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Ellen Chisa's Automated To-Do System

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Ellen Chisa's Automated To-Do System

Stay on top of your daily to-dos with recurring reminders and messages from your Gmail Inbox in this automated to-do system.

👋 Hi I'm Ellen! This is my to-do system.

Hi! I’m and I like making new things. I’m working on Dark, with the goal of empowering the next billion developers. We’re starting by making it easy to build backend web services. You could say it's deployless!
Before this, I worked on
, , and Office Mobile. I advise and invest with and . I , , and . You can find me on and or .
I already had a to-do system built in Coda, but with the addition of the Gmail Packs table, I'm able to add to-dos to my list based on e-mails I've labeled "todo" in Gmail. Here's a quick run-through...

My Automated To-Do system built on Coda

With Coda, I'm able to automate a lot of the manual and repetitive tasks (no pun intended) with a to-do system. The goal of this doc is to show you what you need to work on today, and everything else gets put into your backlog.

1. Base Model: A simple To-Do list

The core of this doc is a fairly simple To-Do list as I find that keeping it simple helps me stay focused. I track the name of the To-Do, a Due Date, a Category (just Work vs Personal), a Who column for the people involved, and Notes.

2. Recurrence Model: A "re-incarnation" model for handling recurring To-Do items

One of my challenges with most to-do list systems has been how to handle recurring tasks - especially tasks that I need to do every day or every week. I was looking for a way to handle this that is simple, but adapts to my way of thinking about to-dos. Thankfully, in Coda, you can model most things how you want it to work.
As I asked around, there seem to be two primary patterns for handling recurring tasks:
The Re-incarnation / Single-Table model - Mark certain tasks on your to-do list as recurring, mark them as complete each time they are done, and then set up an automation that will check each day for tasks that need to be "brought back to life" -- i.e. they will be marked as "Not complete" and be made visible in your Today queue
The Templated Task / Separate-Table model - Keep a separate table describing your recurring tasks. Every day, the automation will check if a task with those properties should be added to your primary To-Do table and add them.
I opted for the first one because sticking with a single table felt simpler to me.

3. Backlog Model: Set due dates in the future, and tasks will automatically be pushed into your Today queue on that date

Sometimes my to-dos have a due date out in the future, and I don't need to see these to-dos in my current Today list. I push these to-dos to my backlog of items that I want to get to eventually. The backlog can consist of longer-term projects or simply to-dos that have a due date several months in the future. Using an Automation, I can push to-dos from my backlog to my Today list only when the due date is today. This way, I don't have to worry about constantly checking my backlog for to-dos that are coming due, Coda's Automation feature does that for me.

4. Connect to Email: Create To-Dos based on Gmail messages ⭐️ NEW ⭐️

The new part of this template is using the Gmail Packs Table! Getting things out of my email and into my to-do list can be tedious, but is key to staying on top of things, and keeping my inbox clear. I set this up with a special label called "todo" which I can quickly apply in Gmail. Those messages sync into the Gmail table, and I have a button and automation that automatically creates to-do items every hour.
[Note to Coda team: I wish that the Gmail sync was more frequent than daily (perhaps hourly?) but for now I am manually hitting the sync button every once in awhile]
That's it! Working well for me, give it a try and let me know how it goes ー you can reach me at , and follow me for future template updates!

👉 Begin with !

By Ellen, CEO/Co-Founder
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