I have tried many to-do list applications and systems. They were all too complicated.

Responsible for two engineering teams at Gusto, I track a lot of to-dos - things I can’t do right away. The sources of my to-dos are meetings, emails, slack, text messages, and phone calls. I need a single system of record that I can access everywhere and into which I can enter to-dos super fast, no matter how big or small the task may be.

I have switched to something so simple, you might think it doesn’t work.

Joplin To-do - too complicated for me

Joplin has built-in to-dos. I don’t use them, but want to share how to use them here so you know your options.

To create a Joplin to-do, type Cmd+T or click the blue checkbox. Except for a checkbox in front of the to-do’s entry in the notes list, everything else is like a standard note. Enter as much info to the to-do as you need to and when you are done, click the checkbox to mark it as done.

This is still too much for me.

To-dos in a note - as simple as it can get

Here is what I do:

Simple to-do management over time

The true test of a to-do management system is how it handles lots of to-dos over a long period of time.

If I ever realize that too many of the to-dos are no longer relevant, I create a new note according to the rules above and copy any relevant to-dos over. The previous to-do list will soon disappear into the long list of daily notes (but still be available for future searches!).


  1. https://stephanhagemann.com/posts/2021-10-29-macos-productivity-joplin-2/ ↩︎

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