Tools of the Trade // Todoist // Elembee.com

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.