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Different people have different techniques to get organized. I think a lot of it has to do with your psychology. Maybe you’re a more graphical type who likes graphs and charts that display your projects’ progress over time. Or maybe, like me, you work best with lists where you can complete tasks and get the satisfaction of drawing a big black “done” line across it.

A few months ago, I wrote about one of the organizational tools I use – Yahoo Calendar Organize Your Life With Yahoo Calendar Organize Your Life With Yahoo Calendar Read More . Varun also recently wrote about Springpad Organize Your Life With Springpad Organize Your Life With Springpad Read More , a very cool personal organizer.

These tools are all great, but one of the most effective ways that I’ve found to keep myself on task every day is to generate printable to do lists to get organized every morning. As the day goes by, I cross each item off the list and then update the system at night? What system, you ask? For years now, I’ve used a nifty application called iDailyDiary.

How To Use To-Do Lists To Get Organized

It probably isn’t the most “green” method one can use to get organized. I’m sure environmentalists wouldn’t be very happy to know that I print out a to-do list on paper every day. But when it comes to remembering things, there are only so many places you can bring a laptop or a PDA.

iDailyDiary is essentially a rich text editor embedded into a calendar scheduling tool. It defaults to a somewhat cheesy notebook background, but I’ve gotten used to it and never bothered changing it.

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The interface looks a lot like Wordpad, but as you can see, there are embedded calendars and scheduling features throughout. Every day that you log in, you’ll find today’s date displayed at the top along with the to-do list that you have created for that specific day.

iDailyDiary Features

The formatting features aren’t rocket science by any stretch, but they do offer a few cool items that allow you to add a little bit of style and flexibility to your lists, such as inserting links to to-do lists for other pages that may be related to the present task. Maybe you’ve done something similar before, or you need to follow-up on a previous task.

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Another simple feature that adds some convenience is the ability to add hyperlinks to resources or informational sites that might help with completing that particular task.

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The ability to interlink the various date pages as well as outside web pages has saved me a tremendous amount of time in cases where I’m trying to remember how I did something, or whether or not I eventually followed up on a phonecall or email. Other useful editing features include highlighting, font formatting, and embedding images into your list.

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With all of these formatting and editing features, you’ll be able to create to-do lists that extend far beyond your standard list. It certainly expanded my horizons when I graduated from cramming my daily lists into Notepad, up to using such a simple, graphical application to manage my daily projects.

The Integrated Calendar System

The aspect of this software that makes it the most useful is the fact that it’s built upon a calendar. For every single day, you can have as many tabs as data as you like. I’m a simple guy, and I like having a single tab that I use. However, some people are far more functional and like to separate tasks into categories like “work” or “home.”

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You can add a tab quickly by clicking on the “add tab” icon at the top, and then renaming it by right-clicking and selecting “Rename Page Tab.” Also, at the very bottom of the application window, there’s a cool bar display of the monthly calendar.

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Navigating through your schedule from one day’s to-do list to the next is as easy as clicking on the date. Keep in mind that while I certainly use the application as a massive collection of daily to-do lists, the name of the application is iDailyDiary – so if you like, instead of organizing your daily entries in the form of a list, you could always simply use it as a personal electronic diary system where you can keep track of tasks accomplished, phone conversations, important email notes and more.

Exporting and Printing

Such an application that is meant to help you organize your life is only as good as the external “things” you can do with it. In this respect, iDailyDiary holds up because you can export your daily logs to a decent list of external formats.

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Save your lists as a rich text file, unicode, HTML or even HTML with CSS.  This means you could export your entries to your website or blog if you so desire. And of course, the feature that I use every single day is the ability to print out your to-do lists. Clicking on the Printer icon allows you to quickly print out your list exactly how you’ve formatted it in the daily window.

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It works especially nice if you have a color printer that can display the images and different colors of highlighting. In any case, it certainly beats my old school plain to-do lists of the past. Some day, I might even consider loading my iDailyDiary to-do list HTML files over to my mobile device… and go paperless *gasp*!  Maybe… Some day.

Do you live your life strictly by a daily to-do list? Do you have any cool applications or online tools that you use to keep track of them? Share your own resources with the MakeUseOf community in the comments section below!

Don’t forget to check out other to-do apps we’ve written about before here on MakeUseOf:
Get Rid of Your Overloaded Anxiety With Anxiety – Mac Only Get Rid of Your Overloaded Anxiety With Anxiety - Mac Only Get Rid of Your Overloaded Anxiety With Anxiety - Mac Only Read More
4 Adobe AIR ToDo List Apps For Managing Your Tasks 4 Adobe AIR ToDo List Apps For Managing Your Tasks 4 Adobe AIR ToDo List Apps For Managing Your Tasks Read More
Five Great Online To-Do Lists You Should Check Out Five Great Online To-Do Lists You Should Check Out Five Great Online To-Do Lists You Should Check Out Read More

Image credit: jessica mullen

  1. Ryan Dube
    July 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Hey myown, thanks for your comment. Yes, you could (and I do) use applications like Excel to get organized. But as a daily journal I like iDailyDiary because of the easy navigation through the calendar bar at the bottom. None of the office apps (as far as I've seen, yet) have that along with an simple/easy-to-use interface for jotting down notes and making lists with hyperlinks, interlinks, etc...

  2. myown
    July 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Cant you just use Exel\open office or sometihing in that package instead of this 3rd party stuff ?

  3. Chris
    July 16, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Great lists. I use Gmail Task Lists, and after creating a new list I click "Actions" --> "Print Task List". It is excellent for Groceries shopping.

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