Todoist is an excellent task management tool that I use on my computer, smartphone and tablet. It offers a free plan that would be sufficient for most users. A $29 per year Premium option adds several features, including the ability to share tasks with collaborators. This is excellent if you’re part of a research team or work on large projects with a graduate or teaching assistant. Todoist offers free client applications for Mac and Windows as well as mobile clients for IOS, Android, and yes, even Apple Watch. They also have extensions for a variety of services including Google Chrome, Outlook, Evernote and more. It is as ubiquitous a technology service that I’ve ever used.
How I organize my complicated life
Like many of you, my life can get complicated. I’m serving in a role now where I split my time between teaching, scholarship, and administration. For each of these areas, I usually have multiple ongoing projects. Perhaps it’s due to my Austrian and German heritage, but I live in constant fear of being late with things or letting things fall through the cracks. Todoist literally helps me to keep organized, on time, and on-track.
Users can customize Todoist in virtually any way you can imagine. Like most faculty, my life is basically divided into teaching, scholarship, service, and home. These are four of my main “projects” in Todoist. I’ve also added other categories that include Projects, Administration, and Strategic Initiatives. Within each of these projects or categories, you can include sub-categories. For example, within Teaching, I have separate categories for each of the courses I’m teaching in the current semester, as well as, those upcoming.
Once I’ve set up my categories in ways that make sense for my work life, I can add tasks to each. Roughly following the Getting Things Done or GTD method, I try to include all the “actionable” tasks involved in each project. This helps me get the tasks out of my head and into a system that I know I will review and keep on top of. This is really the crux of GTD, getting all the tasks and projects into a system so that they aren’t always on your mind. At the same time, you can trust that you’ll stay on top of them and get done what you need to do.
For each task, you include a number of details including due dates, priority levels (1-14), recurring due dates and multiple levels of sub-headings with the free version. The premium version adds some incredibly helpful features. With Premium, you can add notes and file attachments to each task, color code them, set both time-based and location-based reminders, and integrate with your calendar application. With the Premium version, you can also search your tasks, track your productivity, and create automatic backups.
What does this system do for me?
With Todoist, I can easily add a task on my phone, tablet, or computer, and it will instantly synchronize across all my devices. I can see different views of what’s on my plate – by project (or sub-project), by when the tasks are due, or by priority level. These different ways to access and view my tasks helps me to keep track of everything and prioritize my day.
At the end of each workday, I look ahead at tasks due for the next few days. I, then, either reorder them in my Todoist app or transfer them onto a paper-based task list. I enjoy using the paper-based Week Dominator planner to plan my day and week. I really like this combination of digital and analog approaches.
While I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to work tomorrow, I can say that I do feel ready to plan my week so that I balance competing priorities and keep all of my varied projects moving forward.
(NOTE – If you’d like me to create a video walkthrough of setting up Todoist as I’ve described above, please leave me a comment below)
How do you manage your tasks?
Please post your comments below.