Microsoft To-Do

Just as quickly as I started getting used to the my Wunderlist/OneNote workflow, Microsoft announced their new To-Do app. Presumably built by the Wunderlist team that they acquired; which also means that Wunderlist is now on its deathbed.

First Impressions

Microsoft has continued to stick with the flat, clean, minimalist design. The app is also minimalist in features, only a fraction of the features available in Wunderlist are available in the To-Do app. The “import from Wunderlist” tool only makes this more confusing since some of the organization structures aren’t available yet.


I’ve been trying to adapt the idea of prioritizing tasks based on Context. In Getting Things Done, actionable items are grouped by context. The context might present physical locations e.g. home, office, etc. or conveniences like call or email, which can only be done when you have your phone or computer with you. No point in looking tasks in the home context if you in the office or looking at tasks in the email context if you are out somewhere.

I’ve modernized these context types a bit to my specific use cases:


  • bills: time-sensitive tasks that are due on a specific date.
  • admin: business related forms and reports that must be filed quarterly, yearly, etc.

Items with due dates are automatically filtered and brought to relevance as their due dates approach.


  • contact: email or call someone.
  • waiting: waiting for a response from someone.

Low Priority

  • quickie: anything that can done in a short amount time, usually while taking a break from a high priority task.
  • pocket: links to articles to read later when I’m free.
  • lazy: mundane tasks that I can work on when I’m low on energy and don’t have to think too much e.g. filling out expense reports.

High Priority

  • next-actions: the very next task that needs to be completed to move the project forward.
  • errands: tasks that have to be done outside e.g. grocery list.

Every task belongs to a context and I only focus on the one context I need to work on.

My Day

Microsoft To-do

One of the best features however, is the My Day view.

Wunderlist had a today view for tasks with dues dates on the current date, but I had to manually move other tasks around to create a focused view with only the tasks I needed to care about on any given day.

To-Do app automates most of this for me and even offers suggestions for tasks I could add. I can see a lot of potential for this in the future when they can integrate Cortana and the email/calendar apps to automatically help users focus on the highest priority items each day.

Looking Ahead

I've migrated my tasks over and started testing out my system with the new app, so far things have been pretty smooth. The app seamlessly syncs across all my devices (Macbook, iPhone and iPad) and offers widgets to view tasks at a glance.

Though I like keeping my task management separate from my note management, I'm hoping that both apps being in the same eco-system will improve their interoperability.

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