How I use Todoist to stay productive

Being a solopreneur and work-from-home consultant, I routinely evaluate tools and methodologies to stay productive and focused, while maintaining the work-life balance.

Recently, I have started to use Todoist, an online task management app and to-do list. Todoist offers integration with lots of apps including Gmail, Google Drive and Dropbox that enhances productivity and makes it easier to manage the digital life.

How Todoist works:

Todoist allows task management through Projects, Labels and Filters. In Todoist, tasks represent actions that could have fixed, or recurring, due dates. A project is a collection of related tasks. Labels are used to present the context of the task, while filters are used to create views based on projects and labels.

Todoist Productivity Tips:

In order to get the best out of Todoist, and use it to become more productive, I have found these tips and hacks very useful.

Utilize the Inbox project. Todoist comes with a default Inbox project. This project can be used as the starting point. During my work day, I dump every idea and action item in the Inbox. Once the day ends and I am in review mode, items from Inbox are moved to relevant projects.

Email to Inbox: Todoist has a plugin for Gmail that turn emails into tasks. These tasks link back to the original email. More details on the link below

Add tasks in a project via email. Emails can also be turned into tasks by forwarding them to projects. Each project has a unique email address. The subject line will become the task name, and the body of the email will be added as a comment. All attachments smaller than 25MB will also be attached.

Add links. Urls saved in Todoist tasks are clickable. This is a great feature to save links for later reference.

List to tasks. It is possible to quickly generate a set of tasks from a list. Just copy and paste the list to an open task and Todoist will convert it to multiple tasks, one task per list item. This is a great time saver.

How I use Todoist:

todoist projects and labelsMy Todoist set up looks like this:

Projects:

  • Inbox: The starting point and the dumping ground. I use this project to dump all ideas, daily collections, emails etc. At end of the day, everything in Inbox is either acted upon or moved to the relative project.
  • Goals: My goals for this year, one of which is to become more proficient in Python.
  • Clients: Everything related to the clients go here.
  • Personal: This is for personal stuff including tasks that involve family and home.
  • Self Work: Contains the ever growing list of my solo projects.
  • Routine: This is divided into three sub projects, daily, weekly, and monthly. Routines are things that I have to do due to necessity. Routines include paying bills, buying groceries etc.
  • Someday / Maybe: Tasks without deadlines. This includes books to read, videos to watch, places to visit etc.

Labels:

Labels give context to tasks. A task can have multiple labels.

  • Home: Covers everything related to home and family.
  • Morning: Morning is the time of day when my energy levels are high. This is why tasks that require high energy (client work, coding etc) are done @Morning. I follow the Eat that Frog principle, which teaches to do the most difficult task first. [More about it here]
  • Day: Tasks that require low energy (reading news, checking email, social media etc) are assigned @Day
  • Evening: Late evenings are for coding, planning and reading.
  • Errands: All chores and routine activities are marked as @Errands
  • Ideas: Every time I have an idea for a product feature, or anything at random, it is stored with @Ideas for future review.
  • Payments: All payable tasks are tagged @payments.
  • Waiting: Tasks that require input from others are marked @Waiting.

A word of caution: Use Todoist to manage your life, don’t live by it – meaning, you don’t have to check the app in every 5 minutes.

Do you Todoist? If yes, I would like to know about your setup.

Resources:

Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time [get from here]

Todoist blog is the first stop to learn more about the features and use cases. It has an excellent usage guide, a tutorial on labels and filters, and the email plugins.

The Reddit sub is another great place to learn about Todoist. [link here]

Carl Pullein’s Youtube channel is a good resource for Todoist, and productivity tips in general. Couple of videos that I recommend are, this and this.

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1 thought on “How I use Todoist to stay productive

  1. I quibble with your “Projects.” Your projects aren’t really projects. They are just areas of focus or of interest. A project has a beginning and end, and is defined by an desired outcome. “Personal” and “Goals,” for example, aren’t projects. They are more suited to be labels.

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