Why Google Calendar Tasks Is the Only To-Do App You Need

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In early 2018, Google migrated all users to their newest version of Google Calendar. Google Tasks is now more integrated with Google Calendar. This makes a powerful combination that could potentially replace any other to-do apps you might use.

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One of the more annoying things about using an external to-do app if you’re a Google Calendar user is keeping your calendar synced with your to-do app. There are ways to sync many of the most popular apps out there, but none are very convenient.

Instead: Why not keep your to-do list and your calendar all in one, well-organized place?

Viewing Google Tasks Alongside Google Calendar

If you haven’t customized Google Calendar, the default view looks fairly plain (if not a little bit boring).

default google calendar

This boring facade is deceptive. Enabling Google Tasks adds a degree of functionality you might not expect.

Google Tasks used to be one of the worst to-do apps online. To integrate more useful features, you had to install a browser add-on like GTasks. But the newest version of Google Tasks How the New Google Tasks Helps You Manage Your To-Do List How the New Google Tasks Helps You Manage Your To-Do List Google Tasks has a fresh new look. It is just as easy to organize your to-dos in your Gmail inbox. Read More is much more useful.

It’s only when you use it alongside Google Calendar that it becomes clear it could be the last to-do app you ever need.

You can open up Google Tasks by clicking on its icon on the right side of Google Calendar.

enable google tasks

This docks Google Tasks on the side of Google Calendar.

Once this is enabled, you’re ready to start building your various task lists.

dock google tasks

But before we get to that, you need to enable Google Tasks integration with Google Calendar.

You do this in the navigation menu on the left side of Google Calendar. Click the checkbox to enable Tasks inside of the calendar.

enable google tasks

Now that everything is enabled, it’s time to set up and organize your tasks.

If you use some other to-do app like Todoist or RememberTheMilk, I recommend going through the process below to transfer those tasks over.

By using the techniques below, Google Tasks and Google Calendar can do everything those apps can do, plus more.

How to Create Google Task Lists

A lot of the power of this combination comes from how you organize your tasks inside Google Tasks.

If you haven’t read how to combine goal apps with to-do apps Achieve Your Goals by Combining a Goal App and a To-Do App Achieve Your Goals by Combining a Goal App and a To-Do App A goal app and a to-do app can give you powerful results when you combine them to meet your big dreams. Read More , take some time to do so now. It’ll help you create and organize your Google Task lists.

Gather your lists of goals you want to accomplish, and their associated list of tasks to accomplish them. Then, create a single list for every one of those high level goals.

create new list

Inside these lists is where you create the sub-goals.

Sub-goals are added as regular tasks. You’ll add their individual subtasks inside them.

goals and subgoals

Click on the subgoal, and then list all of the steps you need to take to accomplish it.

With Google Tasks, this is easy. Press the edit icon to open the sub-goal. You just type each one and press Enter to type the next.

creating tasks

Finally, give each of these subtasks realistic due dates.

Remember, that you’ll be loading all your goals and their tasks into Google Calendar. So taking everything you’re planning to accomplish into consideration will ensure realistic due dates.

You’ll notice that you can’t add a due date to subtasks when you first create them. You need to go back up to the main list level, and add them there. Add the due date here by clicking on the edit icon for that task.

adding due date to subtasks

Add the due date on this page.

When you click on Add date, it’ll give you a pop-up calendar to choose the date.

subtask due date

Something important to consider as you’re adding dates is that you should use the “start” date for when you want to start working on the task. This is where every other to-do app out there fails.

This is the first major benefit of using this approach over other to-do apps. Most apps will place your task in the priority to-do list based on when they’re due.

The neat Google Tasks integration with Google Calendar solves this problem.

How to Use Google Tasks Inside Google Calendar

When you enabled Tasks in the left navigation menu, it adds every task due date into the calendar.

You’ll see your tasks listed at the top of each day they’re due.

tasks due in calendar

This visual display is also helpful to reveal if you’ve overloaded any particular day during the week.

At the beginning of each week, preferably on Sunday, you can shift tasks around to level out the weekly workload.

You do this by clicking on any of the task items at the top of the calendar. Then click on the edit icon and change the due date.

edit task due date

This is the second benefit over other to-do apps. Most to-do apps don’t provide a visual calendar inside the app itself, so it’s difficult to plan your workload. It’s also not this seamless to shift tasks around on-the-fly based on your visual workload.

After you change the due date, it automatically moves that task to the new date in the calendar.

automatic task shifting

Every morning, you can use the layout of your work from Google Tasks to block off the times during the day when you plan to work on them.

You could do this on Sunday for the entire week. But sticking to planning your day in the morning gives you more flexibility. This way, if something unexpected happens and you need to shift around tasks to another day, you don’t have to rework your entire calendar because of it.

Whichever frequency you choose, this regular review follows the important 80/20 rule of time management.

organize each day

This is the third major benefit over other to-do apps. With most apps, your daily to-do list is automatically laid out based on due dates.

With this visual approach, you’ll see quickly whether or not you actually have enough hours in the day to accomplish the list.

More Google Task Management Tips

It can take some time to get used to this visual approach to task management, especially if you’re used to the old-fashioned list-based to-do task method.

A few more tips:

Using Google Tasks and Google Calendar in this way keeps the most important tasks in front of you every day. If you aren’t satisfied with this combination, no problem. You have many other cross-platform to-do list apps and unique productivity apps to choose from!

If you’re looking for more ideas to stay productive, check out productivity life hacks from Reddit The 7 Best Productivity Life Hacks From Reddit That Work The 7 Best Productivity Life Hacks From Reddit That Work Buried in the ocean of Reddit conversations are real-world life hacks. Let's filter some of them to improve our productivity. Read More that really work. Having a great to-do scheduling strategy is only the first step. There’s much more that goes into making sure you’re focusing on the most important things at the right time!

Explore more about: Google Calendar, Google Tasks, Task Management, Time Management, To-Do List.

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  1. Jeff Wright
    April 9, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    A jaw dropping omission by the developers of the new Google Tasks. You can't print it.

  2. Bert Long
    April 5, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I would agree with your original statement until Google abandoned many of the previously-supported views for Google Tasks. Using it as a sidebar for Calendar and Email only is a horrible presumption, and many folks will be looking at other todo list applications or at least UIs

    Have been using Google Tasks for about a decade, and now shopping around.

  3. James
    March 12, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    "For recurring tasks (like workouts), instead of completing the task, reschedule them" isn't really a recurring task, it's a rescheduled task. I really wanted the option to recur tasks independent of an app or Chrome extension so I wrote a Google script. Tasks will recur regardless of what you use to manage your task lists (phone, computer, etc.). It will take about 5 minutes of setup, but it has been working great for me. You have the following recurrence options:

    - every XX days/weeks/months/years after completion
    - weekly on a specific day (e.g., Tuesday)
    - monthly on a specific date (e.g., 28th)
    - annually on a specific date (August 28th)

    One thing I don't have (which I haven't found a need for), is recurrence on a specific day of the week in a given week of the month (e.g., 3rd Tuesday of the month). I suppose if there is enough demand, I might add it.

    You can get it on Github. Please follow the setup and syntax instructions explicitly.


  4. Scott
    October 11, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Two reasons that I won't use Google Tasks:

    1. No integration with IFTTT

    2. Google's abysmal record of discontinuing services (which can happen with any unpaid service, I realize)

  5. john
    October 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I have been struggling with integrated tasks/todos/calendar for years. Only problem with what you have is the google calendar ios/android app does not show tasks. It does show google reminders though.

    Google Reminder
    Pros: google cal app, google cal webapp, google assistant, notification at set time, incomplete reminders carry over to next day (my workflow is to look at the list every couple days and reschedule them)
    Cons: no api so no alexa support, no description field on reminders (just title which is horrible for a list or URL)

    Google Tasks
    Pros: google cal webapp, google assistant, description and subtasks
    Cons: no google cal app, no reminders at certain time, incomplete tasks stay on the set day
    api? alexa support?

    Thank you for the post, always searching for a better solution.

    • Ricardo Borges
      October 15, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      John, your resume is perfect!

    • Michael Jones
      January 11, 2019 at 9:21 pm

      Actually, you can install the Google Calendar app on android/ios, and can also enable the Tasks view within the Calendar

      • Aprianto Nursetiawan
        February 24, 2019 at 3:40 pm

        There's the problem, you can't enable Tasks view on the mobile app. It's only available in the web version. Google and its inconsistency.