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:
My Todoist set up looks like this:
- 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 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.
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”
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.