I’ve tried a lot of task managers. Todoist was the first task manager I used, back in 2015. I was very happy with it, got premium, but stopped using it about 1½ years later — so what happened?

The answer is rather simple; I got overwhelmed. Not by Todoist, but by the tasks. It may seem counter-intuitive to stop using a task manager when the tasks become overwhelming — and it is. Instead of tackling the growing number of tasks, I convinced myself that the problem was the tool; Todoist.

The journey

So I began a almost three year journey of using and switching task managers:

I used all apps on this list for some time, even got paid subscription for all of them but Asana. They all had their strength and weaknesses, I won’t go through them; because I don’t remember. And it doesn’t matter, the point is I stopped using them.

I also tried Clickup, Kanboard, Taskwarrior and Org Mode; but ended up not using them at all.

The list starts, and ends, with Todoist. In April 2020 I once more signed up with Todoist premium and have been using it since, not just having it — actually using it! ❤️

My Todoist productivity and karma

Why Todoist?

Spoiler alert: the problem I initially faced, had nothing to do with the tool — and everything to do with me. Instead of tackling the tasks I took the cowards way out, I simply made up a problem and tried to fix that instead.

So why Todoist? It just works, and most importantly; it doesn’t get in my way. It’s a simple, well designed app, that does one thing, and does it well — with minimum friction.

My Todoist setup

I won’t go into details on how I use Todoist, because there isn’t much to tell. I will say this; I use tags and priorities sparingly, and due dates generously. I’m also a big fan of sub-tasks.

I have a few simple rules; all tasks must be actionable, and not take more than a day. If they take longer, I break them up into sub tasks.

Tasks like “new car tires” are not actionable, I can not do “new car tires”. So instead I would create it like this:

  • Get new car tires
    • Figure out the dimension on the car tires
    • Call shop and order new car tires
    • Deliver car to have tires replaced
    • Pick up car from tire shop

Each item is actionable, and understandable on its own.

I only have a few filters that I regularly use;

  • Work week: ##Work & (overdue | next 7 days
  • Fossils: created before: -365 days
  • Today’s frog: p1 & today

Don’t get lost in how other people are using it, just start simple and go from there 🖖

[…] Don’t try to set up the “final” task managing system from the start. Because you have no idea yet what your system should look like. Don’t set up many TODO states and logging initially, before you actually have a feeling for what you working flow is. Don’t define a context tag “@computer” just because David Allen has one, even though you are sitting at a computer all the time anyway! Start by creating and managing a small TODO list and then develop your own system as the needs arises. I wrote Org-mode to enable this development process. — Carsten Dominik

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