An Extremely Simple Way to Manage To-Dos on a Pebble Time

Pebble Time with Michael

Google CalenarI’ve written here in the past regarding various ways to manage To-Do lists on the Pebble Time. I’ve talked about using the MyTimeline Tasker Plugin. I’m mentioned various Pebble Time apps, like Todoist. There are tons of other apps and techniques available to you for managing To-Do lists, but I think I’ve stumbled onto a technique that’s extremely simple and easy to use. It will work for either iPhone or Android users. It may not be for everyone, but you can consider it and decide for yourself if it will be usable for you. It works great for me and I’ve been using it for quite a few weeks now.

I have a couple of criteria for any To-Do list or task manager. First, it’s got to be very easy to use. Next, it’s got to be very quick to use.  This second criteria pretty much lets out any Pebble app-based solution for me. They are all too slow for my taste. It also needs to be able to easily display a list of my tasks on my Pebble Time. Finally, it’s got to be a solution that allows me to add/delete/modify tasks from any of my devices – PC, laptop, tablet, phone, etc. In other words, it’s got to be cloud-based.

These criteria are what first led me to Todoist – it’s easy to use, it displayed my tasks on my Pebble Time, and it was cloud-based. Alas, one key feature of Todoist killed its usefulness to me: it’s slow! This is because the Pebble Time app needs to communicate with the Todoist web server first over Bluetooth to my phone, and then over the Internet to the server. Responses from the server need to travel back over the reverse of this route. There’s no getting around it – this is going to result in a pretty slow app. There’s an additional bug in Todoist that I mentioned in my review of it that also renders it somewhat difficult for me to use. You can read about it in my review linked above.

The MyTimeline Tasker Plugin works great for location-based recurring reminders, but not so well for dynamically changing To-Do lists. So that killed the idea of using this software for To-Dos.

So, what to do? (Pun not intended!) I really wanted to be able to view my To-Do list from my Pebble Time, and do it very quickly. I didn’t have to be able to update the list from my watch, just be able to quickly see what was on it for today and maintain it from any of my many other devices.

Well, I came up with an extremely simple solution to my problem. It certainly has some limitations, which I’ll discuss below, but it works surprisingly well for me. I just use Google Calendar.

A calendar? Not Google Tasks? That’s right I use Google Calendar. I do so in a very specific manner. I enter each of my To-Dos, whether they are one-time activities or are recurring, as “dummy” appointments from 11:00 PM to 11:30 PM. Now I’m almost always in bed by 11:00 and I never have any real appointments scheduled for this time period, so my To-Dos will never conflict with real appointments. Since I sync my Google Calendar with my Pebble Time, these To-Dos will appear at the very end of my Timeline entries for each day. Displaying the Timeline is one of the very fastest operations on a Pebble Time, so viewing them will alway be extremely quick. As I accomplish my daily tasks it’s very easy to delete the corresponding “appointment” from my Google Calendar, using PC, laptop, phone, or any other of my devices. In the case of recurring To-Do appointments I’m careful to specify deleting “Only this instance” to enable subsequent occurrences to continue appearing. In addition, when I’m using the Web-based version of Google Calendar I even color code these To-Do appointments in the color gray. I find that displaying the Web-based Google Calendar in the Agenda view makes maintaining them easiest. You can see a sample image of one of my day’s Google Calendar entries above.

Now for the caveats of using this technique: first of all it probably won’t work that well if you have lots and lots of To-Dos each day. Most days I only have two or three, and the most I ever have in one day is seven or eight. If you have dozens, this technique is probably not going to work for you.

Second, I think trying to add context and/or priority to the To-Dos would likely end up being kind of kludgy. You could come up with some kind of coding scheme within the appointment’s name, or perhaps by using the location field, but I think it would quickly turn into a major hassle. I want to keep my scheme as simple as possible. Besides, with the small number of To-Dos I happen to usually have, adding attributes like context and priority would really be complete overkill.

So, that’s it! That’s how I’m currently managing my daily tasks and so far it’s working wonderfully for me. I hope you find this very simply approach helpful to you, too. Be sure to let me know if you do.