Using Google Wave for Task Management

wave graphic I’m getting more and more into Google Wave as a collaboration tool. I’m using it with Justin Levy for work stuff, with a whole host of people for my new business project, and I’m getting into the possibilities. I still have many wishes for it (post forthcoming). Today, I started using it for task management, shifting away from my use of “Things” on my Mac.

Here’s my reasoning:

We can only visit so many applications regularly as part of a flow. Right now, my current “go to” applications are: email, Google Reader, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, email marketing (Publicaster), Evernote, slowly Google Wave, and that’s about it.

In a business flow, they work something like this:

  • Mail and Twitter – communication / media making
  • Reader – monitoring and story gathering
  • Calendar – scheduling / appointments
  • Evernote – “storage” information (like my frequent flier card #’s)
  • Google Wave – project collaboration, like figuring out how things will work for events, etc.

Inside Wave, I started a wave to myself called “Threads.” In there, I have the status of Open, Waiting For, and Scratch Pad. I edit them as I have things come in. So, if someone needs something, I throw it in the “open” section until I get it done.

What’s missing are things like “deadlines,” but you know what? I don’t use deadlines, and if I have a deadline, I use the calendar. What’s also missing are some automated functions, like being able to “checkbox” closed a task. But I don’t care. I just delete.

The point, I guess, is that I’m using Google Wave as a task manager because it’s starting to fit into my flow. All my tools have to fit some kind of flow or I won’t use them.

Have you ever mapped your own flows?

And what do you think of the idea? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • mariatamis99

    It's interesting to see that even though you know that the product is buggy, you kept on using it (and also told your project team to do the same). A lot of Project Managers have high hopes for Google Wave. I am wondering what will happen to the competition (other online PM tools) once Project Managers start migrating to Google Wave, and if Google will ever charge money for this service.

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  • charlottebritton

    Interesting use of Wave. I'd started collaborating with people on projects but extending this into task management is a great idea. Might start doing that myself!

  • vks

    Thank you for your post.

    I have visited a nice tutorial about google wave here

  • darni

    Is that a kind of time management software?I'll try it out.

  • tomnewton

    I think Basecamp is a better tool for this. We use it every day to great effect. To-Do lists, time tracking, threaded conversations around messages. Email subscriptions to certain topics. It is a kick ass tool. It is will be the next thing I blog about on

  • communicatrix

    Fascinating. I never would have thought of Wave for this, but it makes sense. And I get why people (hi, Tom!) would like Basecamp, but it never worked for me—mostly b/c on projects, we couldn't get people to “live” there, so inevitably, things ended up sprawling across too many nodes.

    I find myself relying on email, calendar, Things and Evernote, with a bit of Wave (for one experimental, collaborative project with Dave Seah). Still not happy with task mgmt.—too much stress b/w Things & Evernote—but I'll figure it out. I have a feeling the answer lies less with tools and more with Colleen Management. She's a bear, that Colleen.

    Now, how about a voice management workflow, Chris? I'm getting ready to dump Vonage and move completely to Skype/cell/Google Voice, but I want to hear how a busy guy manages this stuff.

  • John Bergquist

    Tom, I use basecamp as well but have found I really enjoy the playback feature of wave once I step back into a project after being away for a while. I wish basecamp/highrise had this feature. In a very active project with many members, it can take a while to catch back up. With the playback feature I can easily see all that happened.

  • jlbraaten

    I've been looking for a good use for Wave. Perhaps I'll use the tips in your article and see how it goes. Happy New Year!

  • John Bergquist

    Chris, I have been using G Wave for about four months now. I have enjoyed how the flow of creativity can be tracked for a project. I have mainly used it to build a new vlog project with a partner. Using it as a task manager makes a lot of sense and as you said as a tool becomes part of our flow we naturally it's useful becomes apparent. I am disappointed in how slow the app versions are. I would love to be able to update tasks on the go and it is just not there yet. Currently I Waveboard for the iPhone

  • Mike CJ

    The task element is such a great idea – thanks Chris. I'm starting to love Wave as a project co ordination tool, although it is still quite unreliable and not intuitive to use.

  • Mike Charbonneau

    We've just started using Wave over the holidays, on a pilot project. So far, it's been a great collaboration tool as you've already pointed out. I'm looking forward to see what else we can do with it although I don't think it'll ever replace my copy of Things!

  • mickmel

    There is a checkbox gadget available that might help. Details in the comments on here:

  • Liana Lehua

    It's great that you've found your comfort using Google Wave. I'm a believer that the best tool for task management is the one that you'll use. I need start and end dates, projects, and contexts for my to-do's. I worked many years in Project Management and used MS Project. Having these details is how I work best. I love the idea of Google Wave, but I need more from it before I would start to use it.

    As a freelancer, I have to use the tools my clients will use and have to remain flexible, accommodating based on their needs. Most of my clients use email more diligently than any other tool. This works for me, because I use OmniFocus + Mail on my Mac and can use it to assign tasks and add items to my Calendar with ease. I use Quicksilver on my Mac and have mastered the ability to use keystrokes to move through adding, deleting, editing tasks and calendar items with ease and quickness.

    Additionally, I like having the ability to take my flow with me when I only have my iPhone with me. Calendar, Dropbox, Evenote, Freemind + iThoughts, Mail, Reader, and Twitter are other programs I can use at my desk or on my mobile phone.

  • George Passwater

    A very interesting way to use Google Wave. I am in the initial stages of using the tool myself, but see many opportunities for it. Thanks for pointing out another way to use this growing tool.

  • FoxwoodOnline

    Wave's possibilities are outstanding; however, I wonder when the online folks will hook up with the telecommunications folks for optimum business productivity. Telecom (folks like Cisco) have Unified Communications which delivers “presence”. Through a series of standards it permits communication to a variety of devices in a variety of methods. The combination of developers' online tools + multiple devices + multiple formats + knowing which device and the status/location of the person would be a breakthrough.

  • FoxwoodOnline

    Wave's possibilities are outstanding; however, I wonder when the online folks will hook up with the telecommunications folks for optimum business productivity. Telecom (folks like Cisco) have Unified Communications which delivers “presence”. Through a series of standards it permits communication to a variety of devices in a variety of methods. The combination of developers' online tools + multiple devices + multiple formats + knowing which device and the status/location of the person would be a breakthrough.

  • biz78

    I have no idea about google wave,I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

  • Patrick Allmond

    Why do people feel they have to use google wave? I keep seeing these posts about “how to use google wave for…” but these are usually items for which there are much better tools. It almost feels like people feel that “have” to use google wave because google released a cool new product… according to google. I've tried.. over and over again to use google wave. Email does email better. Task managers do tasks better. Project collaboration tools do project collaboration better.

    Man – I just don't get it.

  • Karen Hartline

    (**Hey Liana!!)
    You make a great point about being able to have these items on your mobile phone. I'm on a Blackberry and consider it a mini-computer for me. I can do just about anything on it that I can do on the MacBook Pro, with the exception of some heavy web browsing among other things.
    Having these tools on the go is a big deal as well as having them all sync with desktop/online tools.

  • popimages

    I use Freemind to monitor or think out a flow of ideas. I have been experimenting with wave, but it just hasn't excited me much. If google could get it all on one page( I am sure they will) Docs,Wave,Email,Google voice, etc.Maybe I just need a second monitor.

  • Karen Hartline

    Alright–I'm starting to think that maybe I should give Google Wave another shot thanks to your tips. Two things I'd love to see, if they don't already exist:
    1. Notification when Wave is updated, either on desktop or something. I often miss a current conversation because I don't see it.
    2. Per your suggestion of using it for task management, would love to see it available offline, via Gears. I don't see this option yet.

    Looking forward to more tips to encourage the masses to give Wave another shot.

  • giedrius majauskas

    Why to use google wave for tasks when there are tasks in google calendar/gmail ?
    I think it is much better for this purpose

  • Liana Lehua

    (**waving** Aloha Karen!)

    Thanks. I'm with you on sync-ability. It is definitely another deal breaker. I'd love to see OmniFocus offer an online option for ubiquity. For now, I use WebDav to keep my tasks synced between my Mac and iPhone and live with no Windows or Linux options.

  • Tapio Kulmala

    Have you seen the Scrum board gadget for Wave. Search “with:public wavesprint”

  • steveborgman

    The challenge I have had with google wave is figuring out how to get all my friends onto it so I can start to manage projects. I have migrated away from Google Reader into, because of the ease of reading. Also, I have my own Alltop page for keeping on top of quality reads.

  • Ben Reierson

    I rely on outlook tasks and Wave is missing a lot of stuff that exchange+outlook has, but that doesn't mean they couldn't be added with the right robots/gadgets.
    Here's 3 big things I'd need off the top of my head:
    1. Ability to create a task from anything, especially while mobile. I *love* being able to flag an email in outlook mobile and know it will be a task when I sit down at my desk. Wave tasks would need to get this easy.
    2. Ability to look at history. I've gotten used to looking over the past couple weeks in outlook calendar and seeing the tasks I completed each day show up as well. I can confidently tell people “Yep, i completed that last wednesday.”
    3. Mobile reminders. Nuff said.

    I'm actually using Wave more and more for little collaborations between friends. Simple lists of group todo's, product debates, trip planning. It's great for that stuff even in its current UI infancy.

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  • Tapio Kulmala

    Sounds like It has all the features you listed. I bet somebody will create a wave-gadget for rtm quite soon.

  • Clerkendweller

    That's interesting. Do you ask your clients first for their permission to publish project information on Google Wave and other online applications? Do Google's T&Cs affect yours?

  • deborahnixon

    You tease us. Googlewave isn't available yet. Sounds intriguing. Friends need to invite. So why not invite me? I'd love to try it. I'm

    I haven't mapped my flows. So busy just doing stuff never took the time. Great idea which I will do.

  • deborahnixon

    GoogleWave isn't avail to all. You have to be invited by a friend. So Chris, you entice us but we can't use it.

    I've tried Huddle space but never got into it. Not sure why.

    I haven't mapped my flow but will now. but Google wave sounds intriguing.

  • janinelibbey

    I agree with Debra, it sounds interesting but not everyone can test it yet. I look forward to trying it out if/when I receive an invitation.

  • Eugen Oprea


    1. If you are using Firefox, here is an Add-on, which notifies you When Wave is updated. I recommended this to a friends and he seems to be happy with it. Unfortunately I use Chrome, but I check Wave regularly.

    2. Someone recommended me Waver, but I did not have the chance to test it yet:….

    Hope this helps.


  • Eugen Oprea

    Great topic Chris.

    Let's see, I use G Wave to:

    1. Collaborate with colleagues on small projects at work;
    2. Categorize and save links;
    3. Create “To read” lists;
    4. Recently I started to use it for task management;
    5. Discuss with colleagues and friends about the latest movies seen;
    6. Share quotes, jokes, interesting stuff.

  • Kian Ann

    Well after reading this i guess I should give Wave another go! Didn't like it the previous time I used it.

  • davidjacobs

    I do not use any tools unless they fit into my mobile lifestyle so either an iPhone app an android app or a mobile website. Offline sync is a big bonus too. Wave is not there yet so I will continue with remember the milk and Evernote.

  • PhotographyByDepuhl

    I think this is a great idea for a personal to do list. I often have blog posts, stories, … I want to read, but simply don't have the time – post the link in the wave and voila – I can delete when done. A Wave reader for the iPhone makes this incredibly practical as a quick way to jot down what I need to do.

    As for my professional commitments, I'll keep them in my CRM database, so they track with the correct accounts, …

  • Serge Lescouarnec

    Happy New Year

    I have to think about my 3 words
    Have not figured yet what to do with Google Wave
    Would like to be able to map my contacts in the food, travel and wine world and visualize them in the same way that Google Analytics helps me see where my readers come from

    Hopefully I will also have a chance to meet you sometimes in 2010.

    Take care

    'The French Guy from New Jersey'

  • chris b

    At my college we use a different tool for working on our projects online.
    Its free and needs no installation since its online, go to
    pretty useful for me since i usually do my projects on the laptop. -chrisman

  • Richard Session

    Karen, you can also add as a contact to Google Wave and then add it to any wave you would like to receive email notifications. This may be an option if you happen to be away from the computer but still want to receive update notifications.

  • PM Hut

    I wonder how many seasoned Project Managers will end up using Google Wave. These people are not looking for free applications (their companies have no problems paying money).

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  • geschenkefrmnner

    Google Wave is a real-time communication platform. It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client. You can bring a group of friends or business partners together to discuss how your day has been or share files.
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  • brucecrain

    Google Wave is promising on so many levels and definitely want to give this a go. is a tool that has some of Google's features, but is geared for task management.

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  • birkenstock

    Per your suggestion of using it for task management, would love to see it available offline, via Gears. I don't see this option yet.

  • Mark Fidelman

    Chris, will have a complete task management solution for you complete with dashboards. I have been waiting for the same functionlity – seems a natural fit for Google Wave.