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Todoist. Toggl. Google Calendar.

I want to introduce you all to each other

Over the last few months I've been really concious of how I've arranged my day and executed my todo's. Each evening (or the morning if I couldn't get to it in the evening), I'll list down all the tasks I have to do. I have a very specific format that I use on Todoist to organise all my projects and tasks. I basically don't let any projects go beyond two levels. So it's Big project->Sub Project->Tasks. To make this more visual, it looks like this:

|Big Project 1
 |<task 1>
 |<task 2>
 |Subproject A
  |<task 1 for subproject A>
   |<sub task 1 for task 1>
   |<sub task 2 for task 1>
  |<task 2 for subproject A>
 |Subproject B
  |<tasks for subproject B>
|Big Project 2
-->Same structure follow here.
-->Any number of Sub projects may come under Big Project
-->There are no sub sub projects. Only Sub tasks
-->There are NO sub sub tasks
-->Tasks without a sub project DO NOT have sub tasks

Each day in the evening I review these tasks and map out what I want to get done for the day. I try not to plan too much into the future. It's a battle that can only be lost in the long term.

I then take the tasks that I've planned for the day and try to time box it into the 8 hours I have for working for the day. I put these into Google Calendar. For Google Calendar, I maintain a taxonomy using the following mappings:

  • Big Project = Calendar
  • Any tasks = Time entry
  • I don't store any details about related sub projects. It's irrelevant. All I care about is identifying how my day is going to be arranged.

And then I track them using Toggl. The way I like to arrange this in Toggl is to maintain the taxonomy using the following mappings:

  • Big projects = Clients
  • Sub projects = Projects under Clients
  • Tasks under sub projects = Tasks under Projects Under Clients
  • Sub tasks under Tasks under Sub Projects = Description of current time entry where time entry is tagged to a task under the Sub Project
  • A task that doesn't have a sub project it belongs to = Description of current time entry

This might seem confusing (it is at the start) but once you get around it, it's a really stress free way of organising things. Especially the idea of not having too many layers in Todoist means that organising and viewing tasks that are pending is really easy.

The problem though comes in data duplication. Planning, organising, and cutting tasks takes at least 15 minutes a day. Most days it takes me 20 minutes. Taking each of those tasks, and copying them over into Google calendar, and Toggl takes long enough (>15 minutes) that I can't manage to do it on somedays. And if I'm missing even a day, especially in tracking time, I've lost out on some really valuable data for the day. I may even lose out on coherence for the day.

It's one of those things. I'd possibly make better use of my time if I took a litle extra time each day to organise things. But that's only if the day goes the way I plan. To compound things, other stuff comes up. Always. My day has to constantly fluidly change to handle things like support requests, calls, helping out with something at home (to be clear, I consider this a privilege, not a problem), or most often, just having planned something inaccurately.

It's at these moments where I really can't afford to go back to the system I'd like to have because the returns of taking time to move and add things to Toggl and Google Calendar aren't worth it.

Enter software.

What I want to do is build a tool that:

  • Takes the tasks that I put into Todoist
  • Automatically sync the data to Toggl
  • Lets me set a quick estimation for them (in increments of 10 minutes)
  • Drop them into Google Calendar (not through the Google calendar interface though)
  • Allows me to start a timer for a given task from Toggl

I've gone through avaialble tools including Toggl's browser add on and while some of them solve some of the problems, nothing supports this flow reasonably well. Which is natural. I'm not complaining :D.

This is a non trivial tool though. I'd really need to think hard about how I want to go about creating this in such a way that I don't lose motivation before it becomes usable, and more importantly quick enough that the returns on it are obvious.

Todoist. Toggl. Google Calendar.
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