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Moving from other task/todo ecosystem (adapting)


Hi, I will try to be short. I stumbled over Todoist by accident, never finding an app/system that worked for me. Trying you out, I was amazed at the speed, functionality and possibilities of your "system".

BUT I'm having trouble adapting or perhaps changing my mindset. The result is the same though.

Having read GTD, I've put up a system with "Containers" for my tasks. I'm presuming you have read the book here. Tasks then get prioritized and stored. The important thing is deciding on an action when entering/saving the task. Thus preventing your brain working with solving what to do, even if you are not aware of it.

First off I tried using your "Projects" as folders like I did before. I am EXTREMELY pleased that I could indent tasks and thus having "Sub-folders" for my tasks. IE. first folder would be "Home". But doing so, didn't work for how I needed it to. Every sub-task would be a literal task under the main "Project". When checking off a task in a sub-task/project under "Home" it would simply be be greyed out. Not "Done". Thus it would clutter the actual folder view. Todoist would assume that all tasks under a sub-folder would be needed to be completed before it was completed.

I simply wanted to use the sub-projects as a seperate folder/container for a different independent set of tasks.

Get what I'm trying to explain?

How can I use Todoist with GTD in mind, having tasks in "Containers" that act as a repositorie, not as a project/sub-project/task?

I could have a MILLION projects but having them all as a separate project would overwhelm me. I need to be able to nest tasks under folders. Then going through the folders, I would be focused on that specific task. Whereas Todoist would assume that it was a sub-task to be completed before a certain task would be done.

I need my "Projects" to be a fixed number of containers (easy memory retention and speeding up workflow).

It was difficult finding information on how exactly you would want us to work with Todoist.

All responses

Brendon Wadey  staff
Replied on Nov 04, 2013 - 12:36 UTC

Hi Stlan,

There are three major ways to organize with Todoist at the moment, Projects, Tasks/Sub-Tasks, and Labels.

Unfortunately with the way you were doing it, which I would have to agree is the best way of doing it, sub-tasks do not disappear until the Parent task is completed. We will consider changing how this works in future updates, though we believe this is beneficial to many people. Please note, completed sub-tasks only show within the project they are created, when viewing date based views (Today, 7 Days) they only show current tasks.

As you said, doing this with Projects would end up being messy and overwhelming. So the only option left would be to use labels, but Labels would almost work the same way as Sub-Tasks. Within each project, you would see everything as a whole list, only when you search for that Label would things be broken down.

So, using Sub-Tasks are the best solution, but I know you were hoping to have completed sub-tasks be hidden. We will take this into considering for the future.


Stian Sølversen
Replied on Nov 04, 2013 - 14:04 UTC

Would an easy solution to both our "issues" be the inclusion of a "Folder" option within the "Projects" hierarchy?

1) Then a folder could have several "Projects" within, thus retaining the sub-project completion function you currently have.

2) It would then, in my opinion, be easier to comprehend for new users as to the de facto interpretation of Folder vs Projects.

3) A user could then have a "WORK" folder and a "Private" folder, separating the two and making it easier to maintain a healthy work/play balance.

(I think it would be unwise to have two different sets of todo structures here, as it would break up workflow if you needed to adjust your mindset two times a day. Since work effectiveness also effects your off-time, it would be smart to combine the to but be able to hide "Work" when you need to.)

4) It would be more in tune with GTD, but not be in the way/conflicting for users not used to this method.

5) If a private task was important with regards to a work related task, it could be tagged thus.

6) If it would create conflicts with regards to the database/syncing, it could be managed by automatically turning off the conflicting function IF you decide to use "Folder". Perhaps this would be an issue with the Karma-kurve?

7) For me, the workaround at the moment for me will be to use "Projects" as "Folders" and forgoing the sub-task function. BUT, if you could combine these, you would have the Killer App to rule all todo-apps, in my huble opinion.

David Trey  staff
Replied on Nov 04, 2013 - 14:37 UTC

Hello Stian,

Please clarify if you're referring to the same terminology as we do - there are projects and tasks in Todoist. The ones on the left side (on the web) are projects and you add tasks (right-side) inside them. Whether you add task to a main project/folder or a sub-project, it will not be grayed out when you complete it, it will disappear right away... unless you're talking about sub-tasks and not sub-projects.

That said, if you have the following project structure (elements on the left):

| - Office work
| - Research

You can add regular NOT indented tasks (not sub-tasks) into all 3 projects (incl. these 2 sub-projects) and completing each task will make it disappear right away.

So again - tasks disappear upon completion even if they're within sub-projects, but sub-tasks don't (even if they're within parent projects.

As for "folders" or "categories" - as you've noticed, this is already available with the project/sub-project structure and we'd rather not implement typical "folders" as this would be the same functionality, but without the option to add any task within the main folder. Now, you can at least add tasks to the main "WORK" project if they could not be categorized into sub-projects. With folders, you wouldn't have such option, but still - you can choose not to add tasks into the parent project and treat it as a folder.

As Brendon mentioned, labels are also an amazing tool as they can be included in searches so searching for "7 days & @office" would show tasks due within a week, but only those with the certain label. Labels can also be excluded, color-coded, used for context and status etc. You're welcome to read these posts on our blog to see how powerful this feature is:
- Part 1: https://todoist.com/blog/2013/01/use-task-labels-for-contextual-productivity/
- Part 2: https://todoist.com/blog/2013/02/use-task-labels-to-monitor-task-status/

Best regards,