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Todoist Review – Elegant Todo list app for Windows

If you are one of the millions who has a todo list app on their phone you have probably come across Todoist. If you are not in said group and are in the market for such a cross platform productivity app, then read this Todoist Review.  In this article we will cover the Windows Todoist app, with follow up reviews for the Android, IOS and Web versions of Todoist.

  Pros

  • Simple clean interface
  • Cross platform, with native apps for Windows, IOS, Android etc. all of which sync seamlessly with each other.
  • Standard interface across all platforms.
  • Excellent interface with minimal overhead for task entry
  • Intelligent input recognizes dates and times for due dates

  Cons

  • If your task list is on the big side you will likely need label and filter functionality. These come only with the premium version at a cost of $28.99 per year.
  • Cannot manipulate several tasks at once
  • Voice input for Intelligent entry does not recognize labels or projects
  • No team based chat although this may be temporary – stay tuned!

  Bottom Line

  • Todoist is a very strong competitor for the all platform todo list crown.  It simply works well without making a big show and dance about it.  It is effortless to use and the intelligent input is a boon if you use your voice for task entry.  I have no qualms in recommending it.

Introduction

There are more and more cross platform task management apps out there vying for the attention of the overwhelmed and overburdened folks in search of productivity nirvana.  Unfortunately such apps cannot do tasks for you put they do provide a medium for getting stuff out of your head and into some sort of system no matter where you find yourself geographically.  One such app that is well known in this field is Todoist.  In other Todoist reviews, the app has been widely lauded for being a great cross platform To-do list app.  Many Todoist users have praised it’s simple clean interface and it’s excellent design and if this is what you are looking for, then Todoist is a great candidate.  But, don’t be fooled into thinking that a simple interface equates to a lackluster feature set.  No ladies and gentlemen, there are some brains behind the simplicity as we will see later in the article.

This Todoist review will focus on the Premium version, which comes at some cost  – $28.99 per year.

 

Todoist User Interface

When confronted with the interface of Todoist my first thought was, “is that it?”, “Is that what the fuss is about?”  With the sidebar closed it has a very minimalistic appearance, just displaying the list of tasks.

But it is exactly this clean, minimalistic interface that appeals to the huge user base of Todoist.  As Einstein would say, “it should be as simple as possible and no simpler”, and the developers of Todoist have taken this to heart with both the interface and the functionality.  Everything you need is in there, and no more.  With the sidebar visible the main screen is shown below.  The sidebar on the left fulfills one function – views.  When you have task lists that stretch into the hundreds you will need some way to manage that information and this is what the sidebar does.  Several possibilities have been elegantly implemented to do that,

  • A list of projects. In the sample below it is shopping, work etc. But, this can be configured as desired.  For new tasks that are entered they can be categorized by project so you see the tasks relevant to that.
  • In addition to grouping by project, the tasks can be labeled or tagged.  This adds another degree of freedom.  So, you may wish to implement a GTD style system so could label tasks by context, or energy etc.
  • Quick and easy way to view tasks of immediate concern, or by person or any other custom filter you wish to add and save.

The right of the screen is the list of tasks, again clean and simple.  Tasks are easy to add and right clicking on them opens up another dialog box for entering task information, such as dates, priorities etc.  You can also define a parent project for each task at this point or just drag and drop the task onto a project on the left sidebar.

Todoist review main window

Todoist Functionality

While the interface if pretty minimalistic, don’t assume Todoist is bereft of features and functionality.  There are actually quite a lot of features under the hood and moreover, the ones that really matter.  Let’s cover those in this section of this Todoist Review.

Task entry and manipulation

The first thing that I always look for is fast and easy ways to enter tasks and manipulate them as needed – basic task management such as moving them around, grouping, hierarchies etc.  I don’t want to spend more time managing a task list than actually doing work.  Thankfully, this was fairly trouble free in Todoist.  First up, there are a reasonable selection of hotkeys to prevent you from having to constantly reach for the mouse to get things done.  In this list of Todoist Hotkeys, a lot of the basics are covered.  Quick add for tasks, indenting, moving up and down etc,

If you prefer the mouse to move tasks around, also fine.  You can drag the tasks on to hew projects or drag them to form a task hierarchy having parent and subtasks.

The only problem I seen in this area was moving groups of tasks.  At present it is not possible to select several tasks and then drag them somewhere else.

The most marketed feature though working behind the scenes is the parsing of the input task whereby the program scans your input task for some keywords such as due dates and records them as such. So, if you entered a task “Do this important task tomorrow”, it will recognize that the task will be due tomorrow and flag it the following day to be done.  There are certain ways these keywords have to be put in the task and how they will be interpreted so this is well worth to study up on.  Here is a Todoist Intelligent input cheatsheet to get you started .

Such functionality is also available in Wunderlist which I currently use and I have to say it is a great advantage when out and about.  Just use the voice dictation feature on the phone to record the task as well as due date and that task will be entered and the date recognized.  Then on the appropriate day, a little reminder comes up.  Certainly beats manually typing the task, due date and reminder information.  Here is a link to the Wunderlist smart due dates cheatsheet.

Each task can have additional information entered.  This includes,

  • Priority
  • Dates
  • Comments
  • File attachments
  • Voice notes

The latter three of these are entered by clicking on the little comments symbol.  Attaching a file is trouble free and simply done by dragging it across to the comments box.  It is not possible to link to local files but with the cross platform nature of Todoist and for everything to be available on all platforms, file upload is a must.  The limit for those attached files is 100MB.
Todoist also integrated with Dropbox and Google Drive which means that you can upload files to either of these and link them to the associated task.

Import and Export of tasks

If you are migrating to or from Todoist then the import and export of large numbers of tasks is of interest.  Thankfully Todoist has this covered with easy drag and drop of csv files to import files and just as easy to export the files.  I did note one bug here though – the csv file must be in MM-DD-YYYY format.

Projects, Filters & Labels

Each task can be categorized by project.  A few examples are listed such as errands, shopping etc. but these can be configured to your personal requirements.  A limit of 80 active projects are included with the free version with the premium version supporting 200 active projects.

For large lists, filtering of some sort is a must.  The premium version supports this with a comprehensive set of options.  The basic filter commands follow natural language.  So, for example you can enter “no due dates”, and it will show all tasks with no due dates.  Check out the video below for some examples of how it can be used.

 

 

More complicated filters are also possible.  Todoist understands Boolean operators and can filter for labels, time frames etc.  For example if you want to filter the tasks assigned to you for the next week you can enter “to me: & 7 days”.

It is also possible to label/tag all tasks which adds another degree of freedom when it comes to filtering.  I have seen some GTD folks use labels to great effect. I won’t describe them in detail in this Todoist Review but you can check these examples from “10 Ways I Use ToDoist for Getting Things Done“, and “Getting Things Done with Todoist – My GTD Setup“.

Last but not least, there is the productivity report.  This indicates how many tasks you have completed over the last days and weeks.  Ticking off those tasks enables you to accumulate “karma”, essentially a measure of your productivity.  So, you can go from a lowly 0 points karma all the way up to 50,000+, the so called enlightened level.  Clearly I have still some way to go!  Oh well, perhaps by the end of this Todoist review I will at least achieve some level of competence.

Todoist review - Todoist Productivity report 2

Todoist Review: Collaboration

Pretty much every internet based task management tool supports sharing tasks with other users and Todoist is no different in this regard.  There are a few helpful features for team work and collaboration on tasks.

Projects can be easily shared across teams.  This is done simply by right clicking on the project, select share project and enter the person’s email address.

For each task, there is a history of any changes and notifications for those changes are sent to team members.  It is also possible to email tasks directly to Todoist for inclusion in the task list.  Each task can have additional comments added, files attached etc.

Project management style features and functionality such as Gantt charts are not available in Todoist so if this is what you seek, best look at other software options.  Todoist is about sharing tasks within “projects”, to team members and having all the information needed to do those tasks at hand.

One obvious missing feature at the moment for team collaboration is the chat feature.  This enables team members to have instantaneous and task centred chat to replace long email chains.  Such task messages then appear with the task so that all communication around the task is immediately available.  Check out this article for more information on the benefits of task management based chat.  This omission may be but a temporary one though.

Todoist Pricing, Free and Premium

Todoist pricing starts at $0 but unfortunately this version lacks some key features such as labels and reminders.  For that you will need to put your hand in your pocket and stump up $28.99 per year for the premium version.  In addition to labels and reminders a few other nice features become available such as location based notifications, adding tasks via email and productivity tracking.  The full table is shown below.  It is also possible to go for a Business package at $28.99 per user per year. For that some team features like centralized billing and team member management becomes available.

Todoist Pricing

 

Todoist Alternatives

If you are in the market seeking a cross platform task manager then you are spoiled for choice.  More and more entrants in this field are developing such solutions with native apps for each platform.  This is a welcome development for desktop users especially.

If Todoist is not for you there are other options.  If you want a cheaper alternative Wunderlist is an obvious choice.  It has many of the features of Todoist, including cross platform, smart dates and simple interface.  On the other end of the scale you could go for My Life Organized (MLO) which is a lot more complex with more intelligence under the hood. User interface is also a lot more busy than the minimalist Todoist.  It can get expensive though if you opt for the professional versions of My Life Organized – $59.95 for Windows app, $29.99 for IOS app.  Check out the full review of MLO.

Todoist Review Summary

I quite like Todoist.  At present I am using Wunderlist and I see similarities between the two but Todoist seems that little more polished.  In this Todoist review I had a more or less flawless experience with the Windows version and appreciate the uncluttered, elegant design that has won the praise of millions of users.

I think the price for the premium version, $28.99 per year, which covers all platforms is reasonable price.  Recommended.

Update, 3/10/16, Check out the Todoist review for Android.

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers!
Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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5 Responses

  1. August 15, 2016

    […] If you are one of the millions who has a todo list app on their phone you have probably come across Todoist. If you are not in said group, read this review.  […]

  2. August 22, 2016

    […] Brendan Toner reviews ToDoist for Windows, as an alternative to bulky list managers with complex interfaces. Android, IOS, and web variants are also available. […]

  3. September 10, 2016

    […] Todoist is one of the big players in the multi-platform task management arena.  Previously in my Todoist for Windows review I found it to be an elegant implementation of a todo list app.  Let’s see how the Android […]

  4. March 22, 2017

    […] If you fancy a full on review then don’t worry as I also have those. Simply call over to the Todoist review and the Omnifocus 2 review for IOS and then jump back here. Its OK, take your time, I can […]

  5. June 27, 2017

    […] Both batching and context are well known time saving ideas in the productivity community. Batching refers to collecting similar tasks together and then execute them all at once. An common example would be a shopping list. You don’t go to the supermarket to buy one thing do you? No, of course not. You compile a list of the stuff you need and buy them all at once. The same principle can be applied to many things. That is the batching concept, gather up the stuff that has to be done and do it all at once.  Now for contexts. The idea behind concepts comes from David Allen, the bloke who wrote Getting Things Done, otherwise known as GTD. Contexts refers to the conditions necessary to complete a given task. The usual example for it relates to a geographic location. So, to complete your email you need to be in front of the computer. To buy all that stuff on your shopping list you need to be at the supermarket. So, “Computer”, and “Supermarket”, are examples of contexts. Without being in that context, you simply cannot complete the task.  So, those are the definitions for both batch and context. For this tip to save time though, I have coupled them such that both are consciously applied together. This means you will have to group similar tasks and complete them together. Collecting your tasks in this way needs a little bit of organization but fear not for there are some techy solutions out there to come to your assistance. If you follow a GTD type method for managing your tasks then the obvious candidate would be Omnifocus. This is a great GTD App for the Apple ecosystem that follows the Getting Things Done approach closely. The concept of “Contexts”, is already baked in. This means that when you enter a task you can define it’s context, let’s say “Computer”. When you are at your computer, simply open that context list and you will have a list of all the activities that can be done there.  You can read more about Omnifocus in my Omnifocus 2 Review.  If you are not wedded to the Apple ecosystem then you can have a look at Todoist. Todoist supports a multitude of platforms, including all the usual suspects, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and various Browsers. In Todoist, the concept of Contexts can be implemented using labels. Adding a label to a task essentially tags it. The labels can be configured to your Contexts – Computer, Home, Work and so on. When at any of those locations, you can quickly and easily filter by that tag to find the tasks that can be executed there. You can find out more about Todoist over at my Todoist Review for Android and Todoist for Windows review. […]

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