Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Thing 13: Getting Things Done with Toodledo

What is it?

Toodledo is a task management tool which gives you all of facilities you need to implement GTD (Getting Things Done) a time management methodology. While GTD has a number of dedicated advocates it's not necessary to become a follower in order to get some real benefit from Toodledo. I'd be lost with out it, if nothing else it means I have tackled the problems of having a desk full of hastily taken notes and an inbox full of emails to process.

Toodledo is a free web based tool you can access from any browser and there are also free apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices. Toodledo adopts a Freemium business model meaning that the core facilities are provide free (without adverts) but advanced features such as sharing lists with others require a subscription.

Why use it?

As with the earlier post on Evernote the main reason for using Toodledo is to-do lists which sync between all of you devices. So, how would you choose which to use? My feeling is that Evernote is better for note taking and dumping the details of conversations, ideas and important email snippets. I view it like a digital log book. The CEO of Evernote stated recently that he thought Evernote wasn't great for to-do lists yet, so if your focus is dealing with lists and managing your attention on tasks then Toodledo might be the place to start.

If you decide you need both of these tools in your life then it's worth looking at how people make productivity tools work together. A simple example is how to link to Evernote from ToodleDo.

The power of Toodledo is how it provides different views on your tasks. Folders, contexts, priority and stars give you the flexibility to organise tasks in a way that fits how you think and work.


To give you a flavour of how it works let's take the top five items from your current to-do list and add them to Toodledo. We will then use Toodledo to manage these tasks until they are complete, if you find that it works well for you just keep adding more.

1. Register for an account at http://www.toodledo.com/signup.php

2. Once you've signed in you can start creating tasks straight away. The screenshot below shows the main toolbar from where you can simply add tasks in the "Quick Add Task" box or use 'Add Task' to provide additional detail:

3. By now you should have five tasks in your list. You could stop here and simply use Toodledo to be a drop box of everything you need to action but in a few more steps we have a simple way to categorise  your tasks. Access the "Folders" section under the "Organize" menu item.

Personally I have two folders "Home" and "Work". Each time I create a task I add it to the relevant folder. Create the folders you need perhaps one for a project you are working on and another for daily tasks.

4. Go back to the main page ("Tasks"). Each of your tasks will show "No Folder" under the "Folder" heading. Click on "No Folder" and add your task to the appropriate folder. You can do the same for due date and priority if you like.

5. Now we are in a position to demonstrate how Toodledo lets you view tasks in different ways. Use the left-hand menu shown below to view tasks by folder, due date or how recently they've been changed.

Each of the menu options will give you further ways to refine your list. One of the best things about Toodledo is how these options allow you to focus on the things you must do now. It's a good way to avoid procrastination and getting distracted by those easy tasks that give you a sense of achievement but stop the important things getting done.

6. There are lots of ways to organise and view tasks so continue to explore the options and perhaps share what you find as a comment on this post. Contexts are a good way to bring some order to a long list without creating lots of folders. If you start using Toodledo full time I recommend looking at contexts.

7. Obviously the most important thing is marking an item as complete, just click on the tick box at the left-hand side of the task and it will be crossed through or dimmed (the option to cross or dim along with many other things can be controlled from your account settings). From the "show" item on the toolbar you can choose to hide completed tasks.

One thing to keep in mind is that the free version of Toodledo only keeps your completed tasks for a week. If you upgrade to the paid version this is extended to two years.

For videos, help and more information check out the Toodledo help and learning centre


  1. Hi Andrew

    I'm a bit of a GTD novice. I'm doing this exercise with two tools: Toodledo, and Astrid.

    What, for you, is the key difference between using folders and contexts?

    I've added some contexts in Toodledo but can't work out how to apply them to items (or vice versa)without readding them from within the context itself. I'm likely missing something pretty obvious B-)


  2. Hi Ruth,

    The idea of a context is that it should describe where you are or what you are doing. Examples could be desk, email, shops, boss, phone. GTD encourages you to focus on something for a set period of time. When you are in email mode you just pull up everything you've marked with email and crank through the tasks.

    Folders are aimed for a project or high level grouping but contexts work across folders. An example of how this might be useful could be when you are in a meeting with your boss. You can easily pull up all tasks with the context boss but they might be in different folders.

    To add contexts to tasks you should be able to click on the "No Context" text and select from the list you've created.

    Not sure if that explains things clearly or not? If not drop by sometime or catch me around LFA and I'll see if I can help.

    I've not seen Astrid before, I like the interface but I think I would miss contexts. Looks like Astrid has been acquired by Yahoo so everyone gets a premium account. The most interest part of that is sharing lists with others.

  3. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for clarifying this. I can see that folders and contexts used together would provide focus in given situations, as well as maintaining control across a range of projects.

    Sadly I still cannot see the 'No Context' text on my screen. It's either me, my Toodledo settings, or my browser (most probably the former!) It'd be great if I could have a look at yours some time.

    I went off Astrid quite quickly; as you say, the lack of contexts. The octopus (or squid?) with fangs avatar was also a factor. I've chosen Nirvana instead, and blogged about them both.

    Thanks for your help,