23 April 2020

Todoist: Eradicating my use of labels

Every so often it pays to take a step back and evaluate your productivity. Ask yourself what is going right, and what is stopping you being more productive? For me that time is now, during the enforced Covid-19 lockdown. Except that I've taken it a step further by looking at my to do list app of choice - Todoist - and seeing if I can use it better. 

I've had a method of using Todoist for about a year now. It involved the use of a single project for most tasks, and labels to categorise them by those related to my work or personal life. It has worked pretty well, but it was time to a change. Many new features having been added to Todoist in recent months, not least the ability to add sections to projects, which I'd not taken a serious look at. As a result I've managed to simplify my Todoist setup significantly. A bonus of this is that I've managed to do away with my use of labels.

My Todoist Navigator
As a result my navigator looks cleaner and a lot less cluttered. Apart from the default views, I've added some favourite projects and filters near the top. It could be argued that as I've only a five projects, that adding them here wasn't strictly necessary, at least not all of them, but for now they're there. Below that are my projects. I've three main projects for tasks related to various areas of my life, one to act as a shopping list, and one for dates (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, historical events, etc.).

The major difference in the three main projects is my use of sections. Take the Personal project as an example. Here I've added sections for various task types (e.g. Finance, Health & Fitness, Household, etc.). The beauty of this is that this was what I used labels for previously. By adding sections, I've managed to eradicate the use of labels completely, which makes adding tasks that much quicker.

The method of adding tasks is another change. Previously I often used to add tasks directly into a project, rarely using the Inbox. Now I always add new tasks to the Inbox. Why? Two reasons.
  • Firstly the Inbox was designed to be a quick and easy repository for all tasks. Once there you can decide what to do with them. Think of it as a kind of task backlog in agile development terms. So why not use it utilize it in this way. 
  • Secondly moving a task from the Inbox to a project's subsection is as easy is 1-2-3. Just select the "Move to Project" menu item and select the project and section.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this share. But adding things to sections is unfortunate not available on the mobile IOS version which is very important if you are a mobile user. I liked the .inbod method and the GTD methodology but why not organize everything right away if you know where it is going. The best feature of Todoist by far is the quick add and unfortunately there is not a quick way to add something into sections from the quick add. For this reason I still have to stick to projects unfortunately as much as I would love to go to sections. I can just type #Finance or #Technology and it is there. I used to dump everything into inbox but it would take to much time daily or weekly to clean it up. Todoist is a great todo task software but they have some really pain points that frustrate me.

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    1. The point of the GTD methodology is not to organise tasks straight away. Adding tasks to the Inbox as you think of them is a way of reducing stress. By looking at my Inbox two times a day, I can either action tasks if they are quick, or move them to a project.

      I agree it would be good if the mobile version allowed tasks to be moved to a section. I don't use the mobile version that much, just for completing tasks when away from my desk.

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