In my student days, back in belgium, the citroen ‘deux chevaux’ (two horsepower) was known as the ‘ugly duckling’. It was weird and quirky (with the gear stick in the dash rather than on the floor) but it was cheap and reliable, a solid workhorse.
Toodledo is the 2CV of productivity apps: not much to look at, but it won’t let you down and has a lot of surprises under the bonnet.
To start with, toodledo is fully compatible with the ‘getting things done‘™ (GTD™) approach developed by david allen. Projects, contexts, priorities, tags, status, due dates, filters, locations – it is all there. It is also highly customisable: if you want to run toodledo as a simple task list, you can. If you want to track the time a task is due rather than just the date, or track how much time you have spent on a task, it will let you do that too. You just choose in ‘settings’ which fields you want to use and you can always revisit those decisions.
Toodledo is a browser-based app that I have used for three years on mac and windows computers. There are three subscription options. The free version does not support indented tasks. The ‘pro’ version costs $14.95 per year and essentially gives you the full functionality. For $29.95 per year the ‘pro plus’ version keeps your completed tasks ‘forever’ (rather than for two years) and provides you with 5GB file storage. If you already have dropbox I see little reason for going beyond the ‘pro’ version. Toodledo has also produced excellent mobile apps for the iPhone and the iPad ($2.99). The mobile apps synch with the browser version quickly and reliably – I have never encountered an error.
I have set up a sample project (see screenshot below) to show you what the browser version looks like. The screenshot looks a bit busy because I have turned on the task details (see flippy triangles) to give you a better idea of the fields.
You can attach files to tasks and make inline notes. There is also a separate ‘notebook’ (see tab in menu bar) where you can store longer notes, web clippings and the like. There is no integration with evernote however.
Toodledo is brimming with features: its ‘statistics’ will give you a snapshot of your tasks by urgency, context and the like and its ‘scheduler’ can suggest tasks to help you make the most of that spare half hour between meetings. Toodledo can even track short-term, long-term and lifelong goals if you activate that field in your settings. The app will then show a clustering of tasks along an axis that represents your goal, confirming that you have not been frittering (or twittering) your time away. I personally do not find the execution of this feature particularly informative, but I cannot think of any other productivity app that has tried to track top-level goals outside a straight list format. It just shows how much thought has gone into the development this app over the years.
How do I use toodledo? I review my tasks at work every friday morning, which takes me about 20 minutes. I reschedule, review, reprioritise – basically get my house in order for the following week. At the start of every day I then look at the ‘hotlist’ view (a user-defined mix of urgency and importance) and ‘star’ the items I want to complete that day. The time counter at the bottom of the page is a helpful indicator: no point selecting ten hours’ worth of work if you’ll be spending half the day in meetings. I then work through that starred to-do list, switching to project (called ‘folders’ in toodledo) or context view as the need arises. I use a separate tag for each key co-worker, giving me a ready-made agenda for planned or impromptu meetings. I use a ‘home’ tag to flag projects I can work on from home; and a ‘low energy’ tag to mark non-urgent, non-demanding tasks that allow me to remain productive when I am not feeling my best.
If you want a powerful, reliable and customisable GTD-based task management app you cannot go wrong with toodledo. It is easier to use than omnifocus and I find it better suited to project management than todoist, remember the milk or things. It is cheaper than nozbe and less picky about working with older browsers than zendone, asana, nirvana or producteev. Wasn’t there a story about an ugly ducking turning into a beautiful swan?
To sign up for a toodledo pro account click here.
Have you recently adopted or abandoned toodledo? Leave a comment and tell us why!