Todoist (Premium): Reviewed and Considered
I’m pretty tied to the Apple ecosphere of apps when it comes to productivity: OmniFocus, Drafts, MindNode, Ulysses, etc. Three major exceptions are Scrivener, Evernote, and Accordance. But otherwise–whether this has happened consciously or not–most of the apps I use regularly are Mac-only.
Todoist is the rare task management app that is available on every platform. And I mean every platform. It even has a Web-based interface, if you don’t want to have to fire up the app on your computer:
Not only that, it integrates with just about everything. This itself is reason to consider Todoist as a primary task management app.
In this post, I review Todoist Premium, considering at the end whether it could, for me, replace OmniFocus.
Here’s a short video from the makers of Todoist, which offers a quick overview:
What’s Awesome about Todoist
First, what’s awesome about Todoist.
1. It looks good. Really good.
Here it is in landscape mode on an iPad mini:
At first I thought it was overly simple, sort of blasé. But the more I’ve used Todoist, the more I appreciate the layout. No clutter, easy to read, pleasing to the eyes. (And you can tweak the color scheme, too.)
2. The sync: It Just Works.
Todoist’s sync across devices is natural and fast. It’s much more like Things than (previous versions of) OmniFocus. I don’t even really think about it, which is what you hope would be true. No manual anything required.
3. Todoist is everywhere (almost).
It’s the most ubiquitous and app-integrated task management app on the market. Look, it’s even in my Firefox browser!
There’s a Gmail plug-in, too. This, unfortunately, is only available with Chrome–which is too much of a CPU hog for me. But it looks good.
Todoist doesn’t offer a Mac Mail plug-in, but as you’ll see below, you can email a task right into a Todoist project, so that’s not a big deal.
4. Labels and Filters
I don’t know Todoist like I know OmniFocus, but Labels and Filters would appear to be the app’s heart and soul. Sure, there’s an Inbox you can use for GTD-style capture (from anywhere). Yeah, you can set up different Projects for organizing your tasks. But Labels allow you to assign contexts and anything else you like to your tasks (expected task duration?). Then you can filter your tasks by Labels or priority or any other saved search:
Annoying is the fact that when you create a new Label, if there are two words or more, Todoist automatically inserts an underscore. So one label of mine is now “Waiting_For.” I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it feels a little AOL-ish.
5. Easy task input
Todoist understands natural language, so entering tasks intuitively is no problem. It’s easy to enter tasks in rapid-fire fashion, too, so you can do a brain dump well with Todoist.
6. Email reminders
Todoist assigns an email address to a Project of your choice, so I can email tasks (or forward actionable emails) directly to my Inbox. This is a must-have for me in a task management app. You can include attachments, too.
Speaking of email… you can also have Todoist email you reminders of your tasks. At first I thought this was redundant (well… it is). But even though I’m seeing the same task twice (maybe a GTD no-no?), I have found the added reminder helpful.
What I Don’t Particularly Like about Todoist
1. The Premium, subscription-based model
Of course. It would be ridiculous to expect a sophisticated app with task notes, attachments, email reminders, fast sync, etc. to be free. There is a free Todoist, but it’s limited. Here’s some of what is in Premium, which is about $29/year:
But I’ve never liked subscription-based models. Sure, if you work for a big company that’s paying for it, I can see it working. But what users otherwise want to pay $150 to use the app for the next five years? Other apps with one-time purchases end up being cheaper. If you don’t have Premium, or let it expire, you can no longer add notes or attachments to your tasks–serious GTDers (and other task management obsessives) will need Premium.
2. The interface is not so customizable.
You can change your start screen, but not on iOS, that I could find. You’re pretty tied in to the layout Todoist gives you.
3. For GTDers: No weekly review option
My weekly review–a built-in feature of OmniFocus–is what allows me to set due dates sparingly, a key practice for effective project and task management. Todoist’s Karma is fun, but feels gimmicky. And their GTD page has suggestions for something like a weekly review (it would be easy enough to set up a recurring task for it, employing Filters and Labels as needed), but I have gotten so used to OmniFocus’s Review function that not having one already in the app is tough. But it won’t be a deal breaker for a lot of folks.
If I were to stop using Apple products tomorrow, I’d get Todoist up and running right away.
How does Todoist Premium rate with apps like OmniFocus and 2Do and Things? It’s right up there, and maybe—given its cross-functionality and fast sync—the best of the batch. But the subscription model is just something I can’t latch on to. Some will have no problem with this.
When I set out to write this review, I was planning to conclude it with, “Yet another app falls short of OmniFocus….” But Todoist really doesn’t. Sure, OF beats it in some regards, but Todoist outperforms OmniFocus in other key areas.
So if you’re one of those handful of disaffected OF users, or if, heaven forbid, you’re not keeping track of your commitments in writing at all–and if you have $30/year to spend–Todoist Premium might just be your new, sole task management app.