Todoist GTD

When will Todoist start to support GTD (Getting Things Done)?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I have been using Todoist as my GTD tool for three years. I’m still waiting for the day when Todoist will start to support GTD.

The story behind this blog post

I have been practicing Getting Things Done (GTD) since 2013. One of the things I really struggled with in the beginning was finding a good tool to support my workflow. Being on Android and PC, there was really no good cross-platform tools at that time.

God only knows how many tools I tested before I found IQTell in 2014. Prior to this, I had tested Todoist, but at that time, the functionality did not meet my requirements. However, as IQTell ceased to exist, I became an avid Todoist user by the summer of 2016. By that time, the functionality in Todoist had improved.
If you want, you can read the sad story of what happened to IQTell below.

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.
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Let me make it clear that I think Todoist is a really good tool. What the people at Doist, the company behind Todoist, has done is really amazing. Todoist is flexible with a lot of great features and integrations. As I’m working in the software business myself, I know a lot about both the limitations and the possibilities for developing and running software like Todoist.

I love to figure out better and smarter ways of working. Below are two examples of how I have utelized the functinality in Todoist to be able to use it for a lot more than as a task manager.

packing list in Todoist

How to make the ultimate packing list in Todoist

With your packing list in Todoist, I guarantee you: Packing for travel will never be the same again. Learn how to create smart, reusable packing lists.
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home renovation project in Todoist

How to organize a home renovation project in Todoist

Setting up my home renovation project in Todoist is one of the things I wish I had done much earlier in my life. Better planning and a more productive way of working really make a big difference.
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My struggle with using Todoist as a GTD tool

Immediately after the loss of IQTell, I started to invest a lot of time learning everything I could about Todoist. There was a lot to figure out, but after a while, I had managed to figure out a pretty good setup for capuring and handling to-do items (what is called next actions in GTD) as well as projects and contexts. For details, read the below post.

Todoist GTD setup

My Todoist GTD setup – Part 1: Projects, contexts, and actions

Having a good digital tool to help you organize your Getting Things Done system is essential. In this post i'm showing you how to set up Todoist for GTD.
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From there on, it started to get more difficult. Sure – after a while, I figured out the best way to use Todoist for the GTD Weekly Review, as well as for my GTD Focus Horizons. It was not perfect, but I felt that all the other good things about Todoist made up for the struggle.

After making sure that my system worked, I shared it in the below blog post. Since then, Todoist GTD Weekly Review project has had thousands of downloads. This is telling me that there is a lot of GTD’ers out there, struggling to work with Todoist.

Todoist GTD

My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2: Weekly Review and Focus Horizons

The Weekly Review is a fundamental component in GTD. Next up, when you master the basics, you should start thinking about Focus Horizons. This will take your productivity and your personal drive to the next level.
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Getting Things Done is huge

Todoist Support GTD

The GTD methodology is based on David Allens book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. The first edition was written in 2001. An updated version was written in 2015.

  • The book is an international bestseller, translated to 47 languages.
  • GTD training is delivered in 76 countries worldwide.
  • More than 3.000 people are attending whole-day GTD courses every month

What Todoist is missing

There is not a lot of changes that have to be done in order to make Todist support GTD. Sure, you can add a lot of bells and whistles, but that’s not what I’m asking for. Let’s take a look at what is really needed.

1. Support for GTD Weekly Review

This is the biggest issue: The lack of support for knowing when you did go through a project or a set of tasks. In GTD, this is called the Weekly Review. The Weekly Review is a process where you take a look at all your outstanding tasks and projects, to check if you have forgotten something and evaluate if the things on your lists is still worth doing.

When I put it like this, it sounds like something that could be useful also for people not practicing the Getting Things Done methodology.

It could be so simple as having a review date on a task, and a field telling you when this item was last reviewed. Then the weekly review itself vould be a separate project full of tasks with reccuring dates. These two dates should also be added to projecs, so that you could do a project review.

2. Support for GTD Horizons of Focus

What is GTD Horizons of focus? Simply put it’s a framework for how to align your daily actions with your visions, goals, and life-purpose.

I like to compare it with flying an airplane:

Level zero is the runway. As the pilot, you have to tackle all obsticles in order to be able to take off. This is the level for all your to-do items (tasks).

Level 1, 10.000 feet. Projects and Outcomes: This is where your projects live. This is where you take the Goals and Objectives from level 3, and your areas of focus and responsibility and do what you have to do to make it real.

Level 2, 20.000 feet. Areas of focus and responsibility: This is your job description, your role as a parent and spouse.

Level 3, 30.000 feet. Goals and Objectives (Next 1-2 years): This is where you concretizice your visions in the form of goals and objectives.

Level 4, 40.000 feet. Vision (Next 3-5 years, and longer): This is where decide where you want to be 3 to 5 years from now.

Level 5, 50.000 feet. Purpose, principles, and values: This is the big one. What’s your purpose, principles, and values.

For more details, read the below post.

GTD Horizons of focus

GTD Horizons of Focus – A framework for success

The GTD Horizons of Focus is a framework for how to align your daily actions to your visions, goals, and life-purpose. Done right, it will place you in the captain's seat for controlling the rest of your life.
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This is how I (try to) manage my Horizons of Focus in Todoist today:

GTD Horizons of Focus Part 3: How I manage my Horizons of Focus in Todoist

GTD Horizons of Focus Part 3: How I manage my Horizons of Focus in Todoist

This is the final post about Horizons of Focus. Learn how to find your purpose and values. Then, take a look at my set-up for managing Horizons of Focus in Todoist.
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Todoist support GTD

What is needed in Todoist to set up GTD Horizons of focus

This is where the people ad Doist need to write the most new code.

What can be managed in Todoist today:

  • 3 Goal
      • 2 Focus
        • 1 Project
          • Sub-project

What is needed

  • 5 Purpose
    • 4 Vision
      • 3 Goal
        • 2 Focus
          • 1 Project
            • Sub-project

We need two more levels, atleast.

But, there is more: A project (Level 1) can be tied directly to a responsibility (Level 2) or a goal (Level 3) It can be tied to both directly or even just to a goal, thereby skipping level 2. The same goes for the other levels, meaning that somehing on level 2 mayby hang directly on a level 5 value.
In short, what is needed I a many-to-many relationship between projects.

Competition

The gold standard for GTD tools is OmniFocus. Since they operate in the Apple universe only, they are out of the picture.

The competition for really good GTD tools on the Android and PC platform is rather thin. Facilethings is the closest. They have a really good grasp om the two things Todoist is missing, but lack of integrations and functionality in the Andriod app is keeping me from switching.

Thats it! There are a lot of tools out there, but none of the others are even worth mentioning.

What now?

Dear people working with Todoist. Are you willing to take the challenge?

Are you willing to make the changes necessary so that Todoist can support GTD?
If you are, I’m willing to work with you for free.

Waiting to hear from you!

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6 comments

  1. My two cents: I don’t want/need my Purpose and Vision in Todoist as hierarchical items with all of my goals/projects nested below them. I’m not going to “complete” my Purpose or Vision. I only need to refer to them periodically to re-ground myself. Forcing me to nest each and every project or goal under a specific Vision/Purpose item feels like it would add a lot of friction to the system. It’s hard enough keeping my Goals/Projects/NAs in sync.

    Thank you for your blog, by the way. It has really helped me learn the ins and outs of using Todoist for GTD (amongst other things). I really enjoy reading your posts!

    1. Hi Bob,
      Thank for your feedback. It’s totally up to you if you want to use my proposed functionality for GTD Horizons of Focus. The way I have outlined it, you will just have the option to have more levels. If you have a project that is supporting more than one goal, the many-to-many relationship may be helpful.
      Stay productive!

  2. I do like the idea of some sort of many-to-many relationships between tasks and their “projects”. That would be very handy!

  3. Why not use Labels combined with pinned filters? This gives the flexibility to have multiple levels with many to many relationships and yet accessible with a single click? Or have you tried this and found it does not work?

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