Photo by Sean MacEntee

Productivity Tool Review: Todoist

To-do lists are a smart way to stay organized and be more productive. While traditional pad and paper may work well enough for some, Todoist is the best digital tool I’ve come across. I’ve been using Todoist regularly for the past six months and here’s why I can’t live without it.

Intuitive Planning

Todoist tasks are viewable by default based on what is due ‘Today’ and what is due in the ‘Next 7 Days’. When specifying due dates, Todoist understands what you mean by ‘every day’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘next wednesday’ and ‘every other day’. It also correctly interprets multiple day/date formats (so you can type ‘Wed’ if you’re too rushed to write ‘Wednesday’) and includes a pop-up calendar so that you can choose a date if that’s more convenient. Rescheduling tasks is easy with default options to postpone a task until the next day or the start of the next week. Bulk rescheduling is quick and works well in both the mobile and web versions.

Options for Organizing

Todoist helps you prioritize by offering four color-coded levels of prioritization. Tasks assigned a specific priority leads your to-do list to be automatically sorted from most to least important (priority labels are only overridden if there is a time associated with the task, such as ‘Pick up the mail today at 3pm’). Each project and task can be broken down into several indented sub-projects and sub-tasks if needed. The free version allows you to sort tasks by project and labels, while the premium version allows you to make the labels color-coded.

Screenshot by Alexandrea Beh

Screenshot by Alexandrea Beh

Effective Searching and Filtering

One of the best parts of Todoist is how well natural language processing has been integrated into the service: typing ‘3 days’ into the search pulls up the tasks for the next 3 days only, easily customizing the task view. You can also search by date (in the same variety of ways that Todoist understands setting a due date) and you can search by priority. Upgrading to Premium allows you to search using boolean operators (more on that later) and by task keyword (useful if you forgot when something was due and you don’t want to sort through dozens or hundreds of tasks to find the entry).

Cross-Platform and Cross-App Integration

Todoist is accessible on the web but also syncs through plugins and apps for Android phones, Android tablets, Windows, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Amazon devices, Chrome, Firefox, Gmail, Outlook, Thunderbird, and Postbox. I mainly use the web  and Android phone version, and am happy to say that syncing works well and that the Android app has great functionality. Some of the app’s best features are a widget with a customizable task view, ability to check off tasks or reschedule tasks through the widget without launching the app, and the ability to quickly add one or multiple tasks (through the notification bar) without leaving whatever app you’re currently in. For even more productivity magic, Todoist integrates with services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, IFTTT, and Zapier.

Shortcuts – A Programmer’s Dream

Screenshot by Alexandrea Beh

Screenshot by Alexandrea Beh

The Todoist UI is very sleek, fairly minimalist, and easy to work with for those who don’t want to learn complicated commands. There are options, however, that make the programmer part of me very, very happy. Within the free version, you can save long links and create an elegant-looking task with the format ‘webaddress (Task name)’ so that only the task name appears, but the text has been hyperlinked, making it easy to go to the saved website. In the web version, using ‘!!1’ at the end of creating a new task will mark the task with Priority 1, saving you a couple mouse clicks. The Premium version allows you to search tasks and filter using boolean operators: using ‘today & priority 1’, the AND operator, shows you tasks that are both due today and are top priorities while ‘today | priority 1’, the OR operator, shows you anything either due today or due at any time but labelled with priority 1. It’s not the functionality of the Linux command line, but for a productivity tool I’m more than satisfied.

Is Premium Worth It?

I recently upgraded to Todoist Premium (a year’s subscription is $29) and mostly enjoy the enhanced search and filtering options, as well as the ability to easily add emails as tasks. I feel that most people can get a lot out of the free version without ever needing to upgrade, although the Premium version has more color-coding options and more than doubles the number of projects you can have at one time (from 80 to 200 projects, each with up to 200 tasks in the Premium version instead of 150).

What Can’t Todoist Do?

For one, Todoist is definitely not your virtual personal assistant (it can integrate with Google Now though). It won’t try to be smart and anticipate what you want to know unless you’ve set up integrations for that kind of functionality. I would recommend that if you are looking to use a highly functional yet customizable task-tracker, especially one that works well across multiple platforms, then give Todoist a try!


Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored by Todoist.

Alexandrea Beh

Alexandrea Beh

Contributor at iGirl Tech News
Knowledge Junkie, Avid Reader and Lover of all things puzzles and cats. Alexandrea is a Biology major and Computer Science/Music double minor at Pacific University. A self-starter who loves a challenge, her passion is developing tools that bring people together to learn.
Alexandrea Beh

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2 thoughts on “Productivity Tool Review: Todoist”

  1. Thanks for your article. I was interested in the comment “bulk rescheduling works well” as I cant find a way to bulk reschedule tasks despite being premium. The multiple tasks that are highlighted when using Ctrl or Shift + Select disappear when I then click on the … icon to bring up the menu… What’s your hack for bulk editing?

    1. Hi Sean, I think this feature depends on what platform you are using, unfortunately. While I’m not able to schedule tasks in bulk via the Chrome extension or the website, I have this functionality in the android app. I’m not sure if the iphone version would do the same. Hope this helps!

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