I may as well admit it, I am a sucker for anything that has to do with “organization.” I organize everything and have always had a knack and need to do so. As a pastor, it is very important to have things neatly laid out before me each week, including all of the various tasks that I need to do. Therefore, I use a system to organize my life using various tools that are available. My main tools of organization and planning are Google Calendar, One Note, and Todoist.
I have used many task managers in the past and all of them were either too much or too little as to what I needed. In 2016 I discovered and began to work with Todoist in order to organize and plan my various tasks. In this article, I will show you how to setup your task manager and how to add the most basic tasks that you will use. This tutorial is the engine that will drive your Todoist installation.
Before I began a few highlights about the product. Todoist is a free task manager and available on the web as well as on iOS and Android. There is also a premium plan which is highly recommended because it gives you many more features than the basic, free option. You can compare the plans here.
Areas of Responsibility
After registering with Todoist you will want to set up your “areas of responsibility.” Before you begin to create these areas you will want to think carefully about what you are responsible for and make a list and then create the areas in your installation.
My setup looks as follows: 01 Studies, 02 Work, 03 Church/Ministry, 04 Family, 05 Personal, 06 Sharing (more on that in a future article), 07 Coram Deo (more on that in a future article). See the screenshot for a graphic depiction of my system. As you can see, I number them from 01, 02, 03, etc. so I can keep them in order. These areas of responsibility are similar to folders and they will be where you will place “projects” as you structure your system. In order to create these areas of responsibility you simply “right click” in the left-hand column and select “add project above.” Type the project name and hit enter. This is now the controlling folder where you will place all of your “sub-projects.” Note, if the item you create looks indented, you can click one of the two indent icons and it will move. You can also drag them around and place them wherever you desire.
Projects are similar to “sub-folders.” It is the place where you will store all of your various tasks, organized by category. Everyone will have a different way of doing this, but I recommend that you sit down and carefully think through your ordinary week and, with pen and paper, write out all of the project categories that you have in your life. Again, you can see how I structure my “projects” in the screenshot depiction to the left. Each “area of responsibility” will have “sub-folders” where you can begin to list those categories that you are responsible for and where you will add tasks as they come up and as you plan your day and week. As you can see, I have titled each sub-folder with an “SP:” before the category. “SP” simply stands for “sub-project.” You may call it something different. It is entirely up to the user. The important aspect is to be sure to place the sub-project under the proper area of responsibility. In order to create these “sub-projects” simply right click the “area of responsibility” and select “add project below” and give it a name and hit enter. it will now be indented to the right under the area of responsibility you created above.
Your tasks will be the core of your Todoist installation and will get most of your attention as you craft and schedule your week. There are different kinds of tasks. There are “one-time” tasks that you simply enter into the proper area of responsibility and in the proper sub-project. For instance, if you have a one-time lunch meeting you may want to add a task under “SP: General.” There are also “recurring” tasks. A recurring task is something that happens once a day, once a week, once a month, etc. Again, you will want to be sure to add a one-time or recurring task into the proper area of responsibility and sub-project. So, how do you add a task? That is what makes Todoist so easy to use. Adding tasks is as simple as typing in plain language what you need to accomplish.
One-Time Task: Let’s say you have a one-time task of meeting someone for lunch. First, be sure you are in the proper area of responsibility and sub-project. From there, click on “add task” and then start typing (without quotes): “Meet Joe for lunch at Wendy’s on Tue at 1 PM p1” and hit enter. The task will be entered into the correct area and will be routed to the correct day of the week for it to appear. It will also send you a reminder on your smartphone app if you have it installed.
Let’s break down the various aspects of what you just did. First, you told the program what your task is “Meet Joe for lunch at Wendy’s.” Second, you added the day of the meeting as well as the time “Tue at 1 PM.” Third, you gave it a priority. Todoist has four levels of priority: 1, 2, 3, 4. One is the highest and most important priority and will show up with a RED circle. 2 is the second highest and so forth. When you typed “p1”, you told Todoist that this task is the highest priority and will flag it as such. Priority one tasks will always show up at the top of your TODAY list.
Recurring tasks will be the most used and you will need to know how to add them.
Weekly Recurring Tasks: Let’s say you have a recurring task that shows up once a week. To add this task, first be sure you are in the correct area of responsibility and project and then type (without quotes): “Meet Joe for lunch at Wendy’s every Tue at 1 PM p1.” Now, the program will flag you every Tues and it will show up in your TODAY list.
Daily Recurring Tasks: For a recurring task that needs to appear every day you type (without quotes): “Meet wife at the coffee shop each day at 1 pm p1.” You just told Todoist that this task is daily (Sun-Sat) and the time as well as the priority. It will now show up in your TODAY list as well as the SEVEN DAY list.
Every Other Week Recurring Tasks: For a recurring task that happens every other week you simply type (without quotes): “Meet wife at the coffee shop every other Tues at 1 pm p1.” Again, the task will appear on the proper day and auto-generate each time you complete it.
Other Types of Recurring Tasks: For a recurring task that needs to occur on various days you can type (without quotes): “Meet wife at the coffee shop on Mon, Thurs, Sat at 1 pm p1.” it will generate that task on the specified days and auto-generate each time it is completed.
An important note about “recurring tasks.” A recurring task will not show up in your SEVEN DAY list until you complete it on the day it is scheduled. Once you complete that task it will auto-generate that task and place it on the proper day.
That is all there is to using the basic elements of Todoist. Next time I will cover some of the more advanced features such as “sharing a task” as well as the “reminder feature” and the mobile app platform.