Task Manager vs Calendar. Which to use when?

Hi MPUers,

I’m new to both these worlds (Task Management and Calendar), but find it difficult to decide which to use when. I use them randomly. In most cases, I use Task Manager (TickTick) for things that I need to do in the next 7-10 days (can include appointments), and Calendar to remind myself of things far out in the future, like a few months out (appointment/birthday). Not sure this is the best system but this is where I am. I also find myself not clearing out all the tasks in my task manager though and they just remain in the archive.

Can you share how do you use them or what is the best way to split these things. Should I just be using one instead of both task manager and calendar?

PS: Although all of you are very nice and helpful people :slight_smile: and I learn a lot from y’all, but I still want to request everyone to please be mindful of other people’s workflow/app choices and have a healthy/collaborative conversation around it. :heart:

I just use the calendar for appointments, birthdays and things I cannot miss. If I put reminders in the calendar, I wouldn’t be able to read it (way too crowded). So the reminders I put in Reminders or in Things or even both.


I use my task manager for… tasks. And just for that. I don’t like apps that combine both. Tasks are to-dos. Things you have to work out, things that need an action.

The calendar is used for appointments, birthdays… stuff that will happen without me doing anything. Washing the car? Task. Meeting with boss? appointment. Preparing for the meeting? Task. :slight_smile:


If you’ve trust in your task system, and your habit of using it, it’s better to put items there. It sounds like you don’t quite have that so also adding important items to the calendar makes sense. If you add items to both your task system and calendar, you will hopefully reach a point where the calendar event starts to feel unnecessary which means your task system is working for you.

That said, I’ve never stopped putting absolutely critical reminders on my calendar, like calling someone on the anniversary of a death, or a deadline to renegotiate with Comcast. :slight_smile: I think it’s well possible to have a few of these without feeling like the task/calendar split is ruined.

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Lol, they do that! Wow, I better talk to them. Any tips? :smile:

I use the calendar for anything that I WILL DO on a specific date AND time. I use a task manager (Reminders, OmniFocus, etc) to track things that need to be done - some of those tasks can have due dates but they shouldn’t be arbitrary. As I review my task list, I will move some tasks onto the calendar so I then commit time to get those items done.

If I don’t move tasks onto the calendar periodically, then the calendar magically fills up with other things and I have no time left to do the items I had on my list.

I’m the same.

For the most part I only have meetings, events, public holidays and birthdays/anniversaries in my calendar. In other words, things that are intended to happen on a specific date. I also have an automated feed of church (lectionary) readings for each Sunday so I can quickly see them for any week ahead.

I use Reminders as a task manager; all tasks I’m due to do. I sometimes, but not always, add due dates. This may include preparing for a calendar event.

I do put major, immovable task deadlines into my calendar. It’s useful as an extra reminder and if I haven’t completed the work I WILL have to assign time that day to do it.

The problem with putting tasks in a calendar is, if you don’t get round to doing them that day, they’re effectively gone (and forgotten?) by the next day.

In pure “Getting Things Done” (GTD) the calendar is for the “hard landscape”: things that have be to be done at (exactly) a certain date/time (for example a dentist appointment). Tasks that have a due date, but don’t have to be done at exactly that date/time (for example filing your taxes), end up on your task list instead.

So like you, I use both a calendar (Fantastical/Fastmail) and a task manager (Remember The Milk). Using the guideline above I usually have no trouble deciding what goes where.


Task manager for projects and related tasks. The calendar is used exclusively for appointments and events but does include time blocking for certain projects. For example, I block early mornings for deep work.

I’ve created a calendar “template” that pre-blocks time that protect my pre-established commitments. My executive assistant knows to protect those times and knows that all other events are to be scheduled around them.

My task manager (Reminders) is organized like this:

I hope this is helpful.

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This is more or less my approach. Morning routine includes checking out Reminders for the given day and allocating time blocks for everything. On the afternoon I quickly review what I did and did not, and tick things off reminders, everything else keeps for tomorrow. So it’s basically Calendar for day and week planning, and Reminders for Inbox and Someday/Anytime stuff. During the day I only use Reminders for Inbox, everything else is in the Calendar.

May or may not for anyone else, though.

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For the most part, tasks go in the task manager and events go on the calendar.

That said, I do some time blocking, to be sure I have time to actually do the task (which also lives in the task manager). I can give two examples:

(1) If the task is “prepare Friday’s class” and I don’t block time for that on Wednesday or Thursday, I’m likely to let other things fill my calendar (or just think that I have free time that I don’t actually have), and I’ll end up staying up too late Thursday night.

(2) If the task is “grade essays,” it goes on the calendar, in as many blocks as needed to get it done. I need that one on the calendar for the reasons noted in (1). I also need it there because if that particular task isn’t staring me in the face, I’ll procrastinate on it. I hate grading essays. (I love reading them. I just dislike grading them.)


Unlike many of the commenters here, I actually prefer combining tasks and calendar into a single view. However, I only combine a small subset of my tasks. Specifically, I have reoccurring tasks which are due on a specific day each month/quarter/year. I want those tasks to be on my calendar so that I can account for them when scheduling appointments. However, I often will complete those tasks prior to the due date. Once they are complete, I do not want to see them on the calendar anymore. Marking them as completed removes them from the calendar (and adds the next occurrence next month/quarter/year). For me, this is a much better workflow than using reoccurring appointments, which would need to be deleted when the task is completed.

Fortunately, the calendar apps which support this feature will allow you to select which groups of tasks to include. I simply select the appropriate groups and only add tasks to those groups which I want to have displayed in my calendar. Any other tasks go in the groups not associated with the calendar.

I don’t use the calendar anymore. Everything goes into the Due app which doesn’t let an uncompleted task disappear.


In David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) practice, three things go on a calendar:

  • Actions you need to do at a certain time (appointments).
  • Actions you need to do on a particular day, at any time of day.
  • Information related to a specific day. In this case it’s not about actions you need to do, but information that can be useful to you on a certain date (e.g. when something is overdue or when it should be started, given a deadline).

That sounds nice, but I still struggle myself in fixing a hard edge. I put many (most!) day-specific actions in my task manager not my calendar. I trust my process and the completeness of the information in my task manager, so my approach is similar to what @cornchip recommended:


This is another thing I love about having tasks (via Reminders) in the calendar. They are listed on the due date until they are overdue, Once overdue, they are listed on todays date with the extra indication that they are overdue (the due date is in red in Fansastical). That way you can’t forget about them. Only after they are marked completed do they go away. Again, as I explained above, I only do this for a specific subset of tasks which this makes sense for.

My reply went to wrong person here I think…re the ‘negotiate with Comcast’ comment reply, Most any vendor will cut you a better deal if you threaten to cancel or go their competition. When Sirius wanted to jack my fee up to like $35/month, I googled for advice and then called them to ask for the $60 for 12 months deal. I got it.

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Yes, my Comcast playbook is basically:

  • get transferred to the cancellation retention people
  • if they aren’t trying hard to retain, hang up and get a different person
  • have them exhaustively go through the less than great deals
  • say yes when they somehow find a “deal they couldn’t see until now” that works. Usually involves adding or removing a service or bumping up or down a speed, which is just fine

It’s easier when your promo hasn’t expired yet, which is why it’s a super important calendar date for me. It’s a pain, but the annual savings is well worth one annoying 20-40 minute phone call.


Wow. I came here to argue my point that only appointments and places you need to be should be in the calendar while everything else goes into the task manager. I see now most of you are on the same page as me so I’ll just say look up and I agree with what the general consensus seems to be.

I’d take that one step further also. In fact, it was on a recent episode of Mac Power users where they had Myke Hurley on. He mentioned how he often uses separate apps for similar functions in order to simply segregate his life. A year ago this would have seemed overcomplicated to me, but in recent months I had come to adopt a similar approach. When he was talking about it on the show I was like “what! I do this too, I’m not alone!!”.

A perfect example of how I do this is with email also. I use Outlook for work and Spark for personal emails. I realize either app could handle both accounts, but I don’t like opening my app looking to send a personal email when I notice “12” sitting there in my work Inbox. Keeping them separate (and on different home screens) really helps me focus on what I need to focus on.

Also – as an aside, I just don’t like the way most email apps handle multiple accounts. Outlook has a feature where you can snooze alerts during certain times of day which is brilliant, but it still throws a badge on the app icon regardless which completely defeats the purpose.

The only mail app I’ve ever used that handled this perfectly was stock mail. You can turn badges on and off and use different alerts, identify VIP’s. If I was using a single mail app for all my accounts stock would be it but so far the Spark/Outlook combo works great.

Finally, I also split my tasks recently. I’ve been using Todoist for years to hold both work and personal tasks, but I am a Data Analyst and a lot of my tasks arrive via email. The Todoist Outlook integration has really stumbled as of late and I actually find it easier to link my emails to MS Todo. Other factors in this decision – MS ToDo is free through work AND iOS Reminders is more than adequate for personal reminders.

Oh, and I was kind of using reminders here and there anyway, even in the days of Todoist. “Hey Siri, remind me to pick up a jar of pickles at 2pm”. So utilizing Reminders more at home and ToDo at work seems to be okay – even if I do miss the natural language input at times.

Point is, there are definitely circumstances where splitting into different apps is useful, especially now with focus modes. When it’s personal time Reminders is on my Home Screen. When it’s work, up comes ToDo.


I put things I need to do in my task manager, meetings and events in my calendar. Both are displayed in my calendar, and are visible in a widget on my iPhone’s Home Screen.

Keep them separate. Y

our calendar will become a clutter mess of things if you add tasks and reminders.

I do plan time for tasks and task reviews. That goes in the calendar.