Omnifocus versus Todoist

By 4. January 2015 Productivity

I really tried. I wanted to give Todoist, a rapidly growing platform for task management, a serious try. As a serious Omnifocus user. It didn’t work.

Why on earth would an invested Omnifocus user switch to Todoist?

Well, in short because of

  1. Sharing
    Todoist let’s me easily share tasks with my wife related to managing our private life with two kids. Omnifocus is showing no signs to develop in this direction.
  2. Tags & Filters
    Context in Omnifocus only provides one dimension (although nested). Tags in Todoist allows me to build any (multidimensional) view on my tasks no matter how far I take tags. I am aware that if you standardise the naming of your tasks you can include a respective search in your Omnifocus Perspective – but that seems very fiddly to me.
  3. Speed
    Todoist syncs nearly instantaneously. With Omnifocus I always have to wait a few seconds before things are updated. And yes, I have background sync enabled in Omnifocus.
  4. Attachments
    It’s probably me but I always hesitated to put attachments in my Omnifocus database because I feared it would make it slow down or consume too much space. Todoist as a web based platform at least to me seems much better suited to handle bigger file attachments.

So I gave Todoist a serious try. I switched all my projects over, set up my wife with an account and tested the pro features for about a month (without Pro features it is very bare bones). I did the full monty: Exchanged my today widget on the iPhone, installed Todoist on all my Macs and IOS devices, even hooked it up to IFTTT and switched to Cloudmagic on my IOS devices to be able to process email directly into Todoist.

I also faced a stressful period at work where a lot of projects were getting pretty intense at the same time – perfect conditions to test drive a task management system. To put things into context – I overlook approx. 30 active projects at a time in a company with north of 500 staff. From experience I know I should maintain a good handle on my projects when things are getting hot. Otherwise it all falls apart pretty quickly and I loose control.

And this is exactly the point where Todoist broke down for me. It took me too long to update lots of tasks in lots of projects multiple times a day. I missed Omnifocus’ start dates, sequential projects and focussing abilities which allow me to filter better on what is really available, important and urgent at the same time.

I tried to accomplish this by setting up various filters. But no matter what I did – I always felt overwhelmed as I had to look at too many unrelevant tasks at the same time. I started fiddling again with filters – exactly what I wanted to avoid especially during a period where all of my resources were required to actually DO things.

It is not about price. Omnifocus on Mac, Ipad and Iphone add up quite nicely in (one-time) cost. Todoist is 23 Euro per year per person for the premium plan – for my wife and myself this translates to about three years of usage before I hit the Omnifocus price range. I am happy to pay for a solution which I use on a daily basis in order to manage my various roles.

In short, I learned that the following features in Todoist are essential for me before even consider switching again:

  • Start dates
  • Automatic ‘next action’ available per project
  • Better filtering in the UI, not only by filters

For Omnifocus I would like to see:

  • Task sharing
  • Tags
  • Faster sync

I would like to hope that Todoist adds these features, but I doubt they will be doing so anytime soon. For the time being Omnifocus just has to be my sort of hammer for the type of work I do.

5 Comments

  • Bruce Maples says:

    Thanks for the succinct comparison. I’m on OF for now, but since TD put out a new IOS app, I’m giving it another look. The lack of tags in OF is a problem for me (and I use contexts correctly; I just would like to add tags for more view possibilities). And, lack of Start Date or Defer To Date is also a problem.

    Off to do some more reading and considering. Thanks again!

  • Luca says:

    Thanks for this comparison. I agree with your conclusions and they were extremely helpful.

  • Blaine says:

    Hi Sven:
    I just went through my own head-to-head comparison of Omnifocus 2(Pro), Things, Wunderlist, and Todoist. Todoist definitely has a lot of features, and I really wanted to like its format (especially since the new iOS app looks beautiful). But, in the end the power & functionality of Omnifocus won out. Todoist’s lack of Siri support, start date support, and an interface that get’s pretty busy when the number of projects escalates were all problems.

    I love the interface of Things, but it lacks subtasks, a mechanism for emailing tasks, and iOS apps don’t support all features. (Waiting for Things 3, maybe–if I knew what was in it, or in what year it might be released….)

  • It’s hard to find educated people on this subject, but
    you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • David says:

    I’m still a newbie at GTD, but started with Todoist. Really liked it until I realized I needed to have a Start Date and not just a Due Date. After researching I switched to 2Do. It’s worked really well for me and has all the must-have features talked about in this article. The biggest thing I missed is having an easy way to send mail directly to 2Do. But the developer recently created a helper app that’s supposed to capture email automatically (after you set criteria) and port it to 2Do. I’ve found it doesn’t work exactly as I hoped, but think it will improve. I say give 2Do a try.

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