Whether you work for yourself or for a company, you’ll need some skills in organisation to reach your full potential. Being organised doesn’t necessarily mean having your desk in perfect order or your paperwork stored in neat little folders. Of course this helps (well, it does for me!) but organisation also includes ordering tasks so that the most important work is done, ensuring no deadlines are missed and making sure no tasks are forgotten. I guess the best word for this is “efficient”!
I believe organisation and productivity work hand in hand. If you’re organised with your tasks in the right way, then you’ll get more done. Simple as.
This is where Todoist has really helped me by allowing me to organise my tasks by project, add new tasks instantly so they’re not forgotten, judge the priority vs the deadline and decide what needs to get done in order for my business to keep moving forward.
So, what is Todoist?
Todoist is basically an online to do list. It’s a free tool that helps you to track your tasks and projects. You can set deadlines, mark priorities and monitor how much you get done each day. You even get points, or Karma, for the tasks you complete! You don’t receive anything for the points (apart from a groovy rating) but like a child with a sticker chart, it’s enough motivation for me!
Todoist is a powerful, yet beautifully simple to do list app that helps both individuals and teams achieve more with less effort, in less time.
You can get Todoist on your computer or on your tablet or smartphone which means you can keep on top of tasks wherever you are. They automatically sync to each other, which means you’ll never ever lose a task if you transfer from one device to another.
You’ve convinced me! – How can I start?
I find it easier to set up and organise Todoist on my computer and the rest of the post is based on this, but the mobile app works in much the same way.
Create a Todoist account by going on to their website Todoist.com. They do have a free version and a professional version but I’ve only ever used the free version and that’s perfect for me! Depending on your needs and company size, you may want to explore the upgraded version.
You might find it easier to just write down every single task you can think of straight on to Todoist and then categorise them after. Or you might already have an idea of categories and can add the projects first followed by the tasks. Either way, by the time you’re done, you’ll feel much more organised and can breathe a big sigh of relief!
Categorise your tasks into projects to make things more manageable
A project can simply be an actual project e.g. “Mickey’s website” or it can be a category e.g. “marketing” or “social media”. You might even want to narrow these down in to sub-categories.
To add a project on your computer, simply click on the projects tab in the sidebar, and click “+ Add Project”.
You can add a sub-project by creating a new project then clicking and dragging underneath and slightly to the right of the parent project.
Adding tasks to your to do list
You can either add tasks directly into a project by clicking on the project then clicking “+ Add Task” at the bottom, or you can do “Quick Add Task” and click the + in the header. Name the task, set the category and set the due date if there is one, then click Add Task.
If you’re adding several tasks of the same category, it’s quicker to click on the category / project and add the tasks using the “+ Add Task” button at the bottom.
This is the key to your productivity. Click “Filters” in the sidebar and then “View all” and you’ll see a list of all of your tasks organised by project. Now go through all of your tasks and prioritise.
I base my priority ratings on the Eisenhower Matrix:
- To me, the red flag means “important AND urgent”
- The dark blue flag means “urgent but not important”
- The light blue flag means “important but not urgent”
- The white flag means “neither important nor urgent”.
Obviously, the tasks that are flagged red need to be done first.
Read each of your tasks and ask yourself “Is this important? Is it urgent? Will it effect the business if I don’t actually do it?!” If you can, cross off tasks that are assigned with a white flag. If the task doesn’t really need to be done then why clog up your to do list? If it’s a task or an idea for the future, maybe put it in a separate ‘future to do’ project.
Make sure you re-evaluate your task list regularly as priorities do change.
What task should I do first?!
If you click on “Today” in the sidebar, you’ll see all of your tasks that have been assigned a deadline for that day. Work your way through the red tasks first, then the dark blue, then the light blue, then the white.
If it helps, you can click and drag tasks to re-order them and then you can just systematically complete one after the other without worrying “what should I do next?” This helps me reduce procrastination as I feel like I’ve got to do everything in order and can’t pick and choose the easy or nice tasks! After all, if I picked the easy or nice tasks all the time, I wouldn’t be very productive!
Analyse your productivity and boost your motivation
At the top of your screen you should see a little icon and a number. By clicking this, you’ll bring up your productivity chart. This details how many tasks you’ve completed each day for the last 7 days.
You get points or “Karma” for each task you complete and this is displayed visually for you to easily assess your productivity. It also provides some extra motivation so you can try to beat your task goals (or stay consistent!) and so you can work up the ranks from “Todoist Beginner” to “Todoist Enlightened”.
Keep in mind that tasks differ in size so don’t worry if you haven’t hit your goal one day if you’ve been working on a single large task. However, it often helps to break down a large task into small chunks and tick those off as you go. It reduces procrastination and makes you feel like you’re making great progress, therefore motivating you further.
Sometimes I add tiny things to Todoist just so I can tick them off again and give myself a little bit more motivation if I’m having an off day. You do that too right?!
Todoist is now part of my everyday routine. I add tasks instantly as soon as I think of them, even in the middle of the night! I organise my tasks every morning over breakfast and then work my way through them for the day.
If I’m feeling particularly tired or stressed or lazy, then occasionally I’ll pick the nice tasks to start me off (that’s better than doing nothing at all!) but by rating the tasks and having a task goal to stick to each day, it tends to motivate me to be more productive and helps me to be more efficient.
Try it and let me know how you get on!
All images featuring Todoist are from Todoist.com