Todoist vs. Omnifocus 4

As someone who quite the OF4 public beta twice… the last time permanently I just did not like the way OF4 was going, 2 inspectors, one inline the other as per the set up in OF3 navigation was a mess for me particularly on phone, the iPad was not to bad but the design was I am guessing worked out on the iPad and transferring it to the phone seemed to be not working out.

I had years invested in OF plus an irrational fondness for it. At one stage I ran OF4 Things3 and Todoist in tandem to give me a fair assessment. Todoist as people have said felt “wrong” on a mac and just too much white space on the phone. As much as I was dismissive of Things3 when it launched I was wrong. It requires a mindset change but the ability to set tags at “area” level, headings and checklists have streamlined the way I work. I run a few shortcuts and a KBMaestro palette to simulate the " OF perspective" views I need so a vote for Things3 from me!

I had the same issue with Todoist. A non-native app that does not integrate well. Everything has to be added via clicks and email. I loved it’s speed and natural language, but in the end went with Things3. I did use the OF beta, but it was like trying to manage your tasks with boeing cockpit controls, way too much overhead. The things I miss from OF are the review feature and perspectives. Perhaps the final v4 will pleasantly surprise, but definitely not the beta.

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Crazy to see people talking about how the non-native feel of Todoist bogs things down. The natural language support of Todoist makes it feel so much faster to me than something like Things 3. In Things 3 it took me a zillion clicks to do anything!

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At first, I did miss Todoist’s natural language support when I switched back to Things, but then realized it is the same number of clicks and nearly identical syntax, with just a different modifier key, with the exception of picking a date, which takes an extra keystroke in Things. For example, to move a task to a project in Todoist, the # key requires using the Shift key, so you have to type Shift+3 on the keyboard to enter a # symbol, followed by the project name. In Things, you type Command+Shift+M and then the project name. So entering a project in both apps requires typing a modifier plus the project. Same with tags.

In Things, date entry does support natural language, but you have to type Command+S first, so there is one more keystroke. I had actually turned off “smart date recognition” in Todoist, though, as it interfered with the way I use a task manager to record “last action” rather than “next action”. (I enter what I just did and the date, so I know at a glance where I left off with something. Todoist was trying to turn that “last action” into a due date.)

Again, this isn’t meant to imply Things is “better,” just that it works better for me. I just wanted to point out the similarities in this one regard, although it’s been several months now since I used Todoist, so I could be overlooking another benefit of its natural language entry, which is a great feature.

I wish Todoist would add defer dates.

Not real defer dates, but you can imitate it. Here is a post from earlier this year about a system I set up.

Todoist was the first task manager I actually ‘used’, it is a great application with many integration possibilities. I’m not using it anymore though… for me defer dates are one of the reasons to switch to Omnifocus. Besides that the non-native feel (feels like a web app, which in the end it is) and the fact it does not work with Hook unless you use the web-browser is the reason I stick with Omnifocus. I follow Todoist on Twitter and the amount of time it seems there are issues with connecting to the service do put me off a bit… probably not a giant issue for most people.

In the beginning I really like the natural language processing. But when I started reviewing my Inbox daily it became apparent form me that the natural language processing just is not that important for me.

The ways you can access Todoist and the wat it integrates with do many tools still is great, especially when working in a mixed Windows/ Apple (or android) environment.

I agree that this is not the biggest issue for ‘most’ people, but I feel the same way about it. It’s not a huge issue, but for apps I rely on daily I really like them to have a native feel.

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It’s not just about data entry, but connectivity. Non-native apps simply don’t integrate, from spellchecking to dragging and dropping links, shortcut keys, etc. Things 3 is a hub for me that is a hive of connectivity for other apps and files and folders in finder, emails,etc. This is something Todoist will never replicate. With Todoist you live in a web browser and it is greatly silo’d from your os.

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What gets me about OF is it’s $100 price tag.

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It’s not cheap, but it is a one-time purchase which will last for years. Todoist uses a subscription model, you can use the free version, but it’s limited.

Also if privacy (GDPR) is an issue Todoist might not be the best option, by which I mean that you should be careful what information you store in Todoist, it is the reason I cannot use it for work.

So is the standalone version a separate purchase on iOS?

I guess not much point forking out for OF3 on both is OF4 is around the corner.

Yes, unfortunately it is a separate purchase, You probably will get a discount or maybe even a free upgrade if a new release comes available soon, you could ask Omnigroup about this.

Omnifocus also has a subscription available which gives you access to the iOS, macOS and Web versions. It is also a way to try it for some time before purchasing a license. And is you want to use the web client the subscription probably is a better deal anyway.

That’s what I mean though. With a subscription at $99 it makes it very expensive! Life is money money money!!

OF4 will have a universal purchase that will grant you all 3 platforms as a one time purchase. Price points haven’t been announced but it may align with past history.

If you can get $100 worth of value from an app (subscription or license), price is not an obstacle. A graphic designer or photographer makes their living with adobe photoshop (or the entire adobe suite). The subscription is offset by the benefits received.

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Thanks all for your thoughts. The critiques and criticisms of Todoist are convincing me it might not be the best option – though I’d be curious to hear if the Kanban view feature has been a game-changer for anyone.

There is a surprising amount of enthusiasm for Things, so maybe I’ll revisit it.

I was previously between Goodtask and Things 3, using Trello for more of my big picture planning and those other two apps (first Goodtask, then Things) for the more day to day task planning. That worked relatively well for me for a long time but I found having to replicate my projects across systems a little frustrating.

Ultimately, I ended up switching to Todoist despite also noting it’s non-native feel (though not necessarily finding it ugly, its integration with the OS is more limited). There were a few reasons for this: first, I work in a fast-paced clinical setting and found that I didn’t have the time/cognitive space for maintaining overlapping systems. I also am partnered to a non-Apple user, and we’ve used Todoist for shared tasks for years. While there are fewer OS integrations, having Todoist integrate well with my multiple email accounts and be accessible from hospital computers was a plus.

But probably the thing that really makes me stay is the board view. Being able to have smaller task lists and life tasks in the same place as my kanban boards for my research and writing output has been amazing. It’s particularly been great with the new task view. For each writing project or conference talk, I make a non-completable task that has core information and a description of the project. I use subtasks to define stages of the project with nested sub tasks underneath them. I use the comment function as a kind of working log of when I’ve done things for the project, and I also heavily make use of links (to google docs or ulysses groups, zotero collections, obsidian notes, or mind maps). The end result is that I have a main board for my publications in progress and another for conferences and talks. These give me a big picture overview of what’s on my plate and what stage each project is in. By clicking on the main task for a project I’m then able to see essentially everything for the project in one view without clicking around. This has really helped me feel more on top of the status of everything I’m working on, and then I can just work out of my daily or weekly lists when I’m not in that big picture planning mindset.

I’m not a Todoist evangelist, and there’s many things I love about Things as well! But just figured I’d share how having the boards has helped my workflow.

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I just started using Todoist this week, after years on Things 3. So far I’m enjoying it. Yes, I wish it were native, but it has so much more functionality than Things. I’ve started to question whether Cultured Code are still working full time on Things 3. The feature updates seem relatively minor and mostly on things that don’t advance the ball for me. If they have a plan for Things 3, it escapes me.

I have used Omnifocus 3 in the past, but wow is it ugly and not pleasant to use. Omnifocus 4 doesn’t seem to be focused on fixing those issues.

So far, Todoist seems like a nice middle ground. Visually pleasing like Things 3, but many of the functions found in Omnifocus. Todoist also seems to be under active development, with new features added routinely, user feedback implemented, etc.

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Can you explain what functionality it has that’s missing from Things?

Four of the most notable, at least for the way I use task managers:

  1. Ability to sort by various criteria.
  2. Saved searches (called filters – like Omnifocus Perspectives)
  3. Sub-projects and hierarchy.
  4. Ability to put something directly in a section from the capture dialog box.
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