Toodledo: A Practical To Do List
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To be clear, Toodledo is not the prettiest looking app in the world nor is it the most feature-rich. It does one thing and it does it very well, manage your todo list.
You won’t be awed by the interface or even the innovative new features, but you will be impressed by how fast, powerful and useful this app is.
In short, if you use todo lists to organize your life, whether you’re a follower of Getting Things Done or just simply scrawl notes on paper as you go along, this is a site you may want to try and see how well it fits into your day-to-day life.
Already it has become one of the five tabs in my browser I never close (along with Gmail, Meebo, Twitter and my blog’s backend) and one of the few apps I’ve been motivated to move up to the pro version.
But as impressed as I am, it clearly is not an app that is right for everyone and it is up to you to decide if it can fit your needs.
Toodledo is a todo list manager. It is really that simple. You can add tasks, set due dates, priorities and other information and then mark tasks as done. You can also set up recurring tasks, such as in my case articles due every week, and use it to keep track of notes and goals.
Toodledo, however, does offer integration with outside services. For example, Google Calendar can easily subscribe to your Toodledo list. Toodledo also integrates with Twitter (for both creating todos and getting reminders), Firefox (via an addon) and even has an iPhone app.
Toodledo will be most compared with Remember the Milk (RTM), a similar todo list manager. However, Toodledo has a lot of elements going for it to make that comparison more than favorable.
The most important element of Toodledo is organization. Toodledo doesn’t just try to help you see what you need to do but where your time is best spent. This is done automatically by combining your stated priorities, the deadlines and the estimated time that you say you have remaining and calculating the relative importance of each task.
The idea is not to just show you what you have to do today, but how you can accomplish the most with the time you have left. This is brought to a head in Toodledo’s “Hostlist” feature, which lists the tasks that are most important for you to perform right then.
To make this organization possible, Toodledo lets you add a slew of information about each task. Ranging from the standard elements of descriptions, due dates, time estimates and tags, but also includes context, goal and status information. You can also perform time tracking on individual tasks, including both the time estimated and the actual time taken.
However, a todo list can’t help you organize it unless you have access to it. Even with a free account, Toodledo makes it easy to get your information where you need it. Not only does it offer the standard array of features including SMS notifications and mobile-friendly site, you can also use the iPhone app with a free account (though the app costs $2.99) and you can even print out a special booklet to take with you when you can’t use your phone.
All of this is available with the free account. The pro version adds even more features, which I’ll discuss in a minute, but even that costs less than $15 per year, a full $10 cheaper than RTM.
However, this isn’t to say that Toodledo is for everyone. Those already comfortable with RTM might find little reason to leave, especially when they get a look at the app itself.
The most visible shortcoming of Toodledo is its appearance. This is not an app in any danger of winning major design awards. It could politely be called functional because that is exactly what it is. Where RTM uses a single line to input new tasks (along with a code that has to be learned) Toodledo uses a more traditional input system with mutltiple fields. I found this easier to pick up than RTM but much more overwhelming at the same time.
Where RTM is minimalist to a fault, Toodledo tries to present as much information as possible. While it is quick to read and access, it is far from easy on the eyes. To make matters worse, a lot of the more important features, such as due times, are buried in the options and have to be access by configuring Toodledo to display them.
In short, where RTM has a very “zen” look to it, Toodledo is very corporate and busy.
Also, RTM has much better support from third-party developers. Though Toodledo has done a decent job getting it into the most important applications, much of that accomplished through its support for iCal format, the same as RTM, there just aren’t as many third party apps or integrations for Toodledo at this time.
Still, Toodledo is probably everywhere you need it, unless you are dedicated to a certain integration or a particular app, so it probably is not a game-killer by itself.
Is Pro Worth It?
With RTM, the main pro feature is the ability to access the service via their free iPhone app or other mobile app. With Toodledo, that feature is free with the purchase of their app. However, their pro service still adds some pretty compelling features including:
- Scheduler: The scheduler works something like a secretary where you tell it how many hours you can work and it prioritizes your tasks and tells you what you can knock out.
- Statistics: This lets you look at the tasks you’ve completed and see where you may want to work harder in the future.
- Subtasks: The ability to add tasks within other tasks to indicate the steps that need to be completed.
- Enhanced Alarms: The ability to be alerted at up to five locations of an impending deadline and the ability to customize the lead time (unpaid accounts can only get alerts at one location, one hour in advance).
- Longer Retention of Completed Tasks: Hang on to completed tasks for up to two years.
If you’re getting good use out of the service, $14 per year is not unreasonable to ask for both the new features and the chance to support it. However, the “pro plus” account, which is $29 per year, is not a very good deal as it only adds indefinite retention of completed tasks and file storage.
With little use for completed tasks past two years and many other good file storage services available (Dropbox is free and provides syncing across computers), the pro account is pretty much all anyone should need.
But even if you don’t upgrade to pro at all, Toodledo is more than usable, especially if you purchase and use the iPhone app, and it should work very well for you.
If you already use RTM and find it adequate for your needs, you probably won’t have much cause to consider switching to Toodledo. If it serves its purpose, there’s not much to make you switch to an uglier interface, even if it has more features.
But for those who are new to using online todo lists, Toodledo is definitely worth considering. It adds new features and may greatly help improve your organization. If you can look past how ugly the interface can be at times, you’ll find an intuitive, powerful todo list manager that is honed in on one thing and does it well.
However, that does put Toodledo in a strange position. Though it does well for me, those with simpler needs will likely prefer RTM’s interface and those who need more power will likely be drawn to tools that integrate more closely with invoicing applications. Toodledo seems to be best for those somewhere in the middle between the two.
Despite this though, Toodledo is cheaper and more powerful than RTM and provides mobile access without a pro account. It’s faults don’t take away from its effectiveness and, when trying to get things done, that is what is most important.