Todoist: My Favorite Task-Management App

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| September 2, 2014

task management app

If I was more musically inclined, I’d write a song (complete with a choreographed dance number) about my love for Todoist.

At its most basic, Todoist is a web-based task-management app. I’ve been using it for about a year now, and in that year, it’s proven itself to be a game-changing life-management app.

Why Todoist?

With hundreds of different choices for task-management apps, why pick Todoist? For me, the choice came down to a few things:

  • The free version is robust, no strings attached, and serves most of my task-management needs.
  • The interface is well-designed, clean, and intuitive.
  • Because it’s a browser-based app, I can easily access my tasks from different computers, and from my phone.

Prior to discovering Todoist, I’d gone through a number of different task-management apps. I’d use an app for a few weeks, proudly checking items off my to-do list, then I’d promptly forget about it. Months later, I’d rediscover the app on my computer, realizing that most of my to-do list items were still incomplete. The next step, naturally, was to delete the app out of shame. If I can’t see it, it can’t haunt me…right?

The Basics

I was surprised and delighted when I realized I’d been using Todoist for a full year. An app with sticking power—yay! As I mentioned above, the user interface is a major selling point; it’s minimal, visually appealing, and the navigation is straightforward.

Though you can go much deeper with Todoist’s premium features, the core of it is simple, and the free version has virtually no learning curve. You simply:

  • Sign up with your email address
  • Add a project
  • Add tasks to the project
  • Get to work!

You can add a deadline to each task—or not! I assign deadlines to almost everything: unanswered emails, work projects, creative writing, even articles I’d like to read but haven’t gotten around to yet. Adding deadlines to tasks that don’t technically require them has been great. It keeps me accountable, inspires me to stay on top of my reading list, and helps me assess whether a task is still relevant if months have gone by and I haven’t completed it.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Todoist is chock-full of keyboard shortcuts that make adding new tasks a breeze. “q” allows you to add a task from anywhere in the Todoist dashboard, “s” sorts tasks by date, “p” sorts tasks by priority, and there are tons of additional keyboard shortcuts (more than I could possibly remember) that streamline saving, deleting, and sorting.

Dates and Deadlines

After familiarizing myself with some of the basic keyboard shortcuts, I was inspired to explore other “hidden” features of Todoist. One of these features is textual dates and abbreviations. When assigning a deadline to a task, you can select that deadline from a dropdown calendar, or you can describe the deadline using human language, like so:

  • today
  • next Wednesday
  • tomorrow at 2pm
  • every Sunday
  • every 2nd Monday

The human language deadlines integrate seamlessly with the keyboard shortcuts, making Todoist a nearly hands-free interface.

Other Features

Other cool features available in the free version include task sorting (by priority or multi-level indenting) and project sharing. I recently used Todoist to manage the editing, artwork, and fulfillment of a big Kickstarter project. The sharing settings made it easy to assign tasks to different owners, and I received an email notification when a project collaborator had completed a task (or added a new one).

Project sharing also allows you to add comments, so if a collaborator has a question, they can add it directly to the relevant task.

Then, there’s the “karma.” While it may seem silly, Todoist’s karma system works on my gamified brain. When I see that number in the upper-right corner dip into negative values, I know it’s time to get moving!

Free versus Premium

I’m still using the free version of Todoist, but as I celebrate my one-year anniversary with the app, I’m considering an upgrade.

While using it to manage a multi-person project, I started to push the boundaries of what the free version has to offer. For example, I successfully maxed out the number of tasks allowed under a single project (150 in the free version, 200 for premium). Likewise, as my task list has grown, so has my need for a keyword search, which is only available at the premium level.

I think the real break point between the free and premium version is in how you intend to use the app. Todoist has all but replaced my Google calendar, but with the free version, I do have to manually access the app in my browser to review the day’s tasks. With the premium version, I’d have access to more advanced scheduling features, like task reminders (via email or text), location-based reminders, and calendar synching.

The premium version also comes with the ability to upload files, add project notes, and access project backups (just in case). At $29/year, it’s not a bad price for a feature-packed upgrade.

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