My previous post about my bullet journal got me thinking of rapid logging, and got me thinking about how projects in Todoist aren't just working for me – and suddenly I found myself in another Todo App Crisis.
I have a friend that that shares the productivity bug with me and we chat a lot about idea. He sent me the link to The PARA Method which really screwed up my thinking but I felt like it gave me the permission to look at using more than one app to accomplish what I wanted. I then tried both Trello and OmniFocus and figuring out how they can fit into my paradigms of what I wanted to achieve. To make this shorter: I gave up looking at other apps and dug into the Todoist help a bit more. My final decision is to change how I am using Todoist.
I won't want to belabor points about Trello and OmniFocus – this is really on how I can start using Todoist better.
Use the web, dummy
I am now of the opinion that the Web App for Todoist is far superior than either the mobile or the Desktop apps, which is funny to me because the "apps" are really Electron apps so you would think they would be the same. But what I figured out is that the web app gives me so much more.
Rapid logging, for example, is so much easier through the browser:
- Type each task, one a time in a text editor, using the DSL if you want
- Copy all those lines to your clipboard
- Find the label or project you want those tasks in – or Inbox if you want
- Paste – the app will ask you if you want one task per line
And… that's it. If you wrote 100 tasks in the text editor, you now have 100 new tasks in Todoist.
But managing tasks is also easier on the web version simply because of the todoist-shortcuts add-on which basically puts the GMail shortcuts into Todoist. Obviously you can only do this in the browser.
One trick that works both on the desktop and in the browser is to Shift-Click on several tasks and you can edit many on once. What a time-saver!
Labels over Projects
One of the mind shifts that I had to change is that every task had to be in a Project and have a Due Date. I will say that most things do need to have those things, but I found that some things I just want to get done, and maybe one task will take me a few days (say, like writing a blog post). Do what to just keep moving the date? Is that a project instead of a task? Well I had to really think about it.
I experimented with this before but now have started in earnest – using Labels instead of throwing things in a project. This way I can put a bunch of stuff in at once and not worry what project it goes into. Instead I give it a label right away. If I want to do it soon, I can leave it in the Inbox. If I don't want to, I can deal with it later by setting a due date. If I think it belongs in a project later on, I can do that too.
To do that, you have to harness the power of Filters. I've played with them long ago but now I really dug in and think they are the key to my effectiveness. Here is an excellent unofficial guide to writing a Todoist filter. My default view is now a filtered list called
tasklist that is simply :
overdue | (no date & #Inbox) | ( next 2 days )
I use that as my default view on my phone and as the default view in the Android widget (which is my usual default completion device). Works great – I can see the tasks without a Date and things due in the next couple of days.
One thing I did want from PARA is to keep track of my completed tasks. Todoist's interface doesn't make it easy to browse through completed tasks and that makes sense – it's not something you do often. But as PARA said – how can you review what you accomplished without have access? I found a IFTTT recipe that records each completed task into a Google Sheet with a link to the individual task in Todoist. I was going to do something fancy with that, but really having it in a Google Sheet is perfect – you can slice and dice it from there.
This seems to satisfy my changing needs .. it helps me put and manage a lot of tasks and helps answer my questions like "What have I done in the last year?" when I do my yearly job evaluation.
I stumbled onto a currently maintained cli for Todoist written in Go and I think I could use a lot of things in there.. but I had to compile it and then get an exception while running the initial sync. I'll keep mucking with that to see if I can get it going and how I can use it.