Over the years I’ve used many ways to manage my tasks, from a notepad and pen, to the Notes and Reminders app on my phone.
I've always said that if you want to get something done then write it down. Our brains are not designed to remember everything. By getting your tasks out of your head and into a system, this will improve your productivity enormously.
The first part of my system is Todoist. This is the beating heart of my productivity system. I capture everything I need to do here.
Todoist is a powerful task manager that doesn’t over complicate the user experience. I've tried other task managers, but I always come back to Todoist.
I should add that I am a Todoist Ambassador - I just love the way it helps me to stay focussed and stay on track to getting everything done, both for my personal life and my work.
Whether you are using it for yourself, or you have a team, this is something that is suitable for individuals and teams alike.
There are two flavours of Todoist - Free and Pro (the new name for Premium).
As of April 2021, Todoist have re-aligned their offerings, and in this article I will explain the differences.
First of all, Todoist is free to download and is available on the Web, iOS and Android, as well as Mac and Windows. You can start here.
Free is always a good place to start, but once you've finished reading, I'm sure you'll see how the Pro plan is beneficial and totally worth the £3 per month investment.
On the Free plan you can have up to 5 active projects*, with up to 5 team members. Each project can have up to 300 tasks.
With the Free plan you also have access to:
Filters (up to 3)
Create tasks from emails
Activity history (one week)
*An active project is one that is not archived or deleted.
When you subscribe to the Pro plan you get everything I have mentioned above, plus
Up to 300 active projects, with 300 active tasks
Location-based notifications - only want to see the reminders at home, then set that as the location and Todoist won't bug you until you get home.
Obviously, Free means Free - you don't pay a bean.
The Pro plan is $3/£3 (paid annually) which, to save you working it out, is $36/£36 per year.
When you break this down over the year, it's slightly less than 10p day.
Just 10p to keep you in focussed and in control of your tasks and your daily life.
If you want to pay monthly, then it's $4/£4 per month - which is still great value.
Take a look
Before you make your decision, let's take a look at some of the functionality.
I personally have 9 active projects (those that I'm working on), so whilst 300 is at the very top end, it's not something I need. However, within those projects I use reminders loads, and I use filters to see what's outstanding (or what I've achieved).
I also really like the location-based reminders functionality - it's ideal for showing a shopping list only when I arrive at the supermarket.
When you launch the app, you'll automatically be presented with the Inbox. You can change this in the settings, so you can see a view that's relevant to your workflow.
The Inbox is the default place for all your tasks. Whenever you create a task it will automatically appear here.
If you create projects, then you can assign tasks directly to them; for example you might be working through home improvements, planning a family event or run a group/club.
You might have a project or two (or three) at work.
Once you have created the project, you can create Sections to segment your tasks accordingly.
One of the real strengths of Todoist is the ability to use natural language to set dates and times, for reminders.
It's simple to type 'Call Mum every Wednesday at 6pm'
Todoist will automatically create a recurring task, that appears each Wednesday at 6pm.
Of course, this doesn't have to be a recurring task - you can just type 'Call builder tomorrow' and a task will be created for tomorrow.
There is a myriad of ways to create and setup your tasks.
When you create a task you can also add comments (which is important to remember what the task is for) as well as attachments. If you need to, you can set a priority and the due date too.
I also like the 'Boards' functionality.
With a board, you can work in Kanban style, creating a workflow of tasks.
As you work through your tasks you can drag it across to the next column.
Or you can create lists within projects - something that I do to help manage the visibility of what needs doing.
One of my projects is called 'Routines' and within that I have sections for 'Daily', 'Weekly' and 'Monthly'. These are displayed as a board.
Each of these contains the tasks pertinent to the period, making it much easier to view and manage.
The great benefit is that you can change between the board view, or a list view of sections, depending on how you like it. Each project can be different.
Projects can be set as favourites, so that they appear at the top of the screen, just below the default set of folders:
Inbox - as mentioned already, the default folder for all tasks, if you didn't specify a project
Today - All tasks that have a due date of today. It also includes all the tasks that are overdue, and this can start to look scary if you miss any
Upcoming - As the name suggests, this displays all tasks due in the future, including the overdue tasks and those due today. This could be a much longer list, but allows you to see at a glance what is coming up.
If you have lots of tasks, there is also an excellent search functionality, which lets you enter key words to find a task. The search also includes any notes and comments, making it quite powerful when you have a large numbers of tasks.
Filters are a really powerful way to find your tasks, based on status, project, priority, in fact almost any attribute. They act as a pre-set search query; for example:
(today | overdue) & #Work
This will show you all tasks that are overdue or due today that are in the “Work” project. Open this filter first thing when you get to work to get a clear overview of what you need to get done.
Shows all tasks that don’t have a due date. Useful for a daily/weekly review to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
##work & !/meetings
This will show you all the tasks in your work project and sub-projects, but not those in the meetings section.
It looks a little complicated, but their website support pages go into a huge amount of detail to help you.
On the Free plan you can create up to 3 of your own filters. The Pro plan allows you to create unlimited filters.
To help manage big tasks, my number one piece of advice is to break them into smaller chunks.
By doing the small tasks will allow you to feel like your accomplishing and not drowning in that impending fear of not getting anything done.
They also help to manage a project bit-by-bit.
Todoist helps you do this by creating sub-tasks.
Each sub-task can be managed in the same way as the parent. You can set due dates, reminders, add comments and attachments that are relevant to that sub-task.
If you are working with others, then collaboration is key, and with Todoist you can assign specific tasks to people within the team and keep track of how they are progressing.
There is lots more functionality available to both Free and Pro users.
The subject line will form the title of the task.
I have some of my tasks in my calendar (Fantastical 3) and I can mark tasks as complete in there, and it syncs back to Todoist. I can also create tasks in the calendar too, and they will appear in Todoist.
Todoist has a number of them. They're not something I use a lot of, but they can be helpful to set up your own projects.
There are tons of integrations, such as Alexa, Google Home, Spark, Google Drive, Dropbox, Airmail, Pomodone and more.
As an example, I use Spark for my email, and if an email needs action I can quickly add it to Todoist; either with a swipe on my phone, or using the menu on the desktop app. You can set a due date, project and whether you want the body of the email to be in the task, or just the link to the email (in actual fact, you get both).
The subject line of the email will default to the task title - but you can change that too.
I could 'pin' the email, but that can add noise to my inbox and distract me.
I usually just send everything into the Todoist Inbox and then triage it later in the day when I do my review.
Other integrations are available using IFTTT or Zapier.
Todoist provides some quite nifty reporting, allowing you to see how well you're performing against your goals.
There's Daily and Weekly snapshots and you can view all your previous tasks.
Then there's Karma. How well you are performing to become the Enlightened of Todoist.
You accumulate 'positive karma' when you regularly add and complete tasks on time and when you use advanced features labels, recurring deadlines and reminders. Todoist karma will decrease when you have tasks that are four or more days overdue!
You can set 'holidays' so that you don't break a streak and lose points.
In reality, this is completely pointless; but it adds a little fun to the process.
Would I recommend Todoist?
Absolutely. It's been a real time-saver (and life-saver; not literally!)
Would I pay for it?
Well, I have paid for it. At £36 for the year to get all the goodness, flexibility and functionality that's available, it's not really a question - especially when you consider it's really just 10p per day!
Of course, I did start with the basic version, but within days I could see the benefits it was bringing me and I haven't looked back since.
When you sign up for Todoist you really are taking control of your everyday life.
Do you use a task manager? How do you make it work for you?
I hope you found this interesting and maybe helped you in some way. If you have any questions about Todoist and how you can get the most from it, then please let me know.
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