I’ve been a happy user of both Todoist and Evernote for a few years now – see my post on using Todoist and Evernote together with Google Calendar to get things done.
However, last year following a period of illness I’ve reconsidered the tools I use. In this post I explain why I switched from Todoist+Evernote to only using Evernote, and why I later decided to go back to my trusted system.
Downsides of Todoist
My main problem with Todoist is that it is too easy add tasks.
That might sound a bit weird. Of course the adding tasks functionality of Todoist widgets is great, and it is easy to capture all the little things you need to do. But since all tasks have the same “weight” (even if you give them different priority), your overall task list becomes too focused on not-always-important, little tasks. Although I was regularly organizing my list, just having all the other tasks there was kind of weighing on me.
A related problem is that when you add a task, you don’t see what tasks you already have scheduled. So you can be too optimistic when adding a task for “tomorrow” when you already have various meetings and other tasks scheduled.
Finally, Todoist has a desktop app, but it doesn’t work if you start it when you are offline.
Evernote as your todo-list
Evernote is not a specific todo-list app, but it is possible to use it as such. You can see notes as individual todos, and then organize them via notebooks or tags, or you can create a checklist in a single note. I decided to go with the checklist approach, and created two notes – “Current” and “Maybe”. “Current” was for anything that was coming up, and “Maybe” for projects that I might or might not do.
Most of the time I worked with the “Current” list, where I made a table with one row for each week, and columns for different types of tasks. I started with “work” and “home”, but later split these up into more categories, based on priority.
This system had several advantages that I missed with Todoist. When adding a task, I had to add it to a specific row, so I would already see what other tasks I had planned for then. Also, I became more aware of the weight of the different tasks, and I feel that overall my todo list became more balanced.
This way my todo list was also accessible offline, and it was in the same app as my other project-related notes.
Downsides of Evernote
Unfortunately, there were a few disadvantages as well, that made me miss Todoist.
The main thing I missed was the integration with Google Calendar – in Todoist I would enter a date and time, and an event would show up on my calendar. Now I had to create a separate “Planning” calendar, and add tasks manually – which I didn’t do consistently.
Another problem was recurrent tasks, which I did once a week or once a month. In Todoist this is basic functionality, but Evernote does not have this feature – you can set a reminder for a note, but when it’s time, you have to reset the reminder yourself.
After 2-3 months of using Evernote only, it felt good to create a list in Todoist again. I’m more mindful of the downsides and am trying to manage them better, for example by using filters for my tasks and scheduling tasks for next week on the calendar. It’s not yet the ideal system I wish I would have, but I think using it consistently does help in the long run.
Do you have any tips of how to create a better todo-list / calendar system? Let me know in the comments!