We all have things to do. Lots of things to do.
Probably too many things to do. Some of them need to be done on a specific date, others just need to get done when we get the chance.
There are a lot of systems available to help you keep track of your to-do lists. Some are on paper, like the Franklin-Covey planner or David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
Other systems are PC-based, like Microsoft Outlook. Some handheld devices have good task managers, such as Palm or Windows Mobile devices.
There are many ways to track your to-do list. In our increasingly Internet-based society, it’s not surprising that there is a web-based task manager, called Remember the Milk.
Remember the Milk (RTM) is a free web-based to-do list manager at www.rememberthemilk.com. It just takes a moment to create an account, then you can start building your tasks lists. You can have any number of lists, organized in whatever fashion best suits you.
This fits with the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy, where you organize your tasks onto lists by context. The context is where you need to be in order to perform the task, or what resources you need available. For example if you have a task list with the context of Phone, this will have items that you can only accomplish when a telephone is available. Whether that means a phone at your desk where you take notes or a cell phone as you stroll through the park is up to you.
You might have a list called Web, of items that you need to when you are sitting at a computer with an Internet connection. Or a list called Errands, with things to do when you’re out and about. And of course you would have a list for things that you need to do at work.
As an example, I have a list for articles I plan to write for HAL-PC, another list for articles to write about in my blog (www.charlesolsen.com), one for topics to cover in my podcast (www.mintcast.org), and a list called Personal where I keep day-to-day reminders like when to pay each bill.
The items on your lists can include due dates if you need that, but it’s not required. With pure GTD lists, you generally don’t include due dates as dated items should go on the calendar. You can use your RTM lists in GTD style, or add due dates to some or all of the items.
If you do set a due date on an item, you can also set a recurrence. For example, tasks can recur daily, weekly, monthly by date (for example, on the 15th of each month) or by day (for example, the second Wednesday each month), etc.
There are three ways to add tasks. You can add, edit and delete tasks while logged in to the RTM web site. Here you can set dates, recurrence, priority, add tags, notes, location and URL. You can also add contacts, and then you can send tasks to your contacts.
When you sign up for RTM, you are assigned an email address. Any emails sent to this address will automatically create new tasks, with the subject of the email as the title of the task, and the body of the email becomes the note for the task. These tasks are created on a list called Inbox, but you can easily move them to other lists.
If you use Firefox, there is a Remember the Milk add-on for Gmail. The functionality is somewhat limited in the add-on, but you can add tasks from your Gmail screen, as well as postpone or delete tasks. If you need to do anything more sophisticated, there’s also an option in the Gmail add-on to open the task in RTM.
Remember the Milk is free, but there’s also a Pro version you can upgrade to for $25 a year. In a Pro account, you get:
- Priority support via email
- RTM for iPhone and iPod touch
- MilkSync for BlackBerry
- MilkSync for Windows Mobile
- Pro Tester Program
The Pro Tester Program means “... you’ll be given access to pre-release versions of new Remember The Milk features to try out. We’ll invite you to provide feedback on these new features, as well as help us by reporting any problems that you encounter.”
In the old days, we called this “beta testing.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
If you have things to do, Remember the Milk is a great way to help keep track of them.
Charles Olsen is a writer, trainer and IT professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more articles at www.charlesolsen.com, and listen to the mintCast podcast at www.mintcast.org.
© 2008 by Charles M. Olsen