Todoist is a task/to-do list application that integrates with Google Calendar. Todoist is multi-platform with a stand alone desk top application for Mac and Windows, an iPhone and Android app, plus a nice Chrome browser extension. I like the fact that I can access it from any web-browser in addition to having easy access to the application on my phone. The Todoist Android app has an always-on shortcut that allows me to quickly add an event to Todoist on the fly, such as when a student asks me after class what time we should meet.
The long term projects are on the right and the daily agenda is in the middle. I love the ability to differentiate between long term projects that have multiple required tasks and the short, three minute tasks that don’t need long term attention. So short tasks are on the daily agenda and the long term projects have individual tasks that appear in the daily agenda as I move toward the end date of the larger project.
I love that Todoist integrates with Google Calendar because I use the calendar religiously for class time, appointment slots during office hours, and other meetings.
Part of my inspiration to use Todoist was Daniel Markovitz’s “To-Do Lists Don’t Work” post for the Harvard Business Review blog. After an cool list of why to-do lists don’t work—paradox of choice, lack of context, too complex, lack of priority, lack of commitment devices—he discusses his solution:
The alternative to the feckless to-do list is what I call “living in your calendar.” That means taking your tasks off the to-do list, estimating how much time each of them will consume, and transferring them to your calendar. (Don’t forget to leave time to process your email. And leave some empty space — one to two hours — each day to deal with the inevitable crises that will crop up.) In essence, you’re making a production plan for your work.
When I read the phrase “living in your calendar,” things I had already been doing crystalized (like using Google Calendar for important events), but I also discovered that I could be more intentional about structuring my day. During the summer and for the beginning of this school year, I have been scheduling times in my calendar for writing and research, exercise, and even mindfulness/meditation. This has already proven helpful. I have stepped up this approach and I’m trying to schedule a specific time for every part of my daily to-do list, such as blocking out an hour to grade here and there, scheduling times to visit the Arboretum, and even scheduling the time I will respond to emails. It’s been a freeing experience because I transfer everything in my head into Todoist so I don’t ruminate on projects and long-term goals, plus I actually finish what I start out to do and can cross my tasks off my list, which is part of the fun.
There is a free and paid version of Todoist. I’m currently using the paid version.