Get a Routine

Create a ‘Daily Routine’ to start each day off right

The second tip takes the ‘top goals’ one step further. Besides the issues that change from day-to-day, there are tasks that you need to perform at the beginning of every day.  Capturing these tasks serves at least two purposes.

For one thing, it has you start your day off proactively rather than reactively.  As an example, your first routine task may be to review your calendar – take a look at any meetings you have for the day.  This way, you will not be surprised when you get a reminder in the middle of lunch for a meeting your forgot about that starts in fifteen minutes.

A routine also allows you do get all of those little tasks of the day out of the way right from the start.  For instance, you may put your phone on silent at the beginning of the workday to keep from disturbing others.  Or, maybe you put your phone on silent when home to keep from waking the whole house up when it rings at two in the morning.  Either way, you can add ‘check phone volume’ as a task you do first thing every morning.

To create your Daily Routine, perform the following:

  1. With MS To Do open, in the left-side pane, click on +New List.
  2. Rename the list to Daily Routine, and optionally add an icon.
  3. Use the new item list at the bottom to add the tasks you want to perform every day.
  4. Click on each item to open the edit pane on the right.
  5. Set a Repeat frequency.  For ‘daily’ items, you can choose either ‘Daily’ or ‘Weekdays’.

To use the list, perform the following each morning:

  1. Select all items.
  2. Right-click and choose Add to My Day.
  3. Check each item off as you work through your daily routine.

As you use this tip regularly, you will likely start finding a lot of items that will help get your day off to a strong start.  When that happens, simply add it to your daily routine.  Personally, I have noticed a big difference in my satisfaction with the day when I was able to start off with my routine.  Those days that I come in fighting fires right off the bat feel like they go on forever all the while making me feel like I am neglecting the ‘important but not urgent’ items.

Empieza “Mi día” con una rutina diaria…

El segundo consejo lleva los “objetivos principales” un paso más allá. Además de los temas que cambian día a día, hay tareas que debes realizar al principio de cada día. Registrar estas tareas sirve al menos para dos propósitos.

Para empezar, te hace empezar el día de forma proactiva en vez de reactiva. Por ejemplo, tu primera tarea rutinaria puede ser revisar tu calendario, echar un vistazo a las reuniones que tengas ese día. De esta manera, no te sorprenderá cuando te recuerden en medio del almuerzo una reunión que hayas olvidado que comienza en quince minutos.

Una rutina también permite hacer todas esas pequeñas tareas del día desde el principio. Por ejemplo, puedes poner el teléfono en silencio al principio de la jornada laboral para no molestar a los demás. O, tal vez pongas el teléfono en silencio cuando estés en casa para evitar despertar a toda la casa cuando suene a las dos de la mañana. De cualquier manera, puedes añadir “comprobar el volumen del teléfono” como una tarea que haces a primera hora de la mañana.

Para crear su rutina diaria, haga lo siguiente:

  1. Con MS To Do abierto, en el panel de la izquierda, haz clic en +Nueva Lista (+New List).
  2. Cambie el nombre de la lista a Rutina diaria, y opcionalmente añada un icono.
  3. Utilice la lista de elementos nuevos que se encuentra en la parte inferior para agregar las tareas que desea realizar todos los días.
  4. Haz clic en cada elemento para abrir el panel de edición de la derecha.
  5. Establece una frecuencia de repetición. Para los elementos “diarios”, puedes elegir entre “Diario” o “Días de la semana”.

Para usar la lista, haga lo siguiente cada mañana:

  1. Seleccionar todos los elementos (Ctrl+A).
  2. Haz clic con el botón derecho del ratón y elige Añadir a mi día.
  3. Marque cada elemento a medida que trabaja en su rutina diaria.

A medida que uses este consejo con regularidad, es probable que empieces a encontrar muchos elementos que te ayuden a empezar el día con fuerza. Cuando eso suceda, simplemente añádelo a tu rutina diaria. Personalmente, he notado una gran diferencia en mi satisfacción diaria cuando empecé con mi rutina de trabajo. Los días en que tengo que combatir numerosos problemas desde el principio parecen eternos, y me hacen sentir que estoy descuidando las cosas “importantes pero no urgentes”.

Capture the important stuff right from the start

Use MS To Do “My Day” to capture top goals for every day.

Productivity can start before you arrive at your work space. Many people begin contemplating their day within a few minutes of the alarm going off in the morning. We often have moments of clarity before we get engulfed in the ‘fog of war.’ It is not uncommon for me to see clearly what it is I want to accomplish today before I get my first cup of coffee, only to lose that vision during the morning commute.

The first tip is to use Microsoft ‘My Day’ to capture your top goal at the start of every day.  This is basically what Stephen Covey refers to as a ‘first generation’ time management tool.  All we are doing at this stage is writing down one to three things you are going to accomplish by the end of the day, using the Microsoft To Do application to capture those actions.  Although these tasks are probably ‘tactical’ (or else you could not finish them by the end of the day), they should be strategic in nature – maybe a small step towards a much larger, long-term goal you want to accomplish.

By using To Do, your list is available to you at your desk, your tablet and even your phone. So, while making your morning cup of coffee, you can use your phone to easily capture those things you are definitely going to do once you get to your office.  Because once you actually arrive at your desk, there is no telling what fires are going to distract you from being truly effective today.

To Do Just not Done Yet

Last year, Microsoft released To-Do which was derived from Wunderlist.  The promise was all to-do’s in one place, a focus on today’s activities and integration with Office 365.  I looked at it as a possible bridge for OneNote Windows 10 while that version of OneNote awaits tag search.  What I found was much to-do about nothing.


  • To-Do offers a quick snapshot of the Tasks residing in Outlook.
  • Since the Tasks actually exist in Outlook, additional functionality can be found in Outlook (e.g., sorting and filtering).
  • My Day does allow the user to focus on just what you have chosen for today.


  • No reporting on the past dates.  For example, if you want to review last week’s tasks for completing your time sheet, you can’t do that in To-Do (but you can do that in Outlook).
  • Although it can sort, the sorts available just are not that useful (but again, you can do it in Outlook).
  • To-Do task notes cannot include links, such as to your work notes, or a relevant web site (wait for it – Outlook!).

Essentially, if you use To-Do, you end up spreading activity management across three applications:

  • Focused activity list: To-Do
  • Notes on activities: OneNote
  • Review completed activities: Outlook

Right now, I can do all three in Outlook. But for other reasons, I prefer to keep everything in OneNote:

  • Focused activity list: OneNote
  • Notes on activities: OneNote
  • Review completed activities: OneNote

So, To-Do offered no functionality or features that were not already available in OneNote.  Using To-Do means opening another window and scattering information across multiple applications.  This seems to go against the rule of Keeping It Stupidly Simple.