Suppose you’ve got a checklist of things. Should you use Note’s checklist or Reminders?

Where do these tasks go?

If you use Notes for managing checklists of tasks, you’re missing out on setting deadlines, location-based alerts, etc. But sometimes creating Reminders can be a pain, especially if copying from somewhere like iBooks. To my knowledge, you can’t grab a snippet of text from iBooks and set a reminder.

Solution: Start with Notes, end with Reminders

Here’s something I’ve tried: use Notes to create a basic checklist, but if then if these are tasks you need to do and need to be “reminded” of them, convert them to individual Reminders.

Did I mention I’m certified in project mismanagement?

I often make the mistake of mixing my tasks, events and information into a mismanaged mess. Reading “Do More Better” by Tim Challies helped me out quite a bit to understand the importance of using the right tools for the right job. Sure, you can use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, and you could use a knife to screw in a bolt, but there are better tools built for the job.

So now I try to strictly use:

I don’t use Reminders for storing information or tracking events. I don’t use Calendar for managing tasks. And I don’t use Notes for any events or task management unless it’s a backlog of ideas I need to jot down.

I mentioned that I was reading “48 Days to the Work You Love” and going through the daily assignments. I started by exporting the assignments to Notes to create a basic checklist, but then I noticed I was going to run into the same problem I always do: I put a list of to-dos in Notes, and then forget to do them.

Aren’t there better apps out there to manage this?

Short answer: yes. Absolutely. Todoist*, which Tim Challes mentions in his book comes to mind. Microsoft and Google have their own sets of apps out there with advantages and disadvantages.

But another pitfall that I sometimes fall into is chasing after the new shiny thing that promises to make things better. The last time I went through a major job search in late 2016, I was using a CRM (customer relationship manager) called Insightly (which BTW is a great CRM) for managing the project. I also used Paymo. The problem was that these were overly complex for trying to manage somewhat simple tasks that I could have done with using Apple’s built-in apps.

Rant over. Like I said, the short answer is yes, but I’m trying to stick to the native, default apps within the Apple ecosystem.

How to create a checklist, starting with Notes, ending with Reminders

Probably the best place to do this is on a Mac and not trying to do it on an iOS device.

  1. Open Notes with your checklist and stick the window on one side of the screen.
  2. Open Reminders on another side of the screen and create a new list for project.
  3. One by one, copy a checklist item from Notes and copy to Reminders. When you copy a checklist item, usually it will add some brackets where the check mark goes. Just delete that.
  4. Once you have the checklist item in Reminders, you can set the due date using the interface, but I prefer to just drag and drop the reminder on to the date that it’s due by.

Crashing the party

One note about Reminders, I noticed if I try selecting several reminders and drag them to set the due date, sometimes Reminders will freeze. I even got the black screen of death one time. It only happened when I tried selecting 7 reminders at once.

There’s probably a Automator thing that can do this faster

As I was going through the conversion process, I realized there’s probably a way to use Automator to grab a checklist item and then create a new reminder. I’ll have to set a reminder to look into that later.

Resources to help you with Notes, Reminders and other things

*As of publishing this article, I recently switched to Todoist over Reminders, mostly because of Reminders’ wonky way of setting deadlines, sorting and lack of subtasks. 

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