Finding The Best To-do List App: Why I Switched to Todoist

There’s a plethora of Todo list apps nowadays. Cool thing, right ? Maybe not so much. Indeed, it has become harder to find one, justly because of the overwhelming array of available options we have today, rather than a lack thereof.

It’s been a little more than 2 years that I’ve been using a todo list app everyday. One cannot understate nor ignore the importance, usefulness and power of having a todo list to refer to on daily basis.

For just a tad less than 2 years (21 month precisely), I used Wunderlist to make my task lists. Then, 9 month ago, I switched to Todoist. Here’s why.

Same fight, same purpose

First, let me start with similarities.

Both apps are great at what they do. They allow you to create tasks and organize them inside projects. If, like many of us nowadays, you use multiple devices, you’re covered: they both are available on a wide range of devices, whether you want to use iOS, Android, Windows Phone or a web app.

Wunderlist even lets you customize the app’s background which, while it’s not the primarily thing we look for in a todo list app, is still nice.

Both apps have a Today view which let you see, at a glance, all the tasks you planned for the current day.

They have a reminder feature so you don’t forget a task when it’s due.They both let you share a list of tasks to your friends or colleagues.

With both apps you can email yourself a task to have it appear in the desired project.

Lastly, you can add files and comments to your tasks in both apps.

Now, the main reason why I switched to Todoist is the ability to organize your projects and tasks a lot more precisely and efficiently than Wunderlist. Todoist simply offers more control and possibilities.

What Todoist does than Wunderlist can’t (or isn’t as good at)

Multiple levels of prioritization

It’s important to have a todo list, but it’s equally important to prioritize your tasks. Wunderlist offers a very basic form of prioritizing, which simply consists in starring a task, which puts it up a the top of your list. That’s it, just one level.

Todoist, on the other side, offers 4 levels of prioritization, which lets you be more granular in your priority levels. This in turn gives you more clarity and direction on the order of doing things.

For example, in my different projects, I like to set 3 tasks daily, ranking from priority 1 to 3. I know that the priority 1 task is the one that absolutely must be done. The others are more “bonus”, but at the end of the day, if I achieved priority 1 and 2 tasks, or even just the priority 1, I’m happy.

Multiple levels of nesting

Wunderlist only lets you have one level of tasks (although each task can have subtasks), and those tasks belong to a project. Optionally, you can group several projects into a folder. For a lot of people, this can be enough. But if you want more levels of imbrication, you can’t.

With Todoist, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to organizing your tasks and projects. You can nest projects and tasks on multiple levels. Your tasks aren’t just limited to main tasks and their subtasks; every task can be a subtask of another, without any limitation on the number of levels. You can have sub-sub-sub tasks if you want. The same goes for projects: you can create sub-projects, sub-sub-projects, and so on.

Just look at that:

And the rest

Then, there’s many other key differences that definitely convinced me to make the switch:

  • Granularity of control: within Wunderlist, you can reorder tasks inside a project, and… that’s it. If you’re in the Today view, you’re just presented with a list of your tasks, grouped in their respective folders, but you can’t do any sort of reordering. You can’t even move one task into another project from the Today view, because you just cannot move the tasks around. With Todoist, all tasks are draggable practically everywhere, so you can change their parent project, make a task a subtask of another one, or simply reorder them if you want to sort them visually, just the way you want. This makes it a lot more easier to reorganize them quickly.
  • Weekly view in Wunderlist suffers the same problem. You can’t rearrange tasks or move them to another day by dragging and dropping. The weekly view is a fixed, static view, just for display. In Todoist, you can change the due date of a task simply by dragging it to another day of the week. It’ll automatically update the task’s due date and show up in the new designated day.
  • Todoist quick task input is THE killer feature. It’s incredibly powerful and allows you to quickly add tasks with a lot of details and parameters. The level of control you can have on the details is fantastic. For example, Wunderlist does support recurring tasks, but in a very simple way: you can set a task to repeat every day, every week or every month. That’s it. With Todoist, you do such things as creating a task that is going to repeat every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two months, starting next week, and that has top (level 1 priority). All of that in a few seconds. Simply type Run every monday, wednesday, friday starting next week for 2 months p1 and voilà!
    Todoist natural language input
  • More powerful reminders. While Wunderlist supports reminders, they’re very basic. You set the reminder date and time, and that’s it. While it may be sufficient for many, with Todoist, you can set a default reminder that will fire a certain amount of time before the due date of a task, but you can also customize it, for each task, and have it fire from 10 minutes up to 1 month before, or at the exact due time. Even better: you can choose to receive a reminder based on your location, either when you arrive there or leave, which of course is helpful if you’re using the phone app.
  • Labels and filters. Finally, Todoist allows you to apply labels and filters to tasks, just like in Gmail, which gives you even more control on how you can view and organize your tasks. So you can choose to display a very specific subset of tasks. Want to see all the tasks due within the next 2 days in project X with priority 1 or 2 ? Check. All tasks of priority 1 in both projects Y and Z that are overdue or for today ? Easy. How about all the tasks with no due date ? Done.

Todoist sheer power resides in the quick task input which lets you swiftly add detailed tasks with a lot of parameters, the fine grain level of control allowing you to organize tasks exactly the way you want by drag and dropping them as you like, and the ability to add labels and filters to tasks to display them the way you precisely want to, e.g. I can choose to display a list of the tasks of two specific projects that are in priority 1 or 2, and that are due by the end of the week.

In conclusion, both apps are really good and you’ll be fine with any one of them. It all depends on what you look for in your Todo list manager. If you want a simple, straightforward todo list app with no fuss, Wunderlist is a very good choice. But if, like me, you seek a solution that will give you more control and let you organize your tasks in a more complex fashion, allowing you to display and arrange your list items very precisely, go for Todoist.

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