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Todoist

In theory, I have zero need for yet another GTD tool. Things is fine for me, I use it every day and couldn’t be happier with it.

On the other hand, what engineer worth his salt would not be willing to here and there check out other stuff in the pursuit of something1 that may even be better than the already quite sophisticated workflow.

On a related note, Todoist has received flying color endorsements from Federico Viticci during recent episodes of the Connected podcast.

So I gave the whole thing the benefit of the doubt and dipped my toe into Todoist water. Like Things, Todoist is available on all the platforms I care about.

Unlike Things, it is also available in the nearest Web browser. This doesn’t make a big difference for me because, as mentioned before, there are native apps on the platforms I care about.

Did I say “native”? Well, at least when it comes to the Mac app, doubt is more than warranted. I didn’t care enough to research whether my impression is correct, but this screen shot speaks volumes.

The screen shot has been taken right after one of my desperate attempts to create a recurring item in Todoist. I tried in the Mac app and I tried in the Web app, and the result looks identical on both platforms.

Entering recurring deadlines is, as far as I can see, only possible by trying to convince the natural language parser to start making sense of my input. This works for simple cases, but everything falls apart as soon as things get a little bit on the non-trivial side.

Mind you, I’m totally OK with natural language input as long as it gets me 70-80% to my goal. Even showcase apps for natural language parsing stumble here and there over my input. That’s OK, at least as long as there is a dialog-based fallback where things can be sorted out properly.

But if natural language is your only option, as in Todoist’s case for recurring task deadlines, it’s either 100% success or fail.

So, in my case: fail2. And that’s exactly when Todoist displays an error message like the depicted that is only partly visible. Yes, the left part of the pop-up dialog is clipped at the very left border of the Todoist app in the same way that this dialog is clipped in a web browser3.

I am very well aware that this description of my first impression of Todoist is not properly supported duly by a thorough research of how I could have improved my initial time with Todoist.

In other words, I’m admittedly not playing fair at this point because I could have spent more time to find out how to embrace Todoist and follow Federico on his journey.

Maybe it’s because I’m just not desperate enough. See, I’m in the comfortable situation to already have a perfectly working solution.

One way or the other, this concludes my experiment. Whatever goodies Todoist may have in store that may convince me to move over will remain unexplored. There’s simply too much friction. If I cannot manage to do the easy stuff with little effort I have totally no incentive to even try the potentially harder things.

  1. As they say, better is the enemy of good.

  2. In my case, the deadlines are set to one minute before midnight no matter how hard I try.

  3. Trust me on this, I checked.

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