Interview With A Todoist User

Todoist is a personal task management app that is quick and easy to use. This app is ideal for someone that is looking for a mid-range level of sophistication – not as basic as a simple list app like Wunderlist, but not as detailed as something like Omnifocus. I thought the best way to truly understand the pros and cons of Todoist would be to ask someone who has been already using for a while, Daniel Gold.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Daniel GoldI’m a productivity coach for executive and busy professionals. I also authored Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done, Simplify Your Life with Springpad, and Make it Happen: How to Write, Publish and Sell Your eBook. In addition to that, I’m a blogger and co-host of the popular podcast The GTD® Virtual Study Group. Writing the Evernote eBook changed my life in so many positive ways and has really helped me lead a more intentional life built around what I really want to do in my life — and that is make a meaningful difference in other people’s lives! Every time I finish with a productivity coaching client, I feel both very happy for them and also quite blessed that I had the opportunity to help put them on a path to succeed even more in their own lives!

2. Are you a GTDer or do you go with your own system?

I am definitely a GTD fan! That being said, one of the things I’ve learned through the GTD Virtual Study Group, the Google+ Productivity Community, started by John Winstanley, and of course my clients is that no one system fits all! There are some folks who decide that they prefer a less stringent approach to GTD or prefer not to use the GTD system at all. The most important thing to remember is that personal productivity is just that — personal! What works for one person may not work for another.

3. How did you first start using Todoist and why do you use it over other apps?

As a student of productivity, I have gone through just about every major app out their, save for except OmniFocus and Things. It gets to a point, as I’ve talked about often, that you go through what I like to call, “GAH” or “GTD App Hell”. What happens is that you end up spending more time fiddling, tweaking, hacking, and massaging a new app to bend it to the way you work. The biggest problem with almost every single app in the overly saturated marketplace today is that every designer and coder are creating these so-called productivity apps around the way they think you should get things done. In many ways, it is because of this proliferation of apps and confusion in the market that so many people are “reverting” and going back to physical notebooks!

Todoist is different. The designers at Todoist have done something very rare – something so rare its actually akin to Evernote. Todoist is everywhere – your Mac, PC, it’s a Chrome web app, Firefox, it’s in Outlook, Postbox, Thunderbird, Windows 8, Android, and iOS devices. It is a perfect blend of minimalism and complexity wrapped into one. It is feature rich and packed with robust functionality, but you would never know it because the designers have found balance and calm in its white space. That is exceptional and that is the reason why I began using Todoist.

Todoist LabelsInitially, Kevin Tea introduced me to Todoist. Then, fellow productivity friend on Google+, Denise Hurd told me about it as well. I began to “tinker” as we all do, and that is when I discovered the beauty of being able to easily create projects for my roles and responsibilities in my life. From there, it was even easier to create sub-projects and even sub-tasks! Creating labels for my contexts allows me to easily identify what I need to do depending upon where I am; such as @calls, @computer, @email, or @errands. Add to it filtering for tasks and the ability to plan out your day, week, and month with its planner and integration into your calendar, and it becomes second nature to use. It almost becomes a zen-like experience to get things done.

In fact, I liked the approach so much so that I almost always teach my productivity clients how to integrate Todoist in their own lives. More on that below!

4. What is your approach task management with Todoist? How do you capture, organise and process and do with Todoist?

Capturing

There are four ways that I capture information in Todoist:

  1. Using my phone;
  2. Using the web;
  3. Using my email client, and;
  4. Transferring tasks from my meeting notebook.

Because of what I do, I use both the Android and iOS devices. Capturing in both is very easy to do – though I will say that capturing tasks on an Android device is even easier because of the ability to add a task straight from the status bar, from the widget, or even using Google Now. Capturing tasks using an iPhone is also very easy using both Siri and Todoist’s project-specific email addresses you can create. I also capture tasks in Todoist by sending e-mails directly from either Outlook or Postbox with the plug-ins that you can download and install. The email becomes a hyperlink in Todoist and when its time to do the task, you can click it and the email will open. This works in the Gmail app as well. sending websites for items I want to purchase, buy or read later straight to Todoist using the Chrome app. The third way that I capture information into Todoist is using my meeting notebooks. I’m a fan of bringing a physical notebook to a meeting as I feel like my client will feel as if I’m paying attention to them and not an app on my iPad or maybe pretending to type notes in my laptop but really checking e-mails. Plus, I also feel as if I remember key pieces of information better when I write them down.

Organising

My tasks in Todoist are broken down by roles and responsibilities. For instance, I have Family, DEG Consulting, and a couple other side projects I’m working on right now. Within each of those categories, are projects that I have for each one.

Todoist Projects

Processing

Every day, I make sure my tasks are getting placed into the right bucket and then labeled as a call, email, something that needs to be done on the computer, or an errand. It’s important to point out though that not every task that I have receives a label. Lastly, if the task is time sensitive, I ensure that I place a date on the task.

Reviewing

This is by far the single most important thing you can do – and it should be done every day. Before you leave the office, make sure you’ve crossed everything off your list. If you haven’t, ask yourself why. Can you still accomplish the task that night or maybe just postpone it to tomorrow? Be sure that you organise tomorrow so that when you get ready to work, there’s no surprises – you’ve advanced all of the action items that you believe must absolutely go right in order for you to have a very successful and productive day. Also be sure that you pull at least one 3-5 year goal and life goal onto your weekly lists! A few gems within Todoist is that it surfaces up to you a daily reminder via e-mail and via your app on your phone and tablet of what you need to get done today. Then, at the end of the week, conduct a GTD Weekly Review (or at least something similar to it) wherein you review your entire inventory of tasks and plan your following week accordingly.

Doing

This is the easy part. With Todoist on every device I own, getting my “honey-do” list done over the weekends or plowing through my call list while I’m in the car is exceptionally easy!

5. Do you share projects? What is that experience like?

Yes! Sharing projects is fantastic with the new Todoist and I use it for each of my productivity clients! For each new client, I create a new project for us. In that project, I’ll create tasks that they are to do in between each coaching session. Plus, my clients love the fact that they can assign me tasks – which are generally questions about how to do things. We also add in notes/comments for each other as well. In fact, I have a running conversation going on one task within Todoist with one of my clients. You can also upload images, files, and URL’s in the comments. This is a great place to add Evernote URL’s too!

Todoist Collaboration

6. Free or Premium and Why?

Premium, without question!! With a Premium membership for $29, you get colour-coded labels and projects, task notes and file uploads, task reminders, adding tasks via e-mail, calendar synchronisation, project templates (another really awesome perk. This allows you to create a project template, save it as a .txt file, and import it into Todoist so you don’t have to re-create the wheel!), automatic backups, and many more active projects and tasks than the free version. I don’t receive any commission at all from Todoist when I tell you that going Premium, like each of my clients, is the way to go!

[info_box style=”success”]For your chance to win one Todoist Premium for one year click here.
Competition closes May 31, 2014.[/info_box]

  • Stuart Ruthven

    Great post, thanks. Im with Nozbe at the moment but really not enjoying it. I was a long time Toodledo’er – but it had too much going on and was kinda ugly. Then moved onto wunderlist which is almost there – but too simple. Nozbe is ok, but their mobile app kinda sucks. Will defiantly give Todoist a go after reading this. Thanks.

    • http://web2andmore.net Kevin Tea

      Stuart, I don’t know of anyone who has tried out Todoist who wasn’t seriously impressed. Despite its Zen interface there’s a hell of a lot of power in the background and it comes in so many flavours that it embraces everyone.

      • http://www.cloudproductivity.net/ Jeremy Roberts

        And that really is where truly useful apps are going – power, hidden within simplicity. Love it.

    • http://www.cloudproductivity.net/ Jeremy Roberts

      That’s awesome @stuartruthven:disqus! I’m thrilled that this post, and Dan Gold’s story has inspired you. It’d be awesome if you comment back here with you thoughts after you give it a go.

  • Skye

    Suri integration??? Adding task via Suri is mentioned in the article. I did not think this possible (other than using Suri via email to Todoist). Is there something else I need to know? Thanks

    • http://www.cloudproductivity.net/ Jeremy Roberts

      Yes, Dan Gold does use Siri to send an email to the project-specific email address in order to automatically create a task in Todoist.