Mamoon Rashid, PhD

Learning and assessment enthusiast, researcher, entrepreneur and global career consultant.

© Mrashid.Net 2020.

Mamoon Rashid, PhD

Learning and assessment enthusiast, researcher, entrepreneur and global career consultant.

P for procrastination? 

One of the best premium apps that I ever used is Todoist. It’s a light-weight, cross-platform personal to-do-list management software which offers a free basic version to try with. I should admit my talent of forgetting things easily. I read somewhere, all genius people have this trait in common, and since then my tendency of forgetfulness slowly escalated to be my habit, until I met Todoist. I have experimented with many things including Google docs, spreadsheets, notepads and even the classical scribbling on paper followed by carrying that in the pocket. Things only got messier. This $3-a-month, pay-yearly app is a great solution to this never-ending loop of falling behind or procrastination. A few days ago, I wrote a post in my Linked-In account happily extolling the handy services I receive from Todoist, and Jamie Cyphers convinced me to jot down some thoughts with possible graphics to give it a shape of a blog, which is why I am writing this. I am writing this review solely based on my personal experience.
Interested readers can quickly go to the Youtube channel of time-management coach Carl Pullein and watch Todoist review.

I am highlighting the features that I find helpful and adore at Todoist.

The interface and the short-codes.

You can use the app as a desktop application in Windows and Mac, as mobile app in Android and iOS devices and as a plug-in with your favorite browser. I am a Chrome person and I simply keep the first tab of my browser always loaded Todoist. I just hit Ctrl+1 to reach my first tab and quickly glance at my pending things to be done. It also has a great search option (1) where you can use # or @ sign to link to specific label or project, a pi-chart (2) to visually show what fraction of today’s target you achieved (a tick mark for completion of day’s target, as you see in this picture), total earned points (3) to give you a reward of staying on the plan, excellent navigation area (4) and the working area (5) where the contents may be arranged in any desired order. It also automatically changes the color of the scheduled time to thick red if you don’t mark it done after the due time (6). Overall, the interface provides most of what I need.
Well, I actually miss something here. I miss the classical calendar-like view that Google calendar presents. I sent an email to Todoist two years ago when I first purchased the app inquiring this matter and their customer service replied with a tone of optimism that someday they would be able to enable the calendar-like view in Todoist.

The unexplored power of comments associated to the tasks

Once a task is created (7), you can add comments to that as many as you wish (8). The comments are equipped with incredible features such as attaching files (9) and recoding a voice instruction (10). For instance, I can create a task “Pay the medical bill by calling Dr. Feelwell tom 11a #money”, and then attach the mail I received from Doctor’s office as an attachment. I can simply press the mic icon and record my voice narration. These attachments are saved in their server and auto-synced with all the other devices. Finally, you can insert icons by typing a key-word in the parentheses. For instance, writing star inside a bracket (11) creates something like this (11a):

Multiple people may comment in a collaborative project and their comments may come one under another. I collaborate other people through Todoist, and I enjoy this feature.
What I think Todoist should include here is, ability to tag people and send notification. I use Facebook group to collaborate professional groups where we can tag people and they receive notification. I wish that same feature could be enabled here too.

A wide range of shortcuts

Perhaps you noticed above that I wrote “tom 11a” which means as you guessed 11 AM tomorrow, and then #money, which is a label for my personal “money management” category where this imaginary task should belong to. Just the letter q is to add a new task, the letter a to add a task inside any project or specific day, and while editing the task, just hit Ctrl+M to add relevant comment. So nice!

Behold your productivity before your eyes

Clicking on the top pi chart or the tick mark (2) at the top right opens this productivity view window. You can view the number of tasks so far completed, and what they were (12), day or week-wise activities, and also “karma” (13). I can also see that my daily target is 8 tasks, but for this particular day I finished 12 tasks (14), if I consistently outperform my target then I may raise the level of goal (15 and 17). It also shows how my previous seven days went (16). It clearly shows that I performed fewer on Fri and Sat, and then returned to the track and kept exceeding my target (I pat on my back).

Monitor your “Karma”

There are different levels of Karma expertise in Todoist. Each level has its own title and icon (18). At this moment, I am an “Expert”, since I so far bagged 8005 points (3). The trend of Karma (19) gives you a nice visualization of how you are progressing to the next level. As you can see, I am 1995 points away from the next level (20).

Kudos to the Karma

Todoist uses some algorithm to assign a level of Karma to the user, and all the levels are seen (21) with their point values. You can also see your current level (22) and the latest, minute-by-minute updates (23). I don’t fully understand how they justify how many points one should receive for a certain accomplishment (24), but I definitely know that there are penalties for procrastination (25). Overall, this is a reward-pouring gamification of the management of personal to-do lists.

All projects at a glance

The search feature (26) of Todoist is quite strong (well, I wish it could be stronger and equipped with some advanced, Google-like features). As you can see, I can use the # tag before ACP to pull all the labels that I have containing the phrase ACP (27). They may be color-coded (28), or even icon-marked (28a). Adding icon is not possible from Windows version (till date), and you need a Mac or iPhone to do this editing. Small numbers next to labels in top left (29) gives you an idea how far you are behind the target. From this picture you understand that although I finished my today’s target of 8 tasks, I have still 24 carried over tasks hanging from my neck (29). Not sure if this impacts my Karma points. It also has a feature of creating nested categories of projects (30) and foldable indenting for easy identification. I have a section project folder called Self Coach (30a) where I spend some time in reading books, brushing up my GRE vocabulary, watching short videos in Lynda (oh, another best example of paid subscription) and follow some Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Everything altogether help me to keep my projects up and running, and prevent my recidivism of procrastination.

What Todoist does not have

Well, Todoist is not a project management app, per se. It is more like a personal-level to-do list management app. I can only assign a task to a specific time point, but I can not add a task as a child or dependent on another task (don’t know the technical term of this). Also, I cannot create a duration of a task. It’s just binary: either I finished it or not. But we all know that there is a subjective response to most of the cases, such as I finished composing the email, but has not actually SENT it. Will you call this task not done at all? Perhaps not.
In a nutshell, I think Todoist is a great app that people may use to boost their personal and professional level performance.

January 26, 2019.
Oakwood, VA.

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