from iqtell to todoist

Why I went from IQTell to Todoist

Realizing that you no longer can trust your productivity software is a nightmare. This is the story of why I moved from IQTell to Todoist.

I was one of those people who felt my life come to a standstill on the night of August 18, 2015. I just could not believe what I was reading. IQTell, my productivity hub, the system I used for email, to-do lists, and planning, was shutting down.

 

My hunt for the perfect productivity system

IQTell has been around since 2013. I started using IQTell at the beginning of 2014. Before this, I had been trying out My Life Organized, Remember The Milk, Todoist, Zendone, Toodledo, FacileThings, Wunderlist and Outlook as my GTD based productivity system.

When I found IQTell, I was in productivity heaven. Not only was the system hard-core GTD, but it also took care of my email, meaning that I could create tasks from email and still keep the connection to the email. The system was also platform independent, supporting Android and Apple devices, as well ha having a good web application.

Besides all of this, IQTell had an excellent customer service. Given that the company was one year old, they still had a lot of development ahead, but I felt that the core concept was good and that the people involved really had a passion. The press coverage was positive, with a lot of appraisals.

from iqtell to todoist
Picture: Androidguys.com

IQTell totally changed my morning routine. The EZ Inbox – a single inbox for all email accounts, gave me one place to work with all of my emails. My morning commute on the train was now the time when I would go through my emails and create actions on what I needed to handle. By the time I reached my office, I had inbox zero and a task list ready to be tackled.

At this time, I was promoting IQTell in all channels. During a GTD seminar with David Allen in Oslo, I told him about the system and why I loved it so much. I was doing everything I could to make IQTell a success.

 

The day it all fell apart

I can remember exactly where I was when I read the announcement that IQTell was shutting down on 18 August 2015. I was in full panic mode. I wasn’t the only one.

from iqtell to todoist
Picture: Reddit.com

After using a few days to get av overview of current alternatives, I prepared to move to Todoist. The move from IQTell to Todoist took three days. I was frustrated due to the lack of proper email integration in Todoist and was struggling to keep a coherent productivity setup.

 

 

Full steam ahead

On 26 August, I read an uplifting message on Twitter: “We are continuing with full steam ahead!” Apparently, a third-party investor was onboard. My understanding was that the shutdown mostly was about finances. From what I could read, this was now longer an issue, and the company would continue as before.

The design of the IQTell applications was a bit outdated, but this would now be the number one priority. I was both very happy and very scared at the same time. I had realized just how dependent I was on one single system.

I would have thought that now was the time to tell the story about how loyal customers was begging the company not to give up and about a fresh new start with new investors. Instead, what followed was almost a complete silence.

No announcements on their web page, no blog posts, and the only activity on Twitter was reviews from App Store. Initially, there was talk about a re-design being ready in a few moths, then silence. The lack of information made me uneasy.

Being a self-appointed GTD evangelist, I started to recommend Todoist for beginners. I felt that I could not vouch for IQTell anymore, not knowing the status of things. As I was teaching other people to use Todoist, I realized that Todoist was expanding. By 2016, they offered email integration on my phone, using Newton. Little by little I was warming up to Todoist.

 

Say what?

In June 2016, Ran Flam, the founder of IQTell, announced that he would like to create a place for IQTell fans to “spread the word.” Somewhat doubtful, I flagged my interest and was soon invited to “IQTell Aficionados” on #Slack.

I newer understood the intention of this. After nine months of inactivity, he expected people to promote the software, to go online and preach the gospel…? I think most people felt like me. The last activity in this group was 29 July 2016.

 

From silence to censorship

Almost in desperation, I reached out to Ran Flam and told him how I felt. I did this via email, not wanting to publicize my feelings. I told him about how IQTell was the hub of my life, how shocked, and later relieved I was by the news, and how the latest silence was making me questioning if I could trust the company.

To put it very diplomatically, his answer surprised me. As he specifically asked me not to publicize his response, I will not do that, but what he basically told me was this: They were putting all of their efforts into building an outstanding email application. My mistrust of the company was bordering on rudeness, and he took this as “a personal and unjust insult.”

Needless to say, this made my alarm bells go off. It was like he did not understand that people were using IQTell for much more than email. He did not understand how the public perception was formed by his total lack of communication. My instinct was to run, and I did. I then realized that my move from IQTell to Todoist wold be permanent.

I’m not the only one to react to IQTells style of communication. People that participated in the beta for the new design was quite surprised after receiving an email with the following instruction in bold:
While in beta, we kindly ask you to refrain from any public negative feedback.
On the other hand, feel free to share your positive experience on our forum and elsewhere.

On the IQTell Facebook group, a growing number of people are venting their frustration about missing functionality in the new web app as well as IQTells style of communication and censorship of comments.

 

Todoist GTD setup

 

The final shift from IQTell to Todoist

After some weeks of adjustments, in the summer of 2016, I was a full-blown Todoist user. Sure, Todoist is not as hardcore GTD as IQTell, but you can make it work. The have a very good add-in for Outlook and, for email on the move, I can live with Newton.

After the move from IQTell to Todoist, I have put a lot of time into making Todoist my new productivity hub. Some of this has resulted in blog posts. The most important ones are listed below.

Being a full-time improver, I have already contacted both Todoist and Newton with suggestions for improvements. I’m looking forward to being one of the beta testers of the Windows version of Newton, later this year.

 

Trust and transparency

As of July 2015, Todoist had more than 5 million users. In 2017 the company turned 10 years. Todoist is cross-platform and has an insane number of integrations – and the list is growing. These are important facts to consider.

If you are like me, an avid practitioner of the Getting Things Done methodology, you put a lot of time and energy into your productivity system. Notice that I do not use the term “task list” or “to-do app.” In Todoist I not only have tomorrow’s to-do list. I have my projects – many of these tied to my yearly performance review at work. I have long-term plans to prepare for my pension age.

With my whole life in one system, I have to feel comfortable with the company. Knowing that the company is financially sound and that their servers will run tomorrow, is paramount for having a good nights sleep.

 

The future of IQTell

I kept my IQTell account just to see how things are moving along. In April 2017, 19 moths after their comeback, they launched their new web interface. The design is improved, but some of the functionality that made IQTell outstanding seems to be missing.

I think that IQTell could have revolutionized the workday for a lot of people. Now, when thinking of IQTell, I’m saddened by the way this has all gone down. I know I will be checking in from time to time, hoping that they will make it, but I have to say I’m not optimistic.

I wish that I did not have to go thru the move from IQTell to Todoist, but at the end of the day, trusting your system is the most important thing. If IQTell does not succeed, it is not because of a bad product, it’s because of a complete lack of understanding of the customer’s needs as well as a communication style that undermines all trust.

UPDATE: The day after the publication of this article, I was banned from the IQTell Facebook group.

UPDATE II, 21. June 2017:
IQTEll announced that they will stop providing services 5:00 pm EDT July 31, 2017.

 

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24 comments

  1. What are your thoughts regarding Todoist verses Swipes? I admit I am not familiar with Todoist but may want to try it based your response. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kyle. Thank you for reading my blog. I have no experience with Swipes, but from what I can see it looks like a group/team based task tool. Productivity is personal. Different people have different ways of viewing the same tasks. A collaboration tool is good for a team to share or delegate work and to keep an overview. In my view, it is very hard to have good support for both personal and team needs in the same tool.

      Todoist is a personal productivity tool with the ability to share projects and delegate tasks. I have heard that a lot of people are using Trello as the group tool and Todoist for personal needs. I think this is manageable using IFTTT. See https://ifttt.com/connect/trello/todoist. Here we are touching upon what I relly like with Todoist: The flexibility that comes from the number of integrations. See https://en.todoist.com/integrations.

      Good luck choosing tools. Stay productive!

      Bjørn Christian

      1. Thank you for your reply. I totally agree that productivity is a very personal thing, hence all the programs and apps out there.
        Evernote is at the very core of everything that I do and Swipes integrates very well with Evernote. However, that being said, I am always on the lookout for possible Improvement.
        I am enjoying your blog.

  2. Thank you for your extensive writeup. I landed here because when I logged into to IQtell this AM, I got a onscreen notification of closure of IQtell services as of the end of July. So, like many others, I’m trying to figure out a replacement. Already using Evernote and Trello.

    1. I did the same. I really appreciate your multi-part breakdown of how you use Todoist. I think I’ll give them a try after reading this post!

  3. Kyle, great post. Like others, I am looking for a new alternative. I have left IQtell once before so have some experience with the other apps, but want to see what is new and review the older ones. Todoist is at the top of my list along with Nozbe. Based on the name, I assume Newton is IOS and I am Android, so don’t know if that is a factor for me.

    What I found really interesting about your article was the reaction by Ran. I too had a run in with him based on some forum posts. This was after a prolonged outage. As you stated, I don’t think he ever understood how we actually used the app and being down for most of a day affected us. I was banned from the forum and he posted rude comments about me on Twitter.

    Based on that and the previous announced shutdown, I should have known better. I am retired now and my projects are fewer and tasks simpler, so I was just looking for a way to simplify and streamline by tasks and daily workflow. The email and Evernote integration sealed the deal and I went back ‘all in’ and paid for a Premium sub. As others have stated, I was disappointed with the very long awaited NWA, but that gave me confidence that he was in it for the long run.

    I am now going to spend a couple of days kicking the tires on the competition and will settle on something. Would appreciate any thoughts you have re Todoist v Nozbe.

    Thanks again and good luck.

    1. Hi Darryl,
      Thanks for reading my blog. Interesting to hear your story with Ran. It’s a shame that such a good software had to fail because of the human factor.
      Newton is both iOS and Android. Take a look at https://newtonhq.com/

      It’s a long time since I looked at Nozbe. What I remember is that I took a second look after the first IQTell shutdown, but decided to go for Todoist.

      1. Thanks, I’ve added Newton to my list of things to look at. As part of this process, I definitely want a different email client. Never cared for the Inbox interface from Google, so I’m evaluating a few in addition to the six or so todo apps. One thing that will make the search easier is, after some thought, I discovered that Evernote/Task integration isn’t nearly important as Email/Task and Email/Evernote. For me, it wasn’t a triangle, but a fork in the road.
        BTW, I’m also a photographer, so I’ll be checking out the rest of your blogs as well.

        1. I see Newton is by the CloudMagic people. I have used that before and was one of the options for a client. Checking out Newton now

          1. Turns out Newton is CloudMagic. Bad news is Windows version is only Beta and only for people that already have the app, so a dealbreaker.

            OTH, after an all day eval, Todoist is at the top of the list along with Toodledo, so I’m narrowing it down. Turns out Nozbe is a bit rigid for me

  4. Disappointed but not surprised…

    I used IQTell mainly for the Android App’s Email features, mainly the ease of setting up Macros which moved the Email you’re reading to a certain folder (or deleted it). This was easily and quickly actioned with one touch of one of the simple buttons at the bottom of the Email Full View page.

    Simple, logical and seemingly obvious – I couldnt find an App to do the same 2 years ago when shutdown was imminent! Anyone know of a similar alternative for this seemingly simple workflow, to read an email and move it to a folder with one click!?

    1. Hi Jordan,

      I have to disappoint you. I have a pretty good overview and I’m 99% sure that no such app exists. The closest I have found is Newton on Android and the Todoist Outlook add-in. Both have everything but the automatic archive function. I have on my todo list to approach both Todoist and Newton with regards to this. 🙂

  5. Bjørn,
    Thanks so much for your write ups about todoist. They’ve been very helpful in the last few days since IQTELL announced their closing. Like many others who commented here, I’ve been a faithful user of IQTELL for a few years and even blogged about it extensively in the last few months (garlandvance.com).

    I’ve been testing Todoist for the last few days and have found your writing really helpful to get started quickly. Do you have any suggestions for exporting IQTELL and importing to todoist seemlessly?

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Hi Garland,
      Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading my blog. Switching systems is never easy. Because the architecture in IQTell and Todoist is very different, I ended up doing a copy/paste job between the two applications. Let me give you some examples: In IQTell, a project can have multiple parent projects. If you are managing your Horizons of Focus, like I did, this is a great feature. In Todoist this is not possible.For this reason, you may end up wit a different set-up that cannot be easily imported into.

      The upside with this copy/paste job is that yu will have the chance to review all your tasks, projects and commitments. I found that I was left with a better “data set” in Todoist compared to what I had in IQTell.

      Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or feedback.
      Stay productive!

  6. I’m moved to Gqueues because it works so well with Google products. My company switched to Gmail a year or so ago. Now everyone keeps and shares files on Google drive. Gqueues makes that an easy way to keep your info with your tasks. If you are using Gmail, take a look at it. https://www.gqueues.com

  7. Bjorn,

    Excellent article! Last year when IQtell announced their first closing I had just started using their service. When the ‘IQtell’ team announced that they were still operational, I stopped and like you I questioned what the heck was happening, I have over 30 years of successful sales and marketing experience, and for any company to announce such a dramatic statement as, we’re closing down,is not something serious companies actually do… To make such a bold statement then just as quick make a second statement that all is well, that’s not a process which makes sense.

    When the above happened I realized that IQtell was not a well-managed business. It was a if the executives are playing games. I had no idea how many people worked at IQtell, but it was obvious to me the person in charge was not taking the business seriously.

    IQtell had what appeared to be one of the best cross platform, email integration and todo platforms on the market. What puzzled me was this, why wasn’t I seeing any advertising anywhere for IQtell? I actually stumbled upon IQtell years earlier when I was performing my own GTD cross-platform evaluation. I recall when I first started using IQtell,I was amazed that in all my research, why wasn’t I seeing more promotion of this wonderful product?

    It is no surprise that IQtell failed. Since their first closing announcement, the owners have not invested in sales and advertising. I’m online every day and I have never seen one ad on any social media website, nothing. The company had an incredible product and one full year to create promotions, advertise, market and generate new business. Simply put, the only hope for IQtell would be a change in management.

    I did not feel comfortable with the announcement last year and I am also using Cloud Magic or Newton combined with Todoist as my GTD solutions. I can integrate Evernote when needed and I’ve had no problems.

    Thanks for writing this commentary and updating over the past year, Sadly, this is just another example of a great business plagued with misfortune due to poor leadership, Here’s a thought, if the current owner is overworked and wants to spend time with family, why not fond another group of motivated people who want to continue growing IQtell? There are so many options that should be explored,but just shutting down and quiting…. It is yet another senseless decision.

    Take care and God bless.

  8. I had a weird run in with Flim Flamm too but strange founders whom have no idea of their market or what their app really does are not unusual. Famo.us finally folded late last year with its founder admitting he never knew what the app did or had a business plan.
    Take home is to examine the companies direction (if it has one) and track record of the founders before investing in something core to your workflow.

  9. I had the EXACT same experience with Ran as you did. A shame as the software at one point was progressive, however their leadership was not user-centric at all. I’ve been in software R&D going on 20 years now, and excluding users from your road-map is one thing, mocking them and ultimately banning them based on enhancement requests is….well, I saw the end sooner than he did, obviously.

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