, I don’t get anything done if it hasn’t made its way onto a list of some kind to complete.
I’ll add a video after I make it.