Update: After having used Toodledo for more than 5 years, I made a change in October 2018. I now use Remember the Milk. Here is the story about why I changed and what I like about Remember the Milk.
How do you stay on top of all you have to do? That’s a universal question and the subject of countless articles. It’s a question I get often.
Since 2001, I have used a digital task list. For the last five, “Toodledo” (Toodledo.com) has been the tool of choice. It’s free, web-based, and has companion apps for your mobile devices. Tons of information comes to us digitally. It makes sense to have a system that allows digital information to stay digital. But why Toodledo? With so many options available, why have I stuck with this one?
1. Toodledo offers three levels of sort
A digital task list should allow you to change the sort order. Most do. Typically, you can sort alphabetically, or by date, or by priority, etc. Toodledo is unique. It allows multiple sort levels. Every task gets a due date, and I sort the list by due date. For me, the date is not a deadline; it’s the date I want to see that item again. Sorting by due date lets me see what’s planned for today, tomorrow, and so forth.
For those who have lots to do, segmenting the day helps you gain more control. I want mine segmented into morning, afternoon, and evening tasks. I use “Priority” as a secondary sort. “Top” priority are for my five most critical tasks—my “Fab 5.” “High” priority is for tasks planned for the morning, “Medium” tasks are for the afternoon, and “Low” priority tasks are for the evening.
Suppose I have 10 tasks scheduled for this afternoon. Five are errands. The others are things to do at home. Wouldn’t it be good to have the errands sorted together? That’s where having a third sort level comes in handy. For me, that third level is “Star.” The items with a star sort above the items without.
Sort Toodledo one time by Due Date, Priority, Star, and then leave it alone. Give each task a due date and priority. Toodledo handles it from there. It just works!
“If your tasks live on a sea of sticky notes, it’s time for an easier way.”
2. Details, start dates, and Boolean search
A good task manager should do more than serve as a list of to-dos. When you do the task, there is often information you want to have at hand. Toodledo allows each task to have its own attached note. Not only does Toodledo have this feature, but provides it for free. A popular competitor allows the note only with the paid version.
With Toodledo, an icon representing the attached note is always visible. The icon changes its appearance depending on whether it contains information. Other task managers require you to open the task to see if more information exists.
Toodledo includes an optional “Start Date” field. Even though a task is scheduled for a future date, you can often handle it early. But some tasks cannot be done until a particular date. It’s good to be able to assign a “Start Date” to tasks and hide those that have a future start date. Toodledo has it. Other competitors don’t.
“Search” is a huge advantage any digital system has over its paper counterparts. Toodledo has a “quick search” to find words or phrases within the name of the task. Competitors do as well. But, Toodledo offers a robust Boolean search which even extends to the note field of tasks. It allows you to construct detailed searches. You can find the exact combination of information you need.
3. Saved searches and batch edit
Speaking of searches, Toodledo allows users to build a search and then save it. Next time, select the search, and there are the results. I use one of them every evening.
If you are like me, when the day ends, some of the tasks planned for today still remain on the list. Sure, we can reschedule dates one-by-one. But on some days, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We put more in the list that Superman could do. Other days simply take a turn for the unexpected. Either way, we find ourselves with a long list of tasks to reschedule.
I built a saved search called “Due Today.” Using the Boolean search, I specified the following criteria:
- Completed equals “No.”
- Repeating equals “None.”
- Due Date equals “Today.”
After constructing the search, I saved it. Each evening, I run that search. A list of all the non-repeating and not-completed tasks scheduled for today appear. I then use the “Batch Item” function to change the due date in mass. Usually, I push the tasks forward a day. Sometimes, I “leap frog” the tasks two or three days into the future.
Likewise, I built a saved saved search called “Past Due.” In building this search, the due date specified is “before today.” This search comes in handy if I am planning my day in the morning. It identifies the tasks left undone from the previous day. I then “Batch Edit” the dates.
Why do I specify only tasks that do not repeat? If a task repeats each Tuesday, and for some reason I do not complete it Tuesday, I want to complete it as soon as possible—Wednesday. But the next week, I want the task to show up on its normal day—Tuesday. Changing the due date to Wednesday would also change the repeating pattern, causing the task to repeat each Wednesday. So, both of my saved searches ignore the repeating tasks.
The past-due repeating tasks appear in a section at the very top of the list. When you look at the repeating tasks, they tend not to be the most urgent. Yet, they are the lubricant that keeps your life running. They represent “preventive maintenance.” Their spot at the top of the list is, therefore, appropriate.
4. Toodledo “bookmarklet”
How often to you find yourself looking at a website and decide you wish to return to it later. How do you capture the URL? Writing it on paper is time-consuming. Invites error both in copying and keying the URL back into the browser. Saving it as a “bookmark” or “favorite” is possible. But, that method lacks a “trigger” to cause you to remember to return to the site. Also, few people have “favorites” that are anything but a total mess.
Returning to the website is a to-do. It belongs on the task list. Toodledo offers a “bookmarklet.” Drag it to the bookmark toolbar one time. From then one, whenever you find yourself needing to capture a URL, click the bookmarklet. A box drops down revealing a new task. The start and due dates are the defaults you specify in the settings (“Today” and “Today,” respectively, in my case).
All that remains is for you to complete the task line and save. The box closes, and you return to the website.
If I am faced with the same scenario on my phone or tablet, I click to “share.” One of my sharing options is going to be Toodledo. Notice that whether I am on my computer or a mobile device, I need not be in Toodledo to save a URL to it.
5. IFTTT integration with Toodledo
If This Then That is an ingenious service that allows two services to work together. Toodledo is one of the services which has IFTTT integration. Here are the applets I have created using Toodledo:
- If I “like” a tweet, then create a task on Toodledo. I use this one when a tweet includes a link to an article I would like to read later. As I review my list on Toodledo, I click the link in the note section of a task.
- If I miss a call on my mobile phone, then create a task on Toodledo. The information on Toodledo includes the phone number (and name, if recognized), and the time of the call.
- If I complete a task in Toodledo, then add that item to the next blank line in a Google Sheet. I have a record of every completed task, including the date and time of completion. Since the results are in a spreadsheet, it is fully searchable.
6. Customizable interface
Some people use start dates; others don’t. Some people categorize tasks by context and put them in folders; others don’t. Needs differ. Toodledo allows for many fields. The user decides which fields to display and in what order. The user also decides the width of each field.
7. Easy in and easy out
When I migrated from Outlook Tasks to Toodledo, I didn’t hand-key anything. You can import tasks into Toodledo via a CSV file. Since Outlook allowed exported via CSV, the process was easy.
Want to leave Toodledo? Export the tasks to CSV. Take your data wherever you like. The only challenge would be finding another task manager that allows you to import.
One of my monthly repeating tasks is to export Toodledo to CSV file. My tasks remain in Toodledo. A copy is resides in that backup just in case something was to happen. It’s simply a case for peace of mind.
8. And everything else
I have outlined the differences between Toodledo and others in the arena of digital task managers. Toodledo also has features common to other leading products that make life easier. Listen to this short podcast. I discuss the seven features to look for when choosing a digital task list.
For new users, I have written an eBook that details how to create your setup for Toodledo just like mine. I even walk you through creating the saved searches and installing the Toodledo Bookmarklet. The eBook is a gift for email subscribers.
You may join that email list here. The first gift you receive is Chapter One from Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. Several days later, the Toodledo eBook arrives. I’m not sure how long I will leave the eBook as a freebie, so get yours today.
If your tasks live on a sea of sticky notes, it’s time for an easier way. A digital task list is the tool for a digital world. Why not give Toodledo a try.