When it comes to getting your life organized, there are two indispensable tools: your calendar and your to-do list. Knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it ensures that nothing gets forgotten.
But most task management solutions keep these two things separate. Sure, you can see your due dates in your to-do list app, but wouldn’t it be nicer to see them on your calendar, where all of your events are listed?
Here’s how you can. In the examples below, we’ll be using Google Calendar.
Why Google Calendar?
First, because it’s extremely popular. Almost everyone already has a personal or professional Gmail account, and that means they have Google Calendar, too.
Second, because Google Calendar can sync with just about anything. If you prefer to use iCal, you can easily sync them up. Fantastical? The Windows calendar? No problem. Syncing them can be done in a couple easy steps. For this reason, Google Calendar is a great central place to manage your task list.
And last but not least, Google Calendar works with both IFTTT and Zapier, which means you can make it work with almost any other app.
The Easiest Option: Google Tasks
As you might expect, Google’s own Tasks app is tightly integrated with Google Calendar. It’s not an advanced task management system, and it doesn’t offer a whole lot of features. But if you just need a place to jot down what you need to do and you want to see due dates in your calendar, it’ll do the job.
To access Tasks, go to calendar.google.com and click Tasks under My Calendars in the left sidebar. If you don’t see the link for Tasks, click the down arrow next to Reminders and select Switch to Tasks.
You’ll now see your task list displayed to the right of the calendar, as well as reminders on the days you set your tasks to be due.
You can also open Tasks in Gmail by clicking the dropdown menu in the top-left (it says “Mail” when you’re looking at your inbox). Tasks shows up much like an instant message.
And if you want to see Tasks in full size, go to mail.google.com/tasks/canvas. You won’t get any more features, but you do get a full tab to work with.
In any view, click the right-facing arrow next to a task to add a due date. You can also add notes or assign it to a specific list. Once you’ve assigned a due date, you’ll see that task displayed on Google Calendar. It’s as simple as that.
Syncing Your To-Do List With Google Calendar
Are you using a different task manager already (perhaps one of the best Mac reminder apps)? There’s a good chance that you can sync it with Google Calendar. I’m currently using Remember the Milk, for example, and I can sync it just by adding the Google Calendar gadget:
Wunderlist is similarly easy. Just open the app and head to Preferences > Account. From there, you can click Calendar Feed: Connect. It might open another calendar app, but you can copy and paste the calendar feed URL into Google Calendar to sync it up.
Most other task management apps have some sort of calendar integration as well. Trello has its own calendar view. Evernote can sync with calendar and task-list apps.
For almost any task management system, there’s a good way to sync it with Google Calendar built right in. Just consult the app’s documentation to find out how to sync it up.
Going the Custom Way: Using an Automation Service
If your system isn’t currently amenable to syncing with Google Calendar, you do have another option. Zapier and IFTTT can connect a huge number of apps together, and many of them allow you to sync up Google Calendar. For example, here are the task list and project management apps that Zapier supports:
- Google Tasks
- Week Plan
- Remember the Milk
- Zenkit (beta)
Setting up an automation using Zapier or IFTTT is super easy. In most cases, there’s already one that’s been created, and all you need to do is add it to your account. Here’s one that adds Evernote reminders to your Google Calendar:
Other to-do-type apps can be integrated, too. IFTTT lets you add your follow-up reminders from Followup.cc to Google Calendar so you can always see who you need to be emailing and when.
And with multi-step zaps, you’re really only limited by your imagination.
A Completely Different Option
If you’re a fan of time blocking and highly specific scheduling, you might be interested in Sorted, a new app that makes it easy to schedule all of your tasks in a day. Just add your tasks, use gestures to reorganize them, and you’ll see when you need to get your things done.
As of right now, Sorted doesn’t support syncing with Google Calendar. However, the developers have stated that calendar integration is very high on their list of features to add. Until then, however, you could use Sorted as your primary calendaring app.
How Do You Stay in Sync?
There are plenty of ways to sync your to-do list with Google Calendar. The degree to which you want to sync it and how many details you’d like to share between the two, however, depends largely on your own personal task management system.
If you need a lot of details, syncing a powerful app like Omnifocus (a great GTD app) or Producteev might be the way to go. Like to keep things simple? Google Tasks or Wunderlist might be more your style. Beyond to-do lists, you can also sync Google Calendar with other calendar services. For example, you can use a third-party app to sync Google Calendar with Microsoft Outlook.
How do you keep your tasks and your calendar in sync? Which are your favorite apps? Share your thoughts in the comments below!