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Google adds Tasks to its list of tools

Author: JLB

Published On: February 13, 2009

Back in November, I wrote about the organizational challenges that I sometimes face, and about the help I received from an application called Shovebox.  More recently, I’ve discovered a additional tool for keeping my thoughts together, this time thanks to Google’s Gmail.

Gmail Labs (that little green test-tube icon in the top right-hand corner of the Gmail window) offers a feature called Tasks. Tasks is simple and straightforward, but thoughtfully designed enough to make a big difference in my day-to-day organization.

The applet perches on the edge of my Gmail and behaves like a chat window: it can be minimized, popped out, and it saves automatically. It takes almost no effort to add items to the list, reorder them, or indent subordinate lists under a main list item.  The user can also make (as far as I can tell) an unlimited number of separate lists and toggle back and forth between them.

There are a couple of features in that I find particularly exciting.  First, Tasks lets me import any Gmail-based email directly into the applet. For example, say I need to move a body of content from an old website to a new site that JLB is creating for a client.  In such a scenario, a colleague often sends me an email with the old and new URLs and any necessary login info.  Now I can pop a direct link to this email into Tasks and painlessly access it from my task list at a later time. Second, I can access Tasks from my iPhone.  This allows me to refer to my list, add a new task, or check-off a completed task from wherever I happen to be.

One feature that seems to be missing from Tasks is the ability to share a list with other Gmail users. This capability would be perfect for joint projects in our office. If several of us are completing different aspects of the same project, it would be nice to see our progress as a team. Google’s products always continue evolving, so maybe this sharing feature will show up in time.

If you want to learn more about Tasks or aren’t sure how to set it up on your Gmail account, visit Gmail’s blog.

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