How Todoist Makes My Days Easier

My love for Todoist is well documented. I tweet about it often, and I tell anyone who’s willing to listen that it changed how I work and live. It’s more than just a to-do list for me. I don’t need to remember my to-dos or where my paper task list is, email myself links or documents, or get caught by surprise when a deadline sneaks up on me. Todoist takes care of it all for me.

What is Todoist?

Todoist is a to-do list app. You add a task, and when you complete it, you mark it as done. That’s the simple version.

When you start exploring Todoist’s features, you’ll see it’s also a way to organise your life and maximise productivity. You can use it solo (like I do) or with your team or family to assign tasks to one another. Its free plan is limited, and many of its standout features are available only under the premium or business plans. Doist (the team behind Todoist) offers a generous 30-day free trial of the paid plans, and I signed up to pay for the premium plan before my trial was over.

I’m doing a deep dive into the Todoist features I use and how I make them work for me.

Todoist Features I Rely On

Projects to organise tasks

You can sort your tasks into ‘projects’ of your choosing. Since I use Todoist for work and personal tasks, my main projects are the big umbrellas of my life — personal, content studio, freelance work, Buffer (where I’m a community host), and learning. Some of them have sub-projects within. For work, they’re either admin or literal projects for clients, and for personal tasks they’re areas of life such as health and finances.

projects

One of my favourite ‘projects’ is birthdays, a pro tip from Doist’s head of marketing, Brenna Loury. I currently have 72 birthdays of extended family, friends, and their kids that Todoist reminds me of every year (more on recurring tasks later).

tweet from Todoist head of marketing Brenna Loury

Labels & filters for customisation

I assign labels to different tasks as the first step to filtering my tasks. While tasks can only live in a single project, they can have as many labels as you need them to.

labels

Using a combination of labels, projects, and due dates, you can set up custom filters to view your tasks. You can mark important filters as favourites so you see them high up on the app’s menu.

I used labels and due dates to create the filter ‘Payments Due Today’ and marked it as a favourite so I always know when these urgent tasks are due.

menu

Priority flags to distinguish urgent, important, and other tasks

You can divide your tasks into priority levels using Todoist’s priority flags. I use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritise tasks into:

  1. Red flag/Urgent and important (I must complete these on the due date)
  2. Orange flag/Important but not urgent (I’d like to complete these on the due date, but if I need to reschedule by a day or two it’s okay)
  3. Blue flag/Urgent but not important (I’ll do these after red and orange flag tasks are done)
  4. No colour/Neither urgent nor important (If it’s neither, it doesn’t make it to my list)
priority flags

The colour-coding of priority levels makes it easy to see which tasks I need to complete first and which ones to handle later in the day.

Recurring due dates for repeating tasks

Birthdays, bills, and taxes come around at regular intervals, and you can set recurring due dates in Todoist so the app reminds you of them like clockwork. Todoist uses natural language to set due dates, so you can just type in ‘Pay cell phone bill on every 22nd ’ and you’ll get a reminder on the 22nd  of every month.

recurring tasks

That’s all there is to it. Some tasks—like taxes—come around less frequently (thankfully!), and Todoist will understand instructions like ‘every year’ or even ‘every 3 months’.

Comments for notes & links

You can add comments and attachments to individual tasks as well as projects. I can see this being fantastic for teams that use Todoist together, and it’s useful for solo Todoist users too. I use this feature in projects for quick access to links and files I need often.

comments

In tasks, I often use comments to save notes for myself and links specific to the task (such as my cell phone provider’s bill payment website).

Browser extension to save important web pages

The browser extension lets you save websites as tasks. Todoist will save the task as a link to the website for you to access it easily. You can set the due date, project, labels, and priority directly from the browser extension when adding the task, or you can edit it later.

browser

It’s most useful for me in Notion, which I use to collaborate on a client’s social media calendar. I use the browser extension to add a card that needs my attention as a Todoist task. When I need to come back to it, I just click the link from Todoist instead of searching for the card in Notion.

Gmail add-on for purposeful email habits

This is one of Todoist’s newer features that has helped make it easier to reply to emails at a later date. When I read an email that I need to reply to in detail, I use the add-on to save it as a task from my web browser or phone’s Gmail app. I set the due date, project, and priority (you can’t label tasks from here, unfortunately).

Just like with the browser extension, this add-on will save the task as a link to the email. When the due date comes around, I just click the task, go straight to the email, compose my message, and hit reply.

gmail add on

Integrations for automation

Todoist integrates with Zapier, which makes it easier to collaborate with people while working in other apps. Each of my Zapier workflows (called Zaps) ends with a task in my Todoist.

I’m currently working with a client, designer, and developer in Trello to check for bugs in WordPress before our project goes live. I’ve set up two Zaps to notify me when something needs my attention in Trello:

  1. When someone mentions me in a comment
  2. When a card is marked as ‘done by the development team’ so I (aka the content team) can check and approve it

I’ve set up the Zap so the tasks’s comments link to the Trello card, and I can go to it directly from Todoist.

zapier

Todoist is a feature-rich app, and that might seem overwhelming after reading this. It helped me to experiment, figure out what features are useful for my workflow, and optimise how I use them.

I’d love to know how you’ve set up your Todoist (or any task list app you use), or if you prefer a pen and paper list!

Feature photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

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