Distinguishing different kinds of deadlines in to-do apps
February 10, 2020 7:38 AM   Subscribe

To-do list app users: How do you distinguish between "actual external deadline," "fake deadline I set to motivate myself," and "day when I put the task on my schedule to work on"? It's often the case for me that all three dates are different, and I've gotten myself in trouble before by forgetting one of the three, but most apps seem to only allow one due date. If this is a situation you find yourself in too, how do you handle it?

I use Todoist, if it's relevant, but I'd consider switching if another app handled this more gracefully.
posted by nebulawindphone to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is why I love Amazing Marvin. It has due dates (actual deadline), end dates ("fake" deadline), and scheduled dates (when I'm going to work on it).
posted by brook horse at 7:47 AM on February 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To-do list app users: How do you distinguish between "actual external deadline," "fake deadline I set to motivate myself," and "day when I put the task on my schedule to work on"?

It sounds like you need project schedules, not just a list. You might want to use a project manager like Asana.
posted by Miko at 8:00 AM on February 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

The simplest solution might be to start a new habit of including the real deadline in the task title &/or setting it as a recurring task.
"TPS Report (due 3/1)" scheduled weekly starting 2/14 until 3/1
posted by kochenta at 8:33 AM on February 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

This may or may not be helpful, but I try to eliminate the middle type from my workflow. Rather than having a motivational effect, I find those aspirational dates tend to get rescheduled *a lot* in the run up to the real deadline.

At a minimum, bumping fake dates throughout the week consumes time I could have spent actually getting something done.

I also find that rescheduling things so often forms a habit which eventually bleeds over to my real deadlines, causing me to become somewhat numb to them/increasing the odds that I’ll miss them.
posted by FallibleHuman at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: That's a fair point. I do at least need something with two kinds of dates you can assign — "real deadline" and "day when I've put it on my to-do list to check off" are the bare minimum for how I work. But I could probably do ok with just those two.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2020

I use Todoist.

Plan to do it: set the due date for then
Personal deadline: make a note in the todo text (do by X)
Need to do something further with it: make a note (post on X) with whatever I need to do.

Usually I work on it, duplicate the entry (so I can check off working on it) and then redate it to the day I need to make the further step as needed. The 'do by' notes are so that I know what the actual deadline is and don't keep postponing it. Having it all in the subject line makes it really easy to look at the dates and figure out what stuff is high priority.

(I'm a librarian, so I have a mix of 'must answer this promptly' and 'long term project with a hard deadline' and 'thing I'd like to get done, but no one including me is really attached to a particular date within the next 3-6 months')
posted by jenettsilver at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2020

Best answer: I have an older version of OmniFocus Pro and use "defer" and "due" dates. When a project hits its defer date, I get an alert that it's available. Not sure what the basic version has included, but pro gives me the option to filter by various criteria, including defer and due dates.

When it's time to focus on a project, I move it up into my doing-now folder, which ideally holds no more than what I will be working on in any particular week.

I use my calendar for appointments, events, etc. only.
posted by moira at 1:44 PM on February 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Honestly, I've yet to find an app that does this and ticks all my other boxes. But here are the ones I've found, here and elsewhere, that do it at all:
  • Marvin (thanks, brook horse)
  • Outlook tasks — like, the minimal task tracker feature that's built into the regular calendar and email program
  • The premium version of Ticktick
  • Asana (thanks, Miko)
  • OmniFocus (thanks, Moira)
  • Things

posted by nebulawindphone at 5:58 AM on February 18, 2020

« Older Bottle refusal, clinginess, oh boy   |   Does someone want old, functional computers to be... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.