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Starter Guide: Tasks

Set up a simple workflow that will cover the basics of core features like Supertags, Fields, and Search nodes.

If you're just getting started in Tana, one of the simplest workflows to implement is for managing your tasks. This guide will show you how to set up a simple task manager, and how this pattern of creating a send-retrieve information flow is quite common and can be reused elsewhere. These skills are essential for getting the most out of Tana, and will be foundational for everything else you may want to build in the future.

A send-retrieve information flow is like sending mail to your future self. A supertag wraps your letter in a pre-addressed envelope, and search nodes are the mailboxes capable of receiving this specific mail on the other side.

This guide assumes you have not made a supertag called "todo" in your workspace. If you have and you still want to follow along, use the name "task" instead or any alternative of your choosing.

Setup the supertag 📩

Create a Todo supertag

  • Go to your Today node for a space to do some building.
  • Click on a new node, type #todo, then hit Enter. You have now made a supertag, and you have applied the supertag to this node.
  • Note: the first time you apply a supertag to a node you're also creating the supertag. (There are other ways of making a supertag too, see [future link to Supertag docs].)
  • Remember: Supertags apply to the whole node, and therefore always append to the end of a node.

Then, create a Todo status field

  • In the supertag configuration, make a new field called Todo status.
    • To make a new field, type > and give it the name Todo status
    • Click on its icon to configure the field, and change the field type to Option
    • In the fixed options, enter Inbox, Doing, Done as options.
    • Optional: To add some flair, we like adding emojis to option values 💃🏻 To bring up the emoji picker: For Windows, use the shortcut Start+. , for Mac use Cmd+Ctrl+Space or Globe+E (if you have the globe button). Tana also has a limited emoji picker that pops up when you type :smile: for example.
  • Configure the Todo supertag with a default field value, and checkbox functionality
    • Back in the supertag configuration, in your newly created field, enter Inbox as the default field value for all nodes tagged #todo
    • Then, turn on Show as Checkbox, and Done state mapping.
  • For Done state mapping, we want to map the checkbox states with the Todo states in the field we just made.
    • Map checked to should be Todo status=Done
    • Map unchecked to should be Todo status=Inbox

Now, test it out!

  • Apply the supertag on a couple of test nodes
  • Notice the default field value should be Inbox.
  • Try checking and unchecking it. This should toggle the field values between Done and Inbox.
  • Before heading to the next step, make three test todos: one with Inbox, one with Doing, and one with Done as their field values.

Setup the search node(s) 📮

Make a simple status/kanban board for all your todos

Create a search node to find all nodes tagged with #todo

  • A logical place to put this search node is somewhere on your Home node, so that's where we're going to make it.
    • Write "All todos" on a node somewhere in your home node
    • To create a search node, on the node, Cmd/Ctrl+K > Find nodes > with tag > #todo > Enter (There are other ways of making a search node too, see Three ways to create a search node)
    • You should see the three test todos pop up as a list.
  • Change the View to Cards, and Group to Todo Status
    • Each todo turned into a card, and there should be one card in each column
    • Rearrange columns if they're not in the Inbox/Doing/Done order

Test it out!

  • Try dragging cards from one column to the other, and see their statuses change accordingly

Extra I: Add the All todos search node as a navigation target on the supertag

  • Copy a reference to the All todos search node
  • Open the supertag configuration, and scroll down to Navigation targets
  • Paste the reference there
  • Now, you can click on the supertag and in the pop-up you'll see the All todos as a menu item you can navigate to.

Extra II: Pin the All todos search node

  • Want your todos extra visible? Pin it to the sidebar, and it'll always be within reach wherever you are in Tana.

How to use 🚀

Add todos

You can really add todos from anywhere in this workspace by using the supertag, but common places include your daily page, through Quick add, or in your All todos view

How to manage your todos

  • Drag todos from Inbox to Doing to plan your day
  • Make sure you don't overwhelm yourself with too many todos in Doing. I recommend no more than 2-3, but you may be capable of more or less so adjust as needed.
  • Once done, do what's more satisfying: Drag card to Done, or check it off ✅
  • Optional: You can clear out old Done todos by adding a new option called Archived, and moving todos there once you're done looking at your done tasks :)

That's it! ✅

Congratulations, you've just made a simple task manager in Tana!

Easily modify this setup to include fields like Todo due date, Priority, or Related project.

Notice that this closed-loop pattern of writing things down and resurfacing things again is at the heart of what makes Tana uniquely built for knowledge work. It doesn't matter where or when you write something down, by throwing a tag on it you can always have the confidence that it'll resurface on your dashboard, daily page, or dream project through a well-placed search node 📮

Say bye bye to lost tasks! 👋