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Project details

📄 The overview

I've tried a ton of project management and to-do list type apps. And there wasn't one that I used for more than a few days before moving on to trying a new one. One reason is because I required the app to satisfy a bunch of different goals which didn't exist in that unicorn app.

🏰 The strategy

I decided to create my own custom Google Sheet and try that out for a week. The goal behind my own creation was to build in the things that I required for my to-do list as well as practice taking a systems thinking approach to my project management solution.


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Once upon a time in college...

Back when I was in college, my project management experience was pretty average. I used a daily planner that you can pick up at any office supply store but I didn't really stick to it. And for the most part, a daily planner like one from Moleskine had a slew of features that I didn't really need as a college kid just trying to make sure he didn't forget a class assignment or to study for a big test.

These ARE the planners you are looking for. Image source.

These ARE the planners you are looking for. Image source.

I remember meeting some friends in the University Union one early morning and ran into an older classmate who was painstakingly filling out a blank 8.5x11 piece of paper with boxes and lines that looked like a calendar. She told me that she made her own 2-week calendar to keep all her tasks in order, including homework assignments, test dates, and social activities, too.

At the time, I thought this was a lot of work.

Systems thinking approach

Fast forward to 2016 and I had just completed a project that involved creating several component libraries for Airbnb's new design system. I've never worked on a design system before and so this was a new challenge for me. So I was definitely in a systems thinking mindset during this time where I was downloading and uninstalling a new to-do app on my Macbook Pro and iPhone every other day, trying to find one that would work for me.

<aside> 💡 Enter Google Sheets ****


I've used this app before and decided to just build my own custom to-do list since at the core of it was boxes and lines. Taking inspiration from my design system project, I took take a step back and thought about how I'd build my own Google Sheets to-do list, from the foundational structure to the way I would actually use it on a daily basis.


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To tackle this project, I started to list out what I really wanted in a to-do list. Essentially I had done all the research before by testing out different to-do list apps already on the market. Some that I tried out included:

Here's what I wanted to be able to do in my solution: