My first month with a task management app

tl;dr

I have chosen to use Todoist because it’s super simple and yet extremely powerful.
Simple: you can quickly onboard it and populate it with your todos.
Powerful: thanks to filters and projects, you can build your own productivity method on top of it.

Why Todoist

To be honest, this was not my first choice. Knowing some colleagues using Trello, Evernote and Asana, I have started to install and play a bit with these ones. But I didn’t like the user experience and quickly uninstalled them. Thanks to Google’s recommendation, Todoist has shown up as an alternative.

  • specify a due date
  • create a recurring task
  • set a priority
  • assign the task to a project
  • attach many tags
  • you’re in a hurry and just want to track something: you add a simple task like “Do my expenses
  • you have more time and want to create a recurring task: just type “Do my expenses every month p2 #routines @work
  • should repeat every month (I’m always amazed by the natural language processing here :) )
  • is a “priority 2”
  • belongs to the “routines” project
  • and has the “work” label

Getting the first tasks done

In the previous example, you have seen that Todoist supports many ways to organise your tasks:

  • everything in the Inbox 😱
  • by projects
  • by tags
  • by priority
  • Private: my personal tasks
  • Pro: everything related to my job
  • Repeat: every recurring task, because when I look in #Private and #Pro to reprioritise the tasks, I don’t want to see the ones that are just repeating.

Continuously improving

Another interesting thing about Todoist is that the website offers many related resources.

Where I am today

In terms of method I have introduced a few more things, but I try to keep things as simple as possible. Just with my base projects (Pro, Private, Repeat) and the p1 priority, I could improve my progress on a lot of my routines and small tasks, but I was lacking something regarding long term projects.

  • a “Priorities” project where I list what I would like to achieve during the current week
  • a @morning label and an @evening label that I assign to the routines I do before starting my day (e.g. “Exercise 30min”) and when I end it (e.g. “Empy my inbox”, “Identify my priority for tomorrow”…)
  • This week priorities: so that I keep them in mind
  • @morning routines
  • Pro tasks for today
  • Personal tasks for today
  • @evening routines
  • Priorities backlog: so that I keep in mind what will come next

Benefits

After just one month I have seen a lot of benefits.

  1. The obvious one is that I can easily add tasks and track them. So I’m less prone to forget anything now.
  2. Same applies for routines: I have a lot of them (daily, weekly, monthly…). It could sound a bit overwhelming, but in fact, I feel that it reduces my cognitive load.
  3. Managing my current routines has led me to adopt new ones that I was thinking about for years:
    Journaling: I take a moment every evening to write about my day.
    Reading: I now take some time to read a book every day (the task is about reading >10 pages).
    Learning: I take 10min a day to improve my English vocabulary.
  4. The priorities help me to focus on my goals, like writing this article ;)
  • Start simple: the tool and method you choose are here to help you, they shouldn’t be one more burden.
  • Iterate: don’t try to achieve an ideal setup from the beginning. Start with something simple, see if it works, i.e. that you’re getting things done. Change only if you feel that something is missing.
  • Start to describe your tasks with a verb: just a word may not be enough to remember what you wanted to do.

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Sébastien Georget

Sébastien Georget

Architect lead at Adevinta. Interested in social-architecture and related topics (Domain driven design, team topologies...)