A to-do list is is a great way to help you keep track of what you need to get done. Some folks can do a great job with a just pen and paper. I’m not one of those folks.
Fortunately for me (and everyone else that can’t cut it with a paper to do list) there are a ton of to-do apps out there that allow you to keep track of your tasks electronically. I’ve tried a bunch of them (Google Task list, Remember the Milk, doit.im, Wunderlist, and Omnifocus to name a few) and while I found them all useful, my problem is that my geeky, procrastination-fueled nature led me to play with the cool features instead of actually doing the things on my list.
My latest task list experiment with Todoist seems to be helping me overcome that particular Achilles heel. Todoist is a task list app that works online and on your mobile devices. You can seamlessly add and schedule tasks, check off completed tasks, and keep track of groups of related tasks and keep them in sync between your devices.
Like most to do list apps, Todoist is built around the GTD (Getting Things Done) method of time management. All of your tasks are dumped into the Inbox list and then processed into specific projects. You can use labels to put individual tasks into contexts. Phone calls are labelled under “Phone”, errands are labelled under “Errands”. You can then use the labels to group all like tasks together and complete them in batches.
Todoist has a email and SMS reminders feature for individual tasks. If you have the Todoist app on your Android or iPhone you can set a location alert that sends you a SMS reminder whenever you arrive at a certain location.
While these features are standard with most to-do apps, what makes Todoist work better for me is its built-in productivity tools. Because in addition to being geeky and procrastination-fueled, I’m also motivated by results I can see. Todoist also shows you how productive you really are with a daily digest email.
The daily email contains the list of tasks you completed the day before, overdue tasks, and the tasks you have due for that day. The email also includes your productivity graph for the past two weeks and your Karma Productivity score and graph.
The Todoist Karma feature calculates a productivity score depending on your activity within the app. Things like regularly adding new tasks, completing your tasks on time, and using advanced features like labels, reoccurring deadlines, and reminders increase your Karma score. Things like allowing tasks to remain overdue for over 4 days and not using Todoist regularly cause your Karma score to go down. So you’re clearly being rewarded not just for completing tasks on time, but for also constantly adding new tasks and staying productive.
The daily morning email I get from Todoist is the thing that sets this app apart from the other task list apps I’ve tried in the past. Seeing my task list for the day and how productive I’m actually being in a simple score and graph first thing in the morning gives me the motivation I need to get on with completing what on my list.
Overloading my task list was also problem I’ve often run into when planning my day. Knowing that my to do list is being tracked also makes me a bit more mindful about how many items I’m putting on it. I’m doing a better job of accurately predicting how many things can reasonably get done in any given day and I’ve gotten better and re-evaluating when I notice that tasks are falling behind.
I’ve also started using Todoist to help me establish some better habits. such as reading every day. Since reading regularly is something that’s easy to allow to fall by the wayside, I’ve set completing 10 pages of the current book I’m reading as a daily reoccurring task. Often once I start reading, I end up reading more, but a minimum of 10 pages a day is a great way to make steady progress. As a result of making this a daily task on my list, I’ve finished two books and am currently half way through a third book in three and a half weeks.
The biggest test for me is to see how well I can use Todoist for managing larger multi-step projects. I have a project in the works now that I’ll be sharing more about in the next few weeks. Todoist is working well for me when it comes to daily tasks and one off to-do’s. I’m hoping that it can help me keep this new project on track. We’ll see!
The basic version of Todoist is free. Features like labels, task notes, task reminders, and the productivity graph (beyond 7 days) are available with Todoist’s premium service, which costs about $29 per year. You can test drive Todoist Premium free for 30 days and upgrade or downgrade at any time. You can sign up for the free version or test drive Todoist Premium here.
So that’s what working for me. What works for you? Share your favorite to-do method or app below in the comments and let me know!
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