Task management pro-tips

Best practices and guidelines for dealing with tasks.

Where do I put tasks if I don't know what day I want to do them?

Sunsama has a lightweight backlog that you can use for storing tasks you want to work on sometime in the future but aren't ready to commit to on a certain day yet. You can toggle the backlog with "Shift + B" or clicking the "filing box icon" in the right hand panel.

Using shortcuts while creating a task

Quickly assign a channel, planned time, and start date to the task with keyboard shortcuts while creating it. While typing the title of your new task, use:

  • # to assign a channel
  • ~ to set a time estimate or planned time
  • @ to set a start date (e.g. @tomorrow, @dec 14, @backlog)
  • $ to align with an objective

Quickly create tasks from outside Sunsama and from other tools

With the Sunsama desktop app open in the background, you can quickly add a new task by using the Global Add Task shortcut, which is CMD Shift A (or Ctrl Shift A for Windows/Linux) by default. This is a great way to quickly create a task before forgetting it without having to open Sunsama.

Use the Add via URL feature to create tasks from other tools Sunsama integrates with (or just a generic website or link) without needing to import that task from the integration panel in Sunsama.

Pair the two methods listed above, and you can quickly import tasks from other integrations and websites with a few keystrokes, rather than navigating an integration within Sunsama.

Viewing all tasks in a list

The search panel in the right hand panel (magnifying glass icon) returns all lists per your filter settings. You can open the search with Shift S or clicking the magnifying glass icon in the right hand panel. Set filters for different task type, date range, and channel to view a set of tasks. Use this to do things like "find all completed tasks in a channel" or "all upcoming tasks in a channel".

Choosing a "Backlog" tool

Sunsama is designed to be your daily and weekly task list. It's not designed to be a fully featured project planner.

Sunsama's Backlog can be used when you've got a handful of items you want to do someday but aren't sure when.

If you start to have lots of tasks accumulating in your Backlog, Archive, or in today's task list, it might be time to consider integrating a more robust backlog management tool like Todoist, Trello, Asana, or ClickUp.

Currently, the Trello and Notion integrations allows you to move tasks in both directions between Sunsama making it a great choice for a backlog.

Dealing with multi-day tasks

There's a few strategies you can use to work on tasks across multiple days in Sunsama. Check out this guide for a few different techniques: https://help.sunsama.com/docs/dealing-with-multi-day-tasks

As a single task

  1. Create a single big task.
  2. Add all of the constituent pieces that got into that big task as notes within that task
  3. Turn the pieces you are going to work on today into subtasks, and leave the rest as notes
  4. Once you complete all of the subtasks, convert the next piece into a subtask, and bump the parent task to the desired day.

Via subtasks

  1. Create a single task.
  2. Add all of the constituent pieces in as subtasks
  3. For the subtasks you plan to work on today, add time estimates.
  4. Once you complete all of the subtask bump the parent task to the desired day and repeat the process.

From an integration

You can use one of the strategies above or pull the task in from the integration each day. It can be helpful to rename the task's title in Sunsama something specific to what you are going to do today.

Using Weekly Objectives

Alternatively, consider using a Weekly Objective for either a single task that may take multiple days, or a task that would normally involve several subtasks.

Should recurring work be a recurring task or a recurring event?

Recurring tasks give you the flexibility to decide exactly when you'll work on something each day or each week. In Sunsama, recurring tasks don't have a time on the calendar on each day of their occurrence by default. As you plan each day, you can add them to your calendar by dragging and dropping them to the calendar or by right clicking on the task and saying "Add to calendar". This gives you flexibility on exactly when you do it each day.

Recurring events (meetings) are best used when the work is an "appointment" and it has to happen at that time.

For example, I have a daily recurring task to review my email but the time I do this changes each day based on my other obligations. If you have tasks that you need to do at a fixed time everyday or don't want that flexibility e.g. "pick up kids from school" or "morning journal" then you should create a recurring event in your underlying Outlook/Google calendar. Then, you can use the auto-sync feature to automatically import that event to your task list, or you can import the event as you plan each day in Sunsama.

Managing the privacy of your tasks

The easiest way to make all your tasks private is to use a Private workspace. When you set your workspace as private, it creates a private Sunsama instance for everyone in your workspace. No task, channel, or event information is shared between users of the workspace. The only thing that is shared is the billing method.

Private workspaces are a good option when you want everyone to have their own personal Sunsama but want to consolidate billing.

If you are in a collaborative workspace you can make use of channel privacy and personal contexts.

1. Channel based privacy: You can create private channels. Only members of that channel will see any tasks or events placed in that channel.

2. Personal context: You can create a "personal context". Any tasks in this context or it's sub channels will be visible only to you. Personal contexts also allow you to easily filter out "personal" tasks from cluttering up your view of your work tasks.


Default Channel/Context

Set a private channel or personal context as your "default" channel to make sure all new items created always start as private items.

You can move those items into collaborative contexts later, if you'd like.

Counting actual work against your workload counter

  1. If the task came from your calendar, you can simply not import those items into your task list. If they get auto-imported, right click on them to remove them.
  2. Add them to a "Personal" context. Items in a personal context never count against your "work" time. Learn more about Contexts.

Not losing sight of tasks in the Archive or Backlog

If you're worried you'll forget about tasks you've moved to the backlog, or tasks that have rolled over into the archive, consider creating a recurring task called "Review Backlog and Archive" to remind you check in on your backlog and archive. That way you can reliably use those features and not fear that those tasks will be forgotten.

Depending on how heavily you use the backlog and your auto-archive threshold, you could set up your "Review Backlog and Archive" task to recur at an interval that makes for you (e.g. weekly on Mondays, every weekday, etc.).

Decluttering your task view

In order to minimize attention residue, you can take a few steps to keep your view of Sunsama de-cluttered.

  • Minimize subtasks: Right click on a task in the kanban to select hide subtasks. It's usually not helpful to see all your subtasks until you are actively working on a task. (Note: to hide subtasks on all instances of a recurring task, hide them on one instance and "update all incomplete instances to match this task").
  • Use Today View and Focus Mode
  • Filter to the relevant context. For example, during the workday, you may want to filter to your work context so you aren't being visually reminded of things you won't do till the evening anyway.
  • Move tasks you aren't doing. Today's task column in Sunsama isn't a backlog, it's supposed to be the list of things you can actually accomplish today. Move things you won't get done to tomorrow, the backlog, or delete them.

Converting subtasks to tasks

You can convert a subtask into a task. Do so by clicking on the task to open up the task view and hovering over the subtask. A button will appear to convert the subtask to a full task.

Creating task templates

There's no officially supported feature for task templates but here's how you can workaround it. Create a task in your backlog and putting it under a "Templates" Channel. That way you can always see all your templates in one place, then when you are ready to use it, click into the task, click the "..." menu, then click "Duplicate" (or use keyboard shortcut CMD D or Ctrl D on Windows/Linux).

I forgot to stop the timer on a task/subtask that rolled over

If the timer on a task or subtask runs overnight, you can get into some complicated situations that can be frustrating to fix. If you find yourself in this position and want to correct the time totals for the task/subtasks, here is a workaround you can consider:

  • Get the entire task/subtask on one daily column. This may involve deleting and recreating the task, or simply clearing all history of actual time. Then, move the task to the previous day's column you wish to log the actual time on (e.g. yesterday).
  • With actual times cleared, and the task only appearing in yesterday's column, you can now set the actual time on the task/subtasks.
  • If you are not finished with the task/subtask, uncheck the task/subtask in yesterday's column. You will now see the accurate history in yesterday's column, as well as the task uncompleted in today's column.

Sorting the task list

When you import tasks from the calendar to your task list or timebox a task to the calendar, Sunsama will automatically sort your list for the day chronologically.

You can manually adjust the sorting. For example: if you place a task with no scheduled time between two tasks with start times, Sunsama will try and keep that unscheduled task in the same spot when it auto-sorts your task list.

If you want to order your task list differently from how Sunsama sorts it, you should manually re-order it after timeboxing.

At any point, you can have Sunsama sort your task list chronologically by using a sorting command in the command palette. Access the command palette with keyboard shortcut CMD K (or Ctrl K on Windows/Linux). Then type “sort” to reveal a few options to sort your tasks.

  • Sort Chronologically: This will order the selected column's tasks by time and move all your unscheduled tasks to the top or bottom depending on your user preference for "Task rollover position".
    If the order of your tasks gets messed up, this is the quickest way to get it back in order.
  • Sort scheduled tasks above/below unscheduled tasks: Sort your tasks chronologically and move all unscheduled tasks to the top or bottom.
    These two options are great for timeboxers who want to quickly identify tasks that still need to be scheduled to the calendar.
  • Sort unassigned tasks to top/bottom of list: This is a great option to quickly locate your tasks that have not been assigned to a channel.
  • Sort tasks with no planned time to top/bottom of list: This will allow you to quickly locate tasks that you have not yet set an estimated planned time for yet.