The Tools I Wish I'd Used When I Started My Business: Todoist
I wasn’t always organized and on top of my todos. In an effort to get a handle on things I tried out a handful of different tools and today you’re going to benefit from all of my experimenting! I’ll take you through the main tools I tried and why - if I was starting my business today from scratch - I’d go with Todoist to get myself off to a productive start!
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This is Part 6 in the “Tools I Wish I’d Used” series. You can find part 1 (G Suite) here, part 2 (Squarespace) here, part 3 (PromoRepublic) here, part 4 (Zoom) here, and part 5 (Book Like a Boss) here.
When I was living the corporate life I had a million to-dos to keep track of at any given moment, and a system that was in place to help me manage them, plus a team of people that kept me accountable. When I started my business it was like I suddenly forgot how to organize myself and my tasks.
I managed tasks partly with email (unread = needed to take action; read = done), partly with a paper notebook filled with random notes and a new checklist every few pages, and partly with my brain. Things were complete chaos. Those of you who know me these days will think that’s pretty hilarious. I knew I could be organized, I just needed to get a system in place, so I went looking.
I first looked at Trello. I lasted about 30 minutes scratching my head at my computer screen before logging out. If you’ve ever signed up and just frowned at the starter board, which is a couple of columns with ‘how to use this board’ cards and the ugliest blue background, you’ll know what I mean.
Sure, I’m a bonafide Trello lover these days, but I at the time couldn’t wrap my head around how to use it until much later I saw how someone else was using it, and then my mind was blown.
Todoist (first try)
I moved over to Todoist, which is a great to-do list app and at the time was one of the few that had Google Calendar syncing. I started using it diligently for several months but soon found the free plan restrictive: there were no task reminders and no ability to filter tasks (which is pretty crucial when you had as many todos as I did!). At the time I didn’t want to spend any money on upgrading so I went shopping again.
Next up was Asana. Everyone raved about it. I couldn’t believe there was a company offering a robust project management tool for free. I tried it for a couple of months before my brain firmly told me NO.
The way things were organized didn’t make sense to me - it was like there were 10 ways to access things. And it was far too easy to accidentally move, delete, or reorder tasks, and the seemingly-infinite ability to make sub-sub-tasks made my mind spin.
These days I’m an Asana Certified Pro. Ha - take that brain! To be completely honest it was totally the new Trello-like board layout that eventually made me take a second look, and once there I spent more time actually learning how to make it work effectively. But if I was re-starting my business I wouldn’t need the complexity that is Asana.
Todoist (second try)
I went back to Todoist and paid for their premium plan, which was only a few dollars a month. The price tag meant giving up a coffee each month but between the convenience, peace of mind, and increased productivity it was so worth it.
Todoist and the system I created around it definitely set me up for future business success by making sure that my client tasks could be separated from my internal tasks and from special projects. It also forced me to document what tasks in my business were recurring and how frequently they needed to happen.
I did eventually move back to Trello as my project management needs increased (and then on to Plutio as client onboarding and support became a priority!), but like I said if I was just starting out Todoist would be the perfect tool to get me organized.
Todoist has definitely become more robust in the years since I’ve used it regularly. Here are some of my favourite features:
Recurring due dates - a must have for those weekly/monthly/annual tasks
Create separate colour-coded projects - great for seeing what needs to be done at-a-glance and for sorting/filtering tasks
Inbox - a catch-all place to add tasks quickly so you (or your assistant - or vice versa!) can go back and schedule/prioritize
Today & Next 7 Days views - it’s critical not only to know what you are doing today, but also what important things are coming up
Filters - these let you filter tasks by priority, who it’s assigned to, if it’s missing a due date, and more. If you upgrade to a paid plan you can create your own custom filters with even more complex criteria
One click rescheduling - you can reschedule tasks for the next day with a single click, and you can do it for individual tasks or all of your overdue tasks
Reminders - these are a paid feature. If you keep Todoist open all day then you can probably live without this feature. But if you are on the go a lot and need email or app notification reminders then you’ll need to upgrade
Users - if you have a team, you can add up to 5 of them into your projects on the free plan; the paid upgrade gives you 25
Calendar sync - this is part of the paid upgrade, so if you need to manage your tasks around a lot of client meetings, events, or appointments you’ll want the upgrade
Karma - if you’re motivated by gamification, Todoist gives you little rewards the more productive you are :)
Integrations - Todoist integrates with over 70 other services like:
Google Drive, Dropbox
Zapier, Integromat, IFTTT
Google Home, Alexa
Toggle, Time Doctor, Clockify
Is Todoist for You?
YES - If you like seeing your tasks laid out as lists that you can easily filter, sort, and reschedule.
YES - If you need a mobile solution that’s easy to use and quickly add tasks on the go.
YES - If you need a simple tool that you can start using within 2 minutes without having to create elaborate projects/boards.
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