Wouldn’t it be great to have a task list arranged so logically you could start at the top and work your way down in order? A digital task list prevents having to recopy tasks. But how can we sort tasks so they appear in the most logical order? This post shows an advanced search in Remember The Milk that provides exactly that outcome.

Sorting by Date Happens Automatically

Certainly, I want to see tasks for today together followed by the tasks for tomorrow and then followed by the tasks for the next day, etc. Remember The Milk has several pre-defined lists built-in. Clicking the Today button, Tomorrow button, and This Week button provides the chronology I am looking for.

Sorting by Priority Gives More Definition

I use the Priority field to segment my day. Remember The Milk offers four priority levels which I assign as follows:

  • Priority 1 The “Fab 5.” These are the 5 items critical to accomplish today or will give the highest payoff. I want them to stay at the top of the list throughout the day.
  • Priority 2 Tasks I want to see in the morning.
  • Priority 3 Tasks I want to see in the afternoon.
  • No Priority Tasks I want to see in the evening.

As you look at your task list in Remember The Milk, look for a cog at the top of the list and to the right. Beside it is a downward-pointing arrow. Click the arrow to reveal the ways you can sort the tasks. Choosing “Sort by priority” puts the Fab 5 at the top followed by the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Could We Have Sections? Advanced Search Provides That

Perhaps you have seen task managers allowing for various sections within the day. These sections would organize different types of tasks. In the example below, you see an afternoon divided into sections for phone calls, “expect to receive” items, and tasks related to a co-worker named Joe.

With other task managers, organizing tasks into those sections means dragging and dropping tasks. That’s not bad. But in Remember The Milk, it’s easier.

What “sections” would you want to see within your morning, afternoon, or evening? Start by creating a tag for each one. If “Joe” is a close co-worker and you generally have a few tasks related to him, create a joe tag and assign that tag to all tasks related to him.

Second, we will create an “advanced search.” This option is available in the Remember The Milk Pro Plan and provides another reason to upgrade. Return to the downward-pointing arrow beside the cog. Scroll to Sort by advanced. Choose New. Here is how I constructed mine:

This sort retains Priority as being the primary sort order. The Fab 5 will be at the top. Evening tasks will be at the bottom. Within each of those segments, tasks are listed according to their tags. All phone calls for the afternoon will be together. All tasks for the afternoon related to Joe will be together. Items I am expecting to receive and want to review in the afternoon will be listed together. I now have exactly what the diagram you saw earlier showed. With my setup, I’m not having to manually drag or drop anything. I assign a due date, priority, and tag when I create the task. Remember The Milk automatically handles the rest.

Notice one more criterion: due date. That one is optional. All else being equal, a phone call for the afternoon with a due date of two days ago would sort higher than a phone call for this afternoon with today’s date.

A Little Voice Magic

Batching is an amazing time management practice. Instead of interrupting Joe to ask one question, put it on the list and when you see Joe anyway, run through the five or six questions you have accumulated. Instead of running one errand, let them accumulate and run them back-to-back.

Think about the rhythm of your week. I will give three examples.

Running Errands

First, Saturday is a good day for me to run errands. When a new errand comes up, my default practice is to assign it a date of the upcoming Saturday. Second, I like to look at my “expect to receive” items on Friday afternoon. Sure, there will be some items I will handle sooner. But for the routine, non-urgent items, a due date of Friday and a Priority 3 (afternoon) is the place for that item.

What if I told you I can create the task, assign the date, assign the part of the day, and assign the tag all with my voice?

Using Google Assistant, I can say, “OK Google. Trip. Pick up shirts at the cleaners.” In Remember The Milk, I will see a task that says, “Pick up shirts at the cleaners.” Its due date will be the upcoming Saturday. Its priority will be Priority 3. It will have a tag of trip.

I accomplish this automation using If This Then That. The link I just gave you takes you to my dozen most powerful If This Then That applets. Using IFTTT with Remember The Milk does require the RTM Pro account.

When I say “OK Google” and then the word “trip,” that keyword (“trip”) puts IFTTT in motion to run that particular applet. Whatever I say after “trip” becomes the name of the task. IFTTT automatically adds this text after the task name: ^sat !3 #trip and sends it to Remember The Milk.

Batching “ETR” Tasks

Likewise, I can say “OK, Google. Expect to receive Amazon order.” When Google Assistant hears “expect to receive,” that triggers an IFTTT applet. That applet creates a new task for Remember The Milk. Whatever I say after “expect to receive” becomes the name of the task. IFTTT automatically adds this text after the task name: ^fri !3 #etr and sends it to Remember The Milk.

Tasks to Discuss with Spouse

To give just one more example, during the day, I think of things to talk to my wife about. I want to batch these items and discuss them with her when she gets home in the evening. So, if I want to talk with her about planning a trip to the zoo, I just say, “OK Google. Davonia. Plan trip to the zoo.”

An IFTTT applet I created hears the word “Davonia” and runs that applet. The applet creates a new RTM task. Whatever I say after “Davonia” becomes the name of the task. IFTTT automatically adds this text after the task name: ^today !4 #davonia and sends it to Remember The Milk. On the Today page, I scroll to Priority 4 and see the items tagged davonia listed together.

You Can Do This Too

If you are interested in creating tasks with your voice, I have a free downloadable ebook. You can get it here.

A good system makes it easy to trap the tasks you need to do. Then, it organizes the items so you can handle them the most efficiently. At that point, you can dive into a successful day.