Task managers: Todoist, Omnifocus, GoodTask--which do you like?

I’m thinking of making the jump from Things. I have been on it for a few years now, but I’m starting to hit up against the limitations.

I’m looking to do two things that Things can’t do:

  • Priorities. I know GTDers hate priorities, but I seem to need them. More precisely, I want to be able to easily group tasks and then list them all together, with the most important bunch at the top, then the next, then the next.
  • View tags inline on iOS and the iPad. Surprisingly, Things doesn’t allow this. You have to tap a task to view its tags.

So far I’ve taken a look–in some cases, a second look–at the following:

  • Omnifocus: Does not do priorities or the kind of sorting I’m looking for. That’s surprising–I thought Perspectives could eat that for breakfast. Excellent candidate but for that one thing, but sadly that one thing is a dealbreaker for me.
  • GoodTask: Ugly. Confusing. Also, repeatedly deleted a task I know I entered—definitely not a trusted system! The whole thing seems held together with glue and Scotch tape. Including metadata as text in the notes in Reminders seems like it’s destined to fail.
  • Native Reminders: Does not support tags for Big Sur, and I’m not likely to be on Monterey for months. Doesn’t support Projects. Maybe I’ll take another look in six months; I’m likely to be on Monterey then.
  • Tasks: Nice, but I’m not interested in its Kanban-style design. I may well give it a try.
  • I also glanced at one that specializes in microscheduling. I can’t remember the name now. I think microscheduling is not for me, but I may give it another try.
  • I’ve heard great things about Amazing Marvin, but haven’t even looked at the website. It’s supposedly infinitely customizable, which actually seems like a minus to me. And jeepers $12/mo seems like a lot to pay for a task manager.

I’m right now trying ToDoist. I tried it a few weeks ago but bounced off it because it’s not a native Mac app. But I decided to try it again, and it’s lasted me much of the day. I get my priorities, inline tags on the iPhone, and as an added bonus I get ToDoist’s nifty language recognition, I get image attachments, and I can have collaboration too if I ever need it.

So, what task manager are you using nowadays, and why?

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I’ve just started trying “GoodTask” today because 2Do isn’t native to Apple Silicon.

That said, I’ve used 2Do for years (came over from “Todo”) and it’s been great.
Critical features for me:

  • Universal keyboard shortcut to bring up the create task window. No matter what I’m doing I have it on muscle memory how to dump that into a task.
  • Durations. I need task duration more than I need task start time.
  • Seamless sync from MacOS to iOS to iPadOS and good to use apps on all platforms

2Do has Priorities (you can rank 0-4 using several different types of icons)
Pretty sure you can view tags inline. I don’t use tags, but lots of other stuff is viewable inline so I assume they are.

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You could look at TickTick - lots of features, decent UI, lowish cost.

Marvin is excellent but takes work. It’s $8 monthly if you pay a year upfront. Pricey, but has a lot to it. It’s the most fully featured of all of them. There’s 30 day trial, if you have the inclination

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OmniFocus, so I’m probably not going to offer you anything useful for your decision.

I use it because my GTD system is fairly traditional (canonical?), and OF has served me well for that approach from day one.

I obviously can’t speak to the sorting limitation you mention, but couldn’t you use tags in OF to name and assign priorities and build a perspective that groups them? (I’ve never tried this so I can’t envision whatever complexities you’d encounter beyond simply displaying them. I’m sure there’s more to it than that.)

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It may not be sufficient for you (and I totally get that), but OmniFocus can sort of do the prioritizing you’re looking for.

If you create some tags ‘A1’, ‘A2’, ‘B1’, etc. you can create a perspective that sorts by tag and everything you’ve tagged will be grouped together. The caveats are:

  1. If the tasks also have other tags, those tags will also show up in the perspective, meaning the task will be shown at least twice.
  2. Tags appear to be sorted by how you have them listed in the tabs view, so if you move the ‘A1’,… to the top of the tags on that view they will be on top of your perspective as well.

Not pretty, a bit strange and kludgy, but it does end up with a list of tasks sorted by priority. There’s just a bunch of extra stuff on the view below them.

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I’m using Obsidian for tasks (yes, still), but I don’t think it’s for most people yet. I will explain how you’d get @MitchWagner’s two bullet points below though.

I celebrate Todoist. I used it for years before OmniFocus and it still tempts me. If it works, stick with it.

Also worth a look:


Adding tags to tasks in Obsidian is literally inline, so that’s that.

To do grouped priorities, you’d set up an embedded search. Something like

task-todo:(tag:p1)

will get you all incomplete tasks with the tag p1. Although I think I’d recommend doing nested tags like p/1, using p as a first level, because then it’s easy to find all priorities and tasks that are not prioritized.

Again, not actually advocating for this solution. Just a thought experiment for me. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Another vote for TickTick. It TickTicks the boxes you asked for. Sorry for the pun. Don’t be TickTicked off at me.

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Not your conventional task manager but I use Trello and am very happy with it. Was previously a Todoist user but they recently cut their free plan to allow 5 projects only and I’m not in the market for a paid todo app right now.

You did say you weren’t interested in Kanban-style design, but I wanted to point out that you could use Trello’s kanban system to do priorities. Trello’s tag system also supports inline viewing. But if Kanban is a deal-breaker then I’d recommend Todoist, provided you can pay for it/you don’t use more than 5 projects

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I discovered that when I took a run at this a few weeks ago and found the extra stuff was too much clutter.

@ryanjamurphy I can see the appeal of using Obsidian for tasks if one is already using Obsidian, but I don’t see it as practical for my purposes.

Pagico looks intriguing–and I think @JohnAtl mentioned it Friday in a separate conversation. I may just take a look. And yeah “now” and “not now” and “Thursday might as well be Christmas.” I feel seen!

@ThatNerd Kanban is not a deal-breaker but it’s not something I’m interested in.

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I use Obsidian for project tasks. It’s what I devote my daily note to. But I don’t find it optimal for everything.

A while ago I realized something that I think is quite fundamental yet escapes the people being romantic about using a single app for everything. Some of your tasks need archiving. And other tasks are ephemeral.

For project tasks, such as fixing a software bug, quite often I will want record, highly annotated, to go back and reference in future. Something like Things is simply not ideal. It’s “doable”. But it’s not suited to entering history, or browsing it, or cross-linking it.

Conversely, for tasks like “water the plants”, I only want the faintest occasional record of when I completed that. And for more ephemeral tasks still, like “buy milk”, any record at all is such worthless noise that I no longer even complete those my Things but rather delete them on completion. For these tasks, although deleting them or forever tending filters to prevent them cluttering searches and custom views in an archival tool like Obsidian is “doable”, it is again, not ideal.

So I use Obsidian for project management, and by association project task management, and Things for plain task management like errands.

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Update: Pagico has this timeline view that I may find useful one day but today is not that day. (That’s an ironic statement, eh?). I’m lousy at estimating how long things take and a lot of my work tends to be push driven–somebody contacts me and I need to follow up. But a lot of my work is predictable and it might be helpful to block that out on a timeline.

At some point. But not now.

Ticktick looks very nice, and I’m looking forward to downloading and trying it. I’ve seen it dissed for being unpolished and a Things ripoff–but it occurs to me that I think I saw that on the Things subreddit, so grain of salt. At first glance, ticktick looks like it might be an upgraded version of Things, or Mac-native version of Todoist, which might be just what I’m looking for.

TickTick is probably the most polished after Things, actually. The only demerit points against it are:

  • It’s Chinese-owned, even though they claim everything is on servers outside of China, and there have been no problems so far with it being Chinese-owned.
  • You need a subscription to differentiate intent dates and deadlines. But TickTick is affordable overall and is very generous with their free features.
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This is an absolutely critical observation that I was a long time coming to.

Oh yeah, absolutely. I am probably not clear enough: when I speak of task management, I speak of the kinds of project and project task management you refer to here.

Similarly, while a lot of these conversations conflate tasks and reminders, I think they’re fundamentally different things. Due is constantly going off for me—just never for “tasks.”

But I think we are off track on supporting Mitch’s spirit quest!

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Hello. Personally Todoist works perfectly for my needs. The natural language capture is great. Works with my other apps — mainly Fantastical and Spark. I use a windows machine at work so having a chrome web extension and website is huge for me.

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Try as I might and I do try,* I just can’t quit Omnifocus.

*I’m playing with TickTick right now damn you @ThatGuy @thealbs @gem

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As am I! (I think I’ve escaped Omnifocus’s Hotel California though …)

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Things by cultured code. Best Keyboard shortcuts and interaction on all platforms. Omnifocus is a great app that I’ve used in the past.

Not sure how much The Hit List is developed now but they have priorities

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Have you tried defining priorities for yourself?

I’ve put due dates only on tasks that must be done by a certain date or a penalty can occur (late fees, angry wife, unhappy boss or colleagues). That’s my highest priority tasks.

Then I flag a task if I want a task that does not have a due date but is important enough to work on for this week.

My due and flagged tasks are what I want to work on. Everything else can be put off for another week or delegated to someone else or deleted altogether.

I keep my “priority” ranks as simple as possible. Due, flagged, and everything else. There isn’t much to gain if I have a Priority “C” task and and Priority “B” task.

I can competently use this philosophy in nearly any task manager.

With that being said, OmniFocus is my go-to.

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You might try Dynalist (Obsidian devs) or Workflowy; the outlining plus filtering might fit your prioritization needs and they both do tasks inline well. Of course they’re missing a bunch of other dedicated task manager features.

I’m happy with OmniFocus but I would really like it to support inline tags in addition to its actual tag system.

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