How I use Todoist.

Here's a guest video blog I did for Francesco D'alessio, who runs a fantastic YouTube productivity channel. (Well worth checking out for some great tips and tricks) 

The topic of the video is how I use Todoist on a day to day basis and how I organise my 'stuff'. Check it out, and if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I will try and answer them for you.  


Organising Your To-dos

One of the key parts in my latest book, Your Digital Life (Amazon / iBookstore), is separating out regular routine work and real projects - things that take your life further forward. 

Most people who follow the GTD methodology don't do this. They group all their actions into individual projects and then find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of projects they have to complete. This results in losing focus on the things that really matter and the things that move their life forward. 

To avoid this, I recommend you put all your routine tasks into one project called "Routines" with recurring dates for when they are due to be completed. Ideally, if your to-do list manager allows you, you should sub-categorise these into "daily", "weekly" and "monthly" recurring tasks. Your remaining projects will then be the projects that will improve your life and move you further forward. 

Doing this allows you to focus your attention on the real, life changing, life improving projects and you can forget about your routines because they will come up into your daily task list as and when they are due. 

A screenshot of how I organise my routines in  Todoist

A screenshot of how I organise my routines in Todoist

To set this up all you need do is make a list of your regular routine tasks such as 'take dog for walk' or 'prepare sales figures for last week', and then put these tasks into their relevant sub-category (daily, weekly, monthly etc). The idea is that tasks you have to do on a regular basis should be treated as a routine and not as a project. Projects should be exclusively for things that will move your life to a better place. 

To help you with this, I have created a downloadable sheet you can use to help guide you through the process. It may take you a few days to get everything down, but the effort will be worth it. Once your routines are separated and dated you are not going to forget to do them and it will free up your mind to focus on the things that really are important. Routines should be the things you don't need to think about, they should just happen. the things you should be thinking about are the projects that will make you a better person and help you to achieve great things. That is where your mental energy and creativity should be focussed.  

 

You can download the sheet here

My top three Todoist filters

If you pay the premium upgrade for Todoist ($29.00 per year) you open up the world of filters. (in addition to many other great features)  Filters in Todoist allow you to see your tasks in many different ways. For example, you may wish to see only those tasks that you have assigned a priority of 1 and 2 (these would be flags). In this case you can create a filter that shows only tasks that have priorities 1 and 2 (p1, p2). Alternatively, you may wish to see tasks for your phone and your laptop (@phone, @laptop). With filters you can create some amazing views that can help you focus only on the tasks you are able to do at that moment. 

What you get extra for Todoist Premium

What you get extra for Todoist Premium

Here are a list of my top 3 filters:

1. Dashboard

My dashboard filter shows tasks that are due today and in my inbox (inbox tasks for me do not have a due date assigned). I use this filter at the end of the day when I am closing off my tasks. This way I can see all the tasks I have not completed for the day as well as all the tasks I have collected throughout the day. This allows me to use just one view to reassign a due date and process my inbox. 

2. Today AM

My Today Am filter is used only in the mornings. I usually have between fifteen and twenty tasks set for each day. When viewed on a smartphone (which is how I view my tasks during the day) this list can look overwhelming, so to make my list appear much more manageable, I assign tasks a label "@AM". This then allows me to filter out tasks I can only do in the afternoon or evening and make my today list much smaller. It has the added benefit of giving you a great feeling when you have closed out all your AM tasks before lunch-time. 

3. ACTION THIS DAY

This filter is used to show the tasks that I absolutely must get done today. This has a priority 1 and due today. Most days I would not have more than three tasks in here, but it is the first filter I open in a morning because at the start of the day I want to know what I have to achieve today. 

I hope you found this useful. I would have liked to have given you the formulas for these filters, but as my labels  and how I use flags will be different from yours, I suggest you head over to the Todoist filters help page to create some of your own based on your own labels and priorities. 

Due Dates...

There are a lot of articles written about using due dates in your organisation system, and reading these can cause a lot of confusion. The confusion originates from the two different approaches that are recommended. The first approach tells you to set due dates for all the tasks that you want to achieve on a specific day. The second approach is to not set any due dates except for tasks that absolutely must be done on a specific day. 

Over the years, I've tried both methods, and have settled on setting due dates only for things that absolutely have to be done on a specific day. The reason I chose this approach is because when I do have a 'do or die' task, that task is highlighted in my daily list. Everything else are tasks that I would like to do that day, but nothing will die if I don't get round to them. I find this approach is much less stressful than trying to get everything done that I have assigned for the day. It also means I can largely forget about my daily list after I have taken a look at it first thing in the morning because I rarely have more than one or two tasks that have to be done that day. These tasks I try to get done as early as possible so that the rest of the day feels stress free and relaxing, no matter how busy the day is. 

If you are a Todoist user, one of the great things about Todoist is that if you do not assign a due date it does not show up in your "Today" list. If you follow the approach of only assigning due dates to tasks that must be done that day, then your "Today" view will never be overwhelming and that will help to motivate you to get those "Today" tasks done as soon as you possibly can. 

In Todoist, to assign tasks that you would like to get done that day, you can use the priority labels, this means that once you have completed your must dos, you can switch views to the priority you have assigned for tasks you would like to get done that day. A quick tip here is to not use the red priority for these tasks. Save the red priority (priority 1) for special tasks that may come up during the day that you need to get done that day. I would suggest you use priority 2 (blue) for these tasks.

Of course, you could always use the labels for this too. I think using priorities would be a little quicker to assign, but there's nothing stopping you from using labels to allocate tasks you would like to get done that day. 

The point though it to manage your tasks for the day so that your list is not overwhelming when you look at it. You want to be motivated, not having the feeling of dread about the tasks that you think you have to get done that day.