How I use Todoist



Todoist is one of the most popular task management tools out there. It’s been around for quite some time, so it’s reliable and the team behind it is always working on improving it.

While it can be used by teams to organize their work, I still like to just use it individually. They’re doing a great job maintaining a product that works for both kinds of users (teams & individuals) without making it feel overwhelming or bloated (like many of the other project management tools in my opinion).

In this article, I highlight the features I like the most about this tool, and how I use it for both my life and work. Since this article’s purpose is not to give a comprehensive look on the tool, I recommend taking a quick tour around their website (or better yet, playing around with the app) in order to get the most out of this write-up. But that’s definitely not a prerequisite and you can still read through regardless.

The main features I rely on

1. Projects

Todoist allows you to create/archive projects, which are collections of tasks that you can group together under one goal. You can also nest up to 4 levels of projects, which provides a very clean way for organization. Other features that come with projects that I really like include:

  • Sections - You can use these sections as a way to divide your tasks inside a project for even better organization. For example, you can have a project called “Trip to X”, and inside, you can divide it into sections such as [“Preparation”, “Packing”, “Documents to bring”, etc.]
  • View as a board - If you happen to be a Kanban whiz, Todoist allows you to view your projects as Kanban boards. This actually makes use of the Sections feature, where each section will be treated as a board “column”.

2. Scheduling

Of course, a task management tool is useless without a scheduling feature. So Todoist allows you to add due dates to your tasks with ease. Other features iclude:

  • Repitition - Tasks can be repeated, and the best thing about it is the Natural Language Processing feature that comes with it. You can totally do something like “every last Saturday of each month”, or “every Monday and Tuesday at 3pm” and Todoist will interpret them correctly and schedule the tasks for you.
  • Today view - Shows you, well, what tasks you have for today.
  • Upcoming view - Tasks you schedule for the future are certainly not lost in the app. You can use the “Upcoming” view, which allows you to navigate a calendar and see what tasks you have for any day. You can even easily move the tasks around for re-scheduling.
  • Calendar integration - Todoist gives you the option to sync your tasks with the calendar of your choice. This is a 1-way integration though, which means that you get to see your tasks on the calendar but not the other way around (i.e. you won’t see your calendar’s events in the “Upcoming” or “Today” views).

3. Labels

While Todoist gives you Projects to group tasks together under a shared goal, it also gives you labels, which allow you to group tasks together across different Projects.

This is mainly to give context to your tasks. For example, you might have some tasks across different projects, but you know you can only do them when you’re at home. You can then create a label called “@home”, and assign it to these tasks.

Furthermore, Todoist gives you the ability to assign multiple labels to the same task. So you can assign something like “@home” and “@laptop” to a task to indicate that it can be done at home, but that it also requires you to be on your laptop.

4. Filters

This is one of the features that makes Todoist stand out for me. It’s one more way for grouping tasks together, but this time it’s according to custom criteria you define.

For example, let’s say you have some tasks which have “@home” label assigned, other tasks which have “@laptop” label assigned, and some others which have both labels assigned. What if you want to have a view for the last case? You can totally create a custom filter like “@home & @laptop”, and it will provide you with exactly that.

But it doesn’t only cater to such simple criteria. You can do fancy things like: [written in English for simplicity] tasks that belong to Projects X or Y and have a priority of 1 with @home label assigned, or that have any priority and @laptop label assigned, and exclude tasks that have subtasks or that don’t belong to any section. I recommend going through their guide on using Filters to really see how powerful it can get.

5. Custom sorting

Todoist recently released this feature, and it was a game changer. This feature allows you to change the way the tasks are separated in a certain view.

For example, in the Today view, there’s a high chance you will have multiple tasks from different projects scheduled. Instead of viewing them as a big overwhelming list, you can set a custom view to separate the tasks by Project, Label, Priority, and more. You also get to switch between ascending and descending order. This can also work in pretty much every other view inside the app; Inbox, a Project view, a Label view, or even a Filter view.

One thing to note though, is that in a Project view, if you happen to have some sections already separating your tasks, and you set a custom sorting view, then it will override your sections. But not to worry, you can always switch back and you won’t lost your sections.

If you were using Todoist before this feature, then you might understand how cumbersome it was having to create many custom filters with complex queries to get said views on your own. But luckily now Todoist unlocks them for you out of the box.

6. Tasks Properties

Tasks are the simplest building blocks inside Todoist. But despite their simplicity, they come packed with powerful properties. Some of which include:

  • Subtasks - You can nest up to 5 levels of subtasks for each task. The nice thing is that each subtask is treated as a normal task, so it can have all of the great properties mentioned in this section.
  • Priorities - You can assign priorities to tasks, ranging from 1 (highest) to 4 (no priority). They have a visual element to them as well which makes these tasks stand out in the views. Highest priority tasks have a red color, medium ones have a yellow color, low ones have a blue color, and no priority ones have the normal white/grey-ish color.
  • Comments - You can add as many comments to a task as you wish. This comes in handy when you want to store reference links for example, or when you simply just want to jot down some notes that relate to a certain task.
  • Attachments - While I don’t use this feature much, you can add attachments (files) to tasks like you would with an email. It can come in handy when you want to remember using a certain document for example before working on a certain task.
  • Reminders - You can ask Todoist to remind you of tasks, whether by email or by a simple notification. You can also add multiple reminders for the same task, and the reminders can even be repeated.

7. Color Coding

Projects, Labels & Filters can all have color codes. These are just tiny colored icons attached to each of them, but they provide a clean way for separating things apart. Todoist has around 20 colors that you can choose from.

8. Favoriting

As your lists of Projects, Labels or Filters grow big, there might be a chance that only a handful of them are the ones you most frequently work with. Todoist allows you to “favorite” projects, labels and filters, and they appear in a separate section on the left panel for quick and easy access.

9. Inbox

Last but not least, one of the most important pages in this tool is the Inbox. This is where you can add tasks that don’t belong to any projects (yet). It’s very useful for when you want to add something quickly on the go and you don’t have much time to think about the proper place to put it in. It’s treated like any other project, so you can still add Sections, set Custom Sorting, and schdeule tasks that belong there as you normally would.

How I use Todoist for life

The features I mentioned in the previous section are the ones I most frequenly use almost on a daily basis. But there are certain things that I can still highlight independently in this section:

  1. Color codes: I use them as mental anchors to group similar entities together. For example, yellow projects are side projects I’m working on, orange projects are habits, blue projects are things I want to study for work, and so on. I use this because [1] it provides a very neat way of separating things visually, and [2] to overcome the 4 levels of nesting limit of projects. By using color codes, I get 1 level for free without wasting my balance, where I otherwise would have if I had to create root level projects like “Side Projects, “Habits”, and “To Study”.
  2. Custom Sort - By Project: This is the one I use pretty much all the time, especially in the Today view. I like separating things by project because this is the natural way my brain thinks about todos. It’s been working very well for me so far since at a glance I would know how I can organize my day based on the projects I need to work on (especially when there are projects or tasks that require different levels of energy throughout the day).
  3. The “Planner” Project: Sometimes, there are tasks that I wish to work on throughout a certain week/month/<insert period here>, but which I don’t have specific dates to schedule them on. The easiest thing to do here is to create a label called “@this-week” (or “@this-X” for that matter), and assign it to said tasks. But sometimes I want to go even further than that. What if I just want to set goals for a certain period that I don’t even have specifc tasks created for? For example “Finish something on the blog”, or “Read 3 times”. In this case, let’s say I would like to finish them this week, then I use a root level Project I created called “Planner”, and I nest a Project under it called “This Week” and I add my tasks there. I then favorite it so that it appears on the left panel and so that it’s always visible.
  4. Work around for repeating tasks with subtasks: There’s an unintuitive limitation in Todoist, where if you have a repeating task with subtasks, the subtasks will remain completed with every repitition if you happen to complete them earlier. This would require you to untick them each time, which is a waste of time in my opinion, and also affects your activity log in the app. So what I do is that for every repeating task that I have which contains subtasks, I don’t add the subtasks directly to it, but instead I add a subtask called “Template”, and attach the subtasks to it. Each day (or generally each repitition period), I would simply duplicate this subtask with 1 click, and I would tick the actual subtasks from there. It’s still a bit unnecessary, but it’s the best I can do at the moment until they fix this.

How I use Todoist for work

I use it no differently than I do with life tasks, but there’s an important point I wanted to highlight here. I would have loved if Todoist provided a way where you can have different “Workspaces” under the same account, but unfortunately it doesn’t and I’m not sure if it’s on their features plan. I would use this to separate my work tasks from life tasks, because I personally don’t like having a root level “Work” Project and another similar one called “Personal”. For different reasons:

  1. I would lose 1 level of nesting. This might not be a problem for many, but I go to the extremes when I organize my stuff and I would make use of infinte levels of nesting if I could (I honestly don’t know why Todoist doesn’t support that when other tools do, but that’s not a deal breaker for now).
  2. If I have personal and work tasks assigned for a day, they would all be visible together in the same views (i.e. Today or Upcoming), unless I create some custom Filters. This can easily get messy and I would end up with a long list of Filters if I wish to solve this, between which I will keep going back and fourth throughout the day. My goal is to spend as little time as possible on my task management tool, and to exert as little effort as possible maintaining it.

What I did in this case is a workaround that has some good advantages, but also some very limiting disadvantages: I created another account using the Gmail trick - which is attaching a ‘+’ character at the end of the email, allowing it to be treated as a completely different email, but you would still get all of the emails on your regular inbox. i.e. assuming my email is, I signed up using

  • The pros: I have a separate custom workspace with all of my work todos, unpolluted by my life tasks.
  • The cons: [1] I can only sign in to it using a different browser or an Incognito window, both on my computer as well as my phone (which is manageable for now). The only problem is that any reminders I happen to set there would only be received as emails because I’m signed in with my personal account on the app. And [2], the most limiting problem, is that it’s still a completely different account, in the sense that if my personal account is paid, then I won’t be able to benefit from the perks on my work account unless I subscribe separately. Luckily, I haven’t needed the pro features for my work account so far, but we’ll see what will happen if I do.

Free vs. Pro

You can visit their pricing page for more information. But as a quick distilled summary, in the free version:

  • You can only have up to 5 Projects
  • You can only have up to 3 Filters (bascially it comes with a few default ones so you need to delete from them before you can add new ones)

This wasn’t enough for me, which is why I’m on the pro plan currently for my personal account. It costs around €4/month at the time of writing this.

Other great features that I didn’t mention

There are still tons of other features that I didn’t get to mention, for example:

  • Search feature across the entire app
  • Seeing every thing you do in an activity log (very handy when you want to see which tasks you completed on a certain day. You can even filter by Project)
  • Their Karma system, which is a great way to gain motiviation towards completing your tasks

and much more. I highly recommend playing around with the app.

No one size fits all

You can still do things differently than this. These are just some of the things that work for me and the features that I happen to use the most.

Try it out and build the system that works well for you iteritavely. And if you need more help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (contact info is on the about me page).

Thanks for reading this long post. If you liked it, I might post a follow up article on the rest of the tools that I use on a daily basis (such as Google Calendar, Notion, and others), so stay tuned. ✌️