Tools of the Trade // Todoist

Tools of the Trade // Todoist //

You know how I said this “Tools of the Trade” thing would just be two posts? Well, I lied. The list was getting rather long, so I figured I would make it an occasional series instead. Up first (second?), the app that keeps me sane: Todoist.

I know everyone in the blogosphere is obsessed with TeuxDeux, and with good reason — it’s well-designed, and the functionality isn’t overly complex like so many apps out there. If you need something simple to keep up with a daily list and maybe some someday tasks, it’s great for that. But after a while, it just didn’t do enough for me — I needed the simple functionality of a master to-do list, but I also needed to be able to quickly see what stage each of my client projects were in.

I tried a number of apps before I settled on Todoist, and I haven’t looked back. I love that Todoist is more than a simple to-do list, without being overly fussy — it seems like so many apps out there require you to learn their language and adapt your system to their (usually complex) one. Todoist is like having several written lists, with the benefit that they can be magically combined as one through due dates. No tabs, tags, inboxes, weird acrobatics — it just works. And it’s pretty! You can use as many or as little of the features as you like, and it won’t clutter up your space.

You start by creating projects to keep related tasks together, then once you assign due dates, you can view what tasks need to be completed today and drag them around. I have separate projects for different stages of work, like initial design, revisions, development, other, so I can easily see how many similar tasks I have to complete at a given time and try to tackle them at once. I also have projects for business tasks, blog tasks, and even one for bills, which has a number of repeatable tasks so I don’t have to remember to add them to the list each month.

When I add a new task to my list, I always assign a due date for the Monday of the week I want to finish that task. Each Monday, I sort through the list in 7-day view and drag tasks that can be completed later in the week to other days. Then, each morning I sort my list according to priority. Anything that wasn’t completed the day before stays at the top of the list under a red heading, so I can drag it into place the next day. Since each project is color-coded with a dot to the right, I can see in the daily view which tasks can be grouped to work on at once. I can even set a priority level for certain tasks, which colors the checkbox and automatically moves it to the top (I usually just manually order my list, but it comes in handy when I have a task that absolutely must be finished that day — the red box is pretty hard to ignore!). I also opted to pay the $29/year for Premium so I can add relevant notes and uploads to a task (totally worth it).

How do you manage your to-do list?

Full disclosure: I’m not being compensated in any way to write this post. I’m just a huge fan of the product.

Meet the author

Hello! I’m Lisa M. Butler, and I offer straightforward web guidance for making it happen online. I got to where I am because of my website, and I want to help you get where you want to be. As a web designer and developer, I’ve guided my clients through the tech-y stuff, step by step. I’m here to share that same advice and guidance with you so you can get your website together and be awesome online.


  1. Patti says:

    This is new to me! I just stopped using teuxdeux and wunderlist had some syncing problems so I am excited to try this. Thanks Lisa!

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  2. Allyssa says:

    I think I need to check out Todoist again. I’ve tried it in the past, but there was just something about it I didn’t like.

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  3. Cindy says:

    Oh I need to check this out. We use asana professionally but keeping the lists separate was getting a little bogged down.

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  4. I will forever be thankful to you for letting me know about Todoist. It’s seriously a game changer.

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  5. Yes! I totally agree. Todoist is my project management app. I pay for premium, too! Though I thought it was only $29 a YEAR, which makes it even more of a no-brainer!

    The reason I did upgrade was because I can use a template for all my web design projects with the same set of markers I need to do (ie: first invoice, contract, first mockups, etc etc). It makes the whole process much quicker!

    I’ve also tried a million apps and this was my favorite for that kind of thing. For daily to dos, I rely on any.Do. I…have an app problem.

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
    • Ooops, I meant to write a year! Thanks for catching!

      How did you create your template for projects?

      ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
      • You go to the settings wheel and select the “export as a template.” I did this at the beginning of a new project so all the steps were there. Then for projects after that, just select “import from a template.” Easy but awesome!

        ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  6. Bethany says:

    This looks awesome! I’d been using Wunderlist for a while but it seemed like its more for shopping lists, etc. rather than project to-do lists and I eventually just started making checklists in Evernote. I just started using Weave, but I don’t know how I feel about it yet. I guess this is the answer! Thanks!

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  7. Jordan says:

    Love todoist! Tried every app under the sun but found this and it is perfect! I also recommend to everyone… And totally do that Monday thing too! Great rec!

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  8. Todoist changed everything for me too! I used Asana for a while, but I love the look and ease of Todoist much more.

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  9. Jessika says:

    My favorite todo list is Weave! Love it to death! I’m currently downloading it and I can’t wait to try it out…especially if you like it!

    Jess Classy | Design x lifestyle

    ReplyPosted on July 1, 2013
  10. Ohhhh I’m definitely going to have to check this out. I’ve tried countless “to-do” list apps and have quickly abolished them to go back to the paper & pen method.

    ReplyPosted on July 5, 2013
  11. Ashley says:

    I was using ToDoist for a while and then I kept getting blocked by not having premium. I might actually have to check it out now, especially reading about the template format in the comments. That is totally awesome. I think that would help me a lot with blog posts and making sure I’ve finished all the tasks needed for each one. I don’t blog every day so making a lists for each blogpost wouldn’t be too daunting right now.

    ReplyPosted on August 2, 2013
  12. Max says:

    I subscribed to a premium account only a few days ago and so far, I really like this.

    They have apps for all platforms which makes is a big plus for me.

    ReplyPosted on August 27, 2013
  13. Tiera says:

    I must’ve tried almost every app under the bus, and I could never really stick to one for long. But I’ve been loving Todoist for months now! It strikes the perfect balance between being very robust yet still simple to use. As I embark on more and more contract and freelance work, I’m sure it will become a more integral part of keeping me organized.

    ReplyPosted on September 4, 2013
  14. Vivian says:

    I’m a former Todoist user (from back when the iPhone app didn’t even exist). I switched to Teuxdeux because Todoist’s updates were super slow and customer support was horrible. I’m now getting to the point where my projects are getting too big for TeuxDeux and I’m looking to move back. Any comment on how Todoist’s customer support is now? Are updates happening faster?

    ReplyPosted on October 16, 2013
    • I’ve never had to use their customer support, but they are pretty responsive on Twitter. I think I’ve been using it for 2 years now? Not sure, but it seems like they’ve been making updates pretty regularly lately (though I’ve never been unhappy with the functionality offered — the updates have just been added bonuses for me).

      ReplyPosted on October 16, 2013

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