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 as 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.
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.
After using a few days to get an 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
Eight days later, 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 no 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 were 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 months, 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.
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 never 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 question 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 would 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.
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. They 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.
- My Todoist GTD setup – Part 1: Projects, contexts, and actions
- My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2: Weekly Review and Focus Horizons
- 10 tips for getting the most out of Todoist
- GTD Horizons of Focus Part 3: How I manage my Horizons of Focus in Todoist
- Todoist Karma – A step counter for your productivity
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 months 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 blog post, I was banned from the IQTell Facebook group.
UPDATE II, 21. June 2017:
IQTEll announced that they would stop providing services 5:00 pm EDT July 31, 2017.