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How to Stay Organized with Todoist

I’m notoriously hard to keep organized. I have so much going on, and am always thinking up new projects, and am easily distracted from getting things done. It’s easy to stay organized with Todoist.

I’ve tried lots of online and offline systems. I’ve tried paper planners, and still use them in some ways. But Todoist worked out the best for me. Asana was a close second, and if you’re in the Apple Ecosystem, Reminders is great for a lot of people.

Part of what I love about Todoist is that it has the right combination of limitations and features. Why would I want limitations?

Because I get overwhelmed and easily distracted by too many bells and whistles! I start exploring features I don’t need, thinking there must be something totally cool about them that I’m missing.

Stack of task papers stuck on needle

What Todoist allows me to do

Todoist has a ton of free features, plus a few more features in the paid version. Here’s what the free version allows me to do.

Screenshot of Todoist interface

Set up a sidebar of of “Projects”

Todoist categorizes your tasks into “projects”, which are like folders or categories in other systems. I have a project folder for work, another for errands I need to run, and one for random life stuff.

I also have another for ideas since I’m big on having ideas and not remembering them later (and I can easily move them to one of the categories if I decide to implement them later). And finally, I have a project folder for URLs I’m tracking, like a comment thread at a blog or forum that I don’t want to miss new replies on (I just paste the URL in there and it instantly becomes a link).

I can rearrange the projects/categories anyway, any time, by clicking a link at the bottom of the sidebar and dragging things where I want.

Color coding

I can assign a (very easy on the eyes) color to each category, helping me quickly recognize which to do items go with which category when I sort my lists in various ways.

Different Views

I can look at the “to do” items in a particular category, or just the items due today, or due the next 7 days, or “all projects” which shows every to do item in the order of my projects/categories.

Recurring tasks

Your to do items can recur in just about any pattern you can imagine. Daily, weekly, yearly, whatever.

Ajax format, great drag n drop

It’s got a really slick Ajaxy format – that means you can rearrange things on the page without refreshing, and it works really well. I’ve never had it hang up for even a few seconds, even on a slow computer.

Contact Information

You can set up a category of contact info and put it at the bottom of your sidebar. This may not be a great option if you have tons of people to keep track of, but it’ll work to keep some key info handy.


Todoist will keep a “history” of your completed to do items. How long the history goes back depends on whether you’re free or paid.

Labels (now a premium feature)

I can use tags just by typing my to do items like this: “Buy almond milk and apples @shopping”. That applies a “shopping” tag to the item “Buy almond milk and apples”.

The tag appears next to its items as a link – click it to see every item with that particular tag.

Nested Tasks (now a premium feature)

I can make “nested” to do items by using the arrow button to the side of the to do input form – this indents an item to go under another item.

The nested item can be a to do item of its own with its own “done” box to click, or you can turn it into a simple text note by typing your to do item with an asterisk at the beginning.

For example, under my above shopping to do, I could add a note: “* Remember to check prices on green beans – they were $X at the farmer’s market – and buy them if they’re cheaper.” That note will go away when the original to do item gets clicked off.

Reminders, including Location Specific

Email reminders are not likely to get my attention. Running websites, I get way too many emails each day. But Todoist will send reminders to your phone or email. It can also send you reminders based on your arrival at a particular place.


Todoist also has a LOT of features I don’t use. Power users can access most of them by typing special characters or abbreviations into boxes (check the help files for more info).

These filters help you sort and sift for just the tasks you need to see.