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Why Google Sheets should be your to-do list

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I utilize Google Sheets as my to-do list.

I’ve tested a variety of applications for to-do lists–Trello, Todoist,, the list continues. The only one that hasn’t overwhelmed me or, even more made me feel overwhelmed was Google Tasks. This is what works for personal matters and reminds me to clean my house or call my dentist or make an appointment with a vet for my dog. However, at work, it’s not cutting it. It’s not flexible enough and doesn’t have enough fields that are distinct enough for complicated tasks. Google Sheets fixes that.

The app isn’t designed to function as a checklist app, but that’s exactly why I like it. It’s an app that I already use. It’s highly customizable. It also requires far less clicks than other alternatives. It’s true nobody has the time to click on a million additional times. You want to finish your work and not be juggling the tasks that you must complete.

This is how you can use an excel spreadsheet as your daily list.

The fundamental set-up

When it comes to tasks at work typically, there are two crucial things to keep track of: what you need you need to accomplish and when , and then…other items. These are the three columns on your spreadsheet:

Time and day


Other things: Links and notes

Naturally, it is possible to are able to modify the columns at any time or even add new columns.

For instance, if I plan my week’s activities by day, perhaps you don’t utilize your list of tasks as an outline, and there wouldn’t be the Day column.

Perhaps you’d like to add some kind of tags to your Google work tracker template. Add a new column to Tag. If you’re congru with your tags you can arrange or sort your spreadsheet based on this column to classify similar tasks. If you’re not as consistent — I am not 100%–you have the complete freedom to choose. The tags you use can vary from between weeks and serve as short reminders of what’s to be done.

Sometimes it’s useful to be aware of the time it will require. It’s possible to have an Time estimate column, and add the number of hours you expect to take into it. I would suggest that you use half-hour increments (i.e., .5, 1, 1.5, and so on) to ensure that you don’t end in a battle between time frames. If you have a lot in smaller projects, you can choose to use fifteen-minute intervals (i.e., .25, .5., .75, and the list goes on). It is beneficial if you wish to make sure that you’ve got enough time to finish everything. Mark those cells for the entire week, and make certain that they don’t add to more than 40.

This is only a template and you can customize it to your liking.

The last important element is to break the sheet into weeks. I employ a gray solid bar that has dates at the top of the column to visually distinguish weeks. I like to have months worth of weeks to place tasks into. Then I include an additional section in the bottom to list things which are scheduled for later on the road, namely things that will be “eventually” projects. This way I’m able to take a quick look to check out what’s in store while keeping my attention on the present and right now.

The format of the Google Sheets to-do list

The benefit of the use of Google Sheets or another spreadsheet tool to manage your list of tasks is that it offers many options for formatting. Sometimes, I alter colors of cells to signal that it’s a priority. Other times , I make it bold. Other times I simply write “IMPORTANT” the middle. Anything that works.

However, if you prefer to keep things congruous, you can pick colors that represent certain things like priority, levels of effort, kind of work, or anything else you’d like to be able to view in one glance. For instance, I will mark a row with blue when I’ll be away from the office. So I don’t overload the rest of the week. And I highlight a row in red if it’s a non-negotiable–something I have to do the day it’s scheduled because of an external deadline.

Because you’re able to use formatting options for text–something that many to-do lists don’t have–you can make your formatting as precise that you’d want. Highlight certain types of tasks, bold others or even put borders around cells. If something stands out to you visually, then go for it. You could also make use of conditional formatting to format rows that have particular words, for instance, when you want to highlight rows that contain the name of a particular person, for example, an essential client or boss.

The process

When you’re using this task-list template in Google Sheets, you’ll add tasks as they arise. Add a row, drag the task on top and then add any additional information or labels you’d like. Since moving the tasks about is just as simple as moving a row to the new place, it is easy to change the order of your priorities without switching views or clicking 12 times to get to where you’re supposed to be. Apart from adding tasks this process is easy.

1. You should strike through the text once you’re done. It is possible to use keyboard shortcuts to accomplish this. For an Mac the shortcut is command+shift+X, and on an PC the shortcut is Alt+Shift+5.

2. When you’re done with your week, make sure to hide the rows from the previous week to ensure that your current week always appears in the top position. To accomplish this simply highlight the rows that you wish to hide, click right and choose Hide rows [numbers for the selected rowsin the row you wish to hide.

It’s no surprise that I use Zapier to streamline my to-do list. My favorite Zap (our term to describe an automatic workflow among different apps) is quite simple to send every message I have saved to Slack into the Google Sheets to- do list. We’re within Slack at Zapier, so my most important tasks are either from it or my mind.

Send saved messages from Slack to Google Spreadsheets. Google Spreadsheet

Sheets + Slack from Google Sheets + Slack

More details

I’ll send an email to the Task column, and then add it also adds the URL for the Slack thread is added to note/links in that column. So I can go at the thread later in case I require more information before I finish the task. I also have particular Zaps in place for some of my routine workflows.

Of course, if are a user of email it is possible to implement the same method: for example, you could forward all emails with a particular name in your excel spreadsheet.

Save any new Gmail emails that match certain characteristics to an Google Spreadsheet

Google Sheets + Gmail Google Sheets

More details

Zapier is an automated, no-code tool that lets you join your applications to automated workflows, so that each individual and company can be moving forward with speed and efficiency.


I’m often asked queries about the system, and often the answer is “nope that’s not possible. this.” My version is easy to use and there are plenty of ways to complicate — or enhance the system. This is why I’ve included a couple of questions to help you determine whether you think the Google Sheets to-do list might be the right choice for you.

Why not use google Docs task list?

You can do it if Google Docs works for you Use it. For me, it’s too flexible. However, there are plenty of fantastic Google Docs to-do lists templates available to draw from.

Doesn’t it get cluttered?

If you keep your work from the previous week you can usually manage it. However, if you’re concerned that you’re “eventually” area is becoming lengthy or there’s a whole section of items which don’t quite make sense, you may want to include another worksheet. As an example, I’ve created the worksheet To read, to help keep a list of work-related reading. It is possible to go to this worksheet to look up an article when I need an opportunity to unwind.

You could even automate the read-it-later sheet by sending every the latest Pocket content to the worksheet.