Cool Tool: Zoho Planner – Every to do has its place

Zoho Planner logoOne of the challenges of running your small business is the number of tasks for which you are responsible. Your tasks range from the exciting to the mundane, the very short-term to the very long-term, and are related to clients, service providers, and even your family.

While we all want our businesses to grow, this growth brings with it many more tasks and increases the difficulty of managing them. I recently found myself spending too much time trying to figure out what to do next, rather than actually doing. I felt like things were slipping out of control, and I needed to find a simple, effective and free way of managing my responsibilities.

I tested out a number of task-management tools, including Rainlendar, HipCal, and even wikis such as stikipad. All of these systems were lacking a major functionality that I needed – the ability to filter my tasks according to urgency, category or client. These systems would present all of my tasks together, sometimes with some form of categorization, but never enough.

And then I found Zoho Planner. Zoho Planner is a free (yay!) hosted system that allows you to create multiple pages on which you can enter your to-do’s, appointments, notes, and attachments. You can tag pages with certain keywords (like the del.icio.us and Technorati tagging systems), and Zoho Planner encourages collaboration with the page sharing feature, which allows you to invite people to view your pages. This is useful if you are working on a project with other people, and you need to manage a project task list together.

I created pages for each of my clients that had projects in progress, and added to do’s to each page.

You can define due dates if you want, and request a reminder when that due date is approaching. Now here’s where Zoho Planner rocks: once you’ve added all your to do’s, you can view all of them together under “All my to do’s.”

Zoho Planner sidebar

There you can see all your to do’s, both open and completed, and you can choose to view them according to their urgency: Overdue, Today, Today + Overdue, Tomorrow, Next 7 Days, All Open.

To do options

My personal favorite is Today + Overdue, so that I can see what I really need to do now!

Good, Bad or Ugly

Zoho Planner is good. It’s helped me get my business in order, and I refer to it throughout the day. It makes me happy when I can check-off a task, and I feel like things are under control.

I recently discovered the one bad thing about not only Zoho Planner, but all online services. One day I really needed to see my tasks, and Zoho Planner was having server problems, as was another online service I use. I felt pretty helpless, and realized that online services have their pluses, such as access from any computer with a browser, but have a major minus since everything depends on the Internet.

Ugly – not at all. Zoho’s planners designed a user-friendly, attractive interface that adds to the pleasure of using it.

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