TickTick vs Todoist
I have spent the best part of 4 years looking for the perfect to do app/ task manager for myself.
In fact, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that if I’d spent as much time being productive, rather than looking for ways to be productive…. I’d no doubt have accomplished a lot more.
But there you are, it’s all a process and I thought I’d jot down a few of my observations on these two extremely popular task managers.
I’m an Apple house – Everything is Apple, including my wife’s stuff. I typically haven’t needed any sort of collaboration, which is why I’ve been using Things 3 from Cultured Code for the past year or so. Things 3 is very aesthetically pleasing and feels extremely Apple when it comes to the navigation – Although it’s significantly better than any native Apple app I’ve used.
But recently, my wife has started a new business, and I thought it was a good time to at least try and make ourselves a little more productive and in sync when it comes to some of the tasks we need to do (we already use a shared calendar for most things).
Because of that, Things 3 was out of the question (no collaboration), and after a few days of research, it came down to TickTick and Todoist.
I did far more research than I needed to do for this, but the ultimate conclusion was….. Everyone uses these apps in a different way, and it’s a case of weighing up the compromises, to see which ones you can live with (or can’t live without).
The overall feeling I got from the various online communities were…..
People were very tired of waiting for Todoist to be developed and updated – The company had teased various new features earlier in the year (like kanban boards), and had released nothing since then. Whilst there is no doubt the app is very well made, I wouldn’t bank on new features coming thick and fast. If it doesn’t have what you want now, look elsewhere.
TickTick suffered from the opposite problem – It was more of a “new kid on the block”, and had developed a very attractive offering in a relatively short space of time. But what that comes bugs, inconsistencies and frustrations.
It was evident that neither of the apps would be perfect, so it was simply a case of using them both and seeing if anything stood out.
I’ll start with arguably the more popular and well known option, Todoist. It’s worth bearing in mind that I likely use my to do apps slightly differently to you, so you’ll need to take that into consideration when weighing up the options.
I’ll also try and focus on the things that are slightly more specific to my needs, as there are plenty of reviews and walkthroughs on Todoist on the web.
Let’s start with the biggest drawback, and arguably the “over before it began” feature….. Calendar view.
Todoist does not have a calendar view anywhere to be seen. I don’t like my apps to be bloated, but I long for an app to “run my life” – That 1 app you pick up to tick off little tasks, check ongoing/repeating reminders, plan for larger work and home projects, and also view important dates in the calendar.
I’ve never seen the point of having a task manager to plan certain things, without the ability to see what is in your calendar…… It means I have to check 2 different places, and I’m less likely to get it right.
However, I’ll note one important aspect here….. I want to see my calendar entries in my task manager (I never usually have more than 4 or 5 calendar entries in a day), but I don’t want to see my tasks in my calendar.
I still check my calendar regularly, and it contains all of the time sensitive information. Meetings, family events, birthdays etc – Anything that has to happen on that date, goes in the calendar. Generally speaking, my tasks don’t need a date or time assigned to them, and I only do so to plan my week evenly.
I don’t want things like “Flea the dog” appearing in my calendar every month – It’s a task that needs to stay in my task manager.
Not to mention my main (99% most used) calendar is my shared one with the wife. Having a 2 way sync here would cause more issues than it would fix.
What does Todoist have regarding calendar sync?
There are options available if you really wanted to use Todoist.
The 2 way sync with GCal is very good, and you can sync certain projects if you didn’t need everything synced.
You can also subscribe to other calendars to keep things in sync – But these are work arounds and might not necessarily get you what you want.
For me to get as close as I’d want, I’d need to sync my main shared calendar between GCal and Todoist, but only sync 1 project (I’d call it “Calendar”) – That project would never be used whilst in Todoist, and it would only have things entered into it when new calendar entries were added in GCal.
This would at least allow me to see my calendar entries in Todoist, whilst not clogging up my calendar with tasks.
Issue number 2 for me was the way Todist handled badge notifications on iOS. Unlike my wife, I make sure all of Myths badge notifications (the little red circle) are attended to. That means that anything which has a badge number needs my attention immediately in general.
With Things3, I’d set up the badge icon to only appear when I had an overdue task. Whilst some may argue “it’s too late by then”, as I look at my task manager multiple times per day, the likelihood is that I had intended for it to rollover to the following day, and had simply not changed the due date yet.
Todoist doesn’t allow you to customise this – As soon as 00:00 comes around on the day a task is due, the little red icon pops up.
It could be a task (or calendar entry if you’ve done the above syncing), that isn’t due until 10pm that night…. But it’ll stay there until you’ve ticked it off.
This would be incredibly annoying for me, and ultimately make me numb to these important notifications. I’d end up missing something that really mattered because that red circle would pretty much live on the icon.
I don’t follow any specific method as such – I’m aware of GTD, but don’t stick to it. I have a basic system which is typically 2 or 3 structures.
From an overview, I might have “Work” or “Home” topics – Within these I’ll have various projects, and very rarely I’ll have a project inside one of those.
Todoist doesn’t allow you to create a “folder” so to speak. I have to create a project, despite never ever inputting any tasks into this project. I can then create sub projects which sit inside that first one, but it means that when I tap on the first “project”, it’s asking me to input a task, rather than dropping down the menu to show the housed sub projects (there is a little arrow to the right of it which will drop down two give you this view).
However, whist that is how it works on iOS, it’s a different story on Mac OS (for the better).
You can click on the parent project name (Home, for example), and it’ll give you an overview of all of your sub projects and their associated tasks – It’s actually pretty good.
Despite these frustrating issues, there are some positives to Todoist; although I won’t cover these in depth.
One of the things you do most often with a task manager….. Input tasks.
Todoist makes this incredibly easy with it’s natural language algorithm and the ability to do absolutely everything from the task input field.
As you know, one of the reasons I was looking at this is because of the potential collaboration with my wife down the line – In Todoist, you can simply @ whoever in the input field, whereas TickTick has a more cumbersome way of achieving this result.
If it aint broke, don’t fix it comes to mind. Development might be glacial, but the app is polished and feels a little more rounded than TickTick.
You can’t break things if you don’t add things springs to mind here!
The Todoist subreddit is arguably one of the highlights of the whole app. The fact that so many people spend time discussing set ups, advising others and generally being super helpful is incredibly valuable. This is a big thing for the services I use, and a good online community can make all the difference.
There is a reason Todoist is considered the best of all task managers. It’ll likely be fine for 95% of people, and if your benchmark is iOS reminders or Google Tasks…. You’ll be blown away by this. Even if you are coming from a more mature task manager, you can quickly work out if Todoist is for you.
There is promise of a big overhaul in 2019. But with development being so slow, it’s probably worse to see some exciting new features, only for them to take forever to arrive.
It’s so good they named it twice….. The challenger to the throne or king of the mountain, depending on which side of the fence you are on.
For me, it’s somewhere in between. It has the most purpose in my workflow, but there are still some quirks which I wish weren’t there.
Let’s dive into them first.
Possibly my biggest bugbear of this app.
I can’t even talk about Android or Windows, but there are times it feels like I’m using a different app when on iOS and Mac OS.
Some obvious ones for me are:
• Kanban boards are available on Mac OS, but not iOS
• You can complete a calendar entry (tick it off to remove it from the days view), on iOS, but not Mac OS – So once you’ve ticked off “Wake up at 7am” for example, it’ll be gone from your iOS view, but it remains on your Mac view all day.
• Plan your day view – This allows you to go through your “today” tasks one by one and sort them out, it’s great! However…. It’s only available on iOS, and not Mac OS! If I was sitting down sorting something like this out, it would be Mac OS all day long.
• Emoji support – I love a good emoji at the start of my projects. I find it makes it visually appealing and is a quick separator when viewing lots at once. You can do this easily on iOS, but for some reason, you can’t add an emoji to the start of a project name on the Mac.
There are likely quite a few more, but these are the obvious ones I’ve found, which really don’t need to exist – You should be able to port all of these features to all platforms.
Rather than list them individually, I thought I’d group it all here.
Bugs happen, I get that, but it’s how quickly you can erase those bugs that count.
Looking at the TickTick forum (help page), there are really old bugs that still exist – A particularly frustrating one is the use of time zones, and how all tasks with a time will be displayed incorrectly.
Even for me, in the UK, it can’t cope with our Daylight Saving Time. Although it only affects the natural language input, and if you manually select a time, it seems to be fine….. Go figure.
Another annoying one for me is the way the Mac app types incredibly slowly when inputting a new task (at times). Again, it’s been reported numerous times, but no fix has been forthcoming.
There are others of course, and depending on how you use the app will depend on if you encounter them.
Lack of community
Pretty much, what it says on the tin. There aren’t loads of places to discuss TickTick online, and in fact, the Todoist subreddit is probably the place that pops up the most!
Their own help forum is OK, but it doesn’t inspire confidence, and is regularly ignored when there is no update on a help topic.
That’s probably it with the obvious frustrations from me, so onto why I actually use TickTick.
You guessed it, the sync and integration with local calendars is so seamless. They appear quietly, fit into place well, and give you a really clean view of your upcoming week.
Not only that, but TickTick has a built in calendar that you can view everything in – I rarely use this, but it’s great for my wife who lives in this view.
It’s unmatched when it comes to calendars in my opinion, and it doesn’t just work with Google (all of our calendars are iCloud).
I actually don’t like a lot of customisation – I find my designing to be lacklustre, and when I see how other sets up look on different apps, I always rue that I can’t get them to look the same (Notion is a prime example here).
But TickTick offers just enough customisation to make it valuable. This is especially useful when deciding what filters to have on the home screen – I typically live in the “today” and “next 7 day” view – But others never look at that at all.
You can add your own, remove the pre filled ones and make it looks exactly how you want. On other apps, you tend to have to look at a few pre filled options that you never use.
The same applies for the way you can customise what notifications you receive and the badge count for overdue items – All of this only takes 5 minutes or so, but it really makes a difference.
You can create folders which house different projects – This is perfect for my set up and allows me to group similar projects together incredibly easily.
TickTick haven’t been shy with updating the app with new features – And whilst this will inevitably introduce a few cons in the form of bugs, it does make it feel like the app is constantly improving.
I could have easily ended up using Todoist, there wasn’t that much in it.
The fact that TickTick allowed me to use it’s premium plan on a rolling monthly basis, coupled with my wife preferring the look of the TickTick app (and a few of the points listed above), made us go down the TickTick route.
Since we made this decision, I’ve come back and really tried to make Todoist work for me, as I thought the overall polish and reddit community would be winners in the long run (not to mention the promise of big updates this year)…… But there are just too many things that don’t work for me on a daily basis with how Todoist is set up.
So for the time being, TickTick reigns supreme in my household, and with the continued development and more users flocking to use it as their app of choice, I have high hopes for where this can go.
Thanks for reading.