You Need to Consider to Whom Something Is Important

Discerning whether something is important can be tricky.1 You can start with 3 questions:

  1. How much does something matter?
  2. For how long does something matter?
  3. In what context does something matter?

In addition to these questions, you also need to ask “For whom does something matter?”2 This question of for whom something matters contains two distinct senses.

Interest

The first is interest and highlights who benefits from whatever activity you’re considering.

It can be an odd thought to consider, but not everyone has the same level of claim on your involvement. The command to love your neighbor excludes no one. So, as a good (next door) neighbor, you might watch out for your neighbor’s children when you see them playing too close to a busy street. But you won’t invest in them in the same ways and to the same degree as you do your own children. (And your neighbor would have good grounds to find you a bit creepy if you tried.)

As Paul says, “Let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”3 The doing of good especially to one class of people doesn’t by any means imply that others are excluded. But it does direct specific attention to the priority of the claims that certain others have on benefitting from your doing good.

Paul considers this principle particularly as it applies in the Christian community. But it helpfully extends elsewhere too. You wouldn’t want to do good to a casual acquaintance in a way that means you’ll fail to do good to those who are closest to you.

So, the closer to the center someone is in your “circle of concern,” the more important an activity associated with that person will be.4

Agency

The second sense of the question “For whom does something matter?” has to do with agency. In this sense, the question highlights who performs the activity you’re considering.

In some cases, an activity might matter, so it’s important and needs to be addressed. But it might not matter that you’re the one who does it.

There might be an equally good outcome if the activity is addressed without your involvement. That might happen by someone else doing it (delegation) or by creating a system so that no one has to do it (automation).

In some cases, the outcome might even be better if you’re not involved because you’re not the best person to produce that outcome. Someone else might have more expertise, speed, bandwidth, or any number of other resources that will allow them to produce a better outcome than you could.

Or setting up a system that runs without input from anyone could do the same. Automated systems are excellent for ensuring consistency, since they circumvent human error. And they keep work from trading hands. It just moves off everyone’s plate altogether.

Consequently, the more something can be handled automatically or the more someone else is better able to handle it, the less important it is for you to be the one to do it.

Life’s too short for you to spend it on what’s not important for you to be doing. And discerning that isn’t about selfishness. It’s about personal responsibility and self-discipline.

It’s about intentionally devoting yourself to what you honestly believe is best because, in the end, the person you’ll have to give an account for is you.

Conclusion

It can feel a bit odd to reckon squarely with a difference in levels of different people’s claims on you or need for your involvement.

As Greg McKeown summarizes,

When we try to do it all and have it all, we find ourselves making trade-offs at the margins that we would never take on as our intentional strategy. When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people … will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important. We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.5

By all means, yes, you should extend to others the kindness of being of service to them. But both kindness and self-discipline are fruits of the same Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22–23).

And it’s sometimes necessary to exercise the discipline of incurring unpopularity with some in order to prioritize what matters to others as fully as they deserve.


  1. Header image provided by Jimmy Dean

  2. Particularly helpful in assembling this list have been David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin, 2003); Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013); Michael S. Hyatt, Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019); and Rory Vaden, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time (New York: Perigee, 2015). 

  3. Gal 6:10; my translation. 

  4. For helpful discussion of the relationships between a “circle of concern” and a “circle of influence,” see Covey, Habits, 88–100. 

  5. Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 16. 

3 Questions to Help You Know Whether Something Is Important

Deciding what gets priority can prove challenging.1

The Eisenhower Matrix is an incredibly useful tool to clarify your activities and basic responses to them.2

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantQuadrant 1
Characteristics: Urgent, Important
Response: Abbreviate
Quadrant 2
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Important
Response: Concentrate
Not ImportantQuadrant 3
Characteristics: Urgent, Not Important
Response: Separate
Quadrant 4
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Not Important
Response: Eliminate

Even so, urgent activities can easily squeeze out those that are important. That danger is particularly acute because importance can be more difficult to ascertain than urgency.

So, the two can easily be confused by a kind of mental substitution. When asking the harder question “What’s most important?” it’s tempting to substitute the easier question “What’s pressing on me the most?”3

But pressure is more a signal of urgency than importance. Thus, the question of criteria becomes particularly acute when considering whether an activity is important and, if so, to what degree.

Criteria for Importance

Although there’s no mathematical formula for determining importance, you can ask four questions to help clarify whether something fits the bill.4

I’ll discuss the first three below. The fourth requires more comment, so I’ll address that one separately.

How Much Does Something Matter?

This question correlates with importance probably most directly and clearly. So, it’s probably also the least helpful (since its most likely to be most synonymous).

But it’s still worth asking explicitly. Sometimes, simply asking the question can start helping you realize that whatever you’re considering actually does (or doesn’t) matter all that much. You can then rate its importance accordingly.

For How Long Does Something Matter?

When considering urgency, you’re interested in when something matters, specifically how soon it matters. Importance is also concerned with time, but things that are important often matter for longer.

For instance, you might feel that it matters to be current with the news. But if you are current, you’ll have to get current again tomorrow.

By contrast, when you invest your time in durable relationships or projects, those can matter for a great deal longer than nearer-term aims. So, you should tend to weigh those things that matter for longer as more important and vice versa.

In What Context Does Something Matter?

Not infrequently, a given activity might appear to matter a great deal in one context. But if you reframe the context—especially by taking a bigger-picture perspective—you might find that it matters less or not at all.

For instance, if you’re invited to a meeting, you might earn a kind of good will by going, even if you have nothing particular to contribute. But if you’re in the meeting, you won’t be working on a research project that will have a much longer-term significance.

So, that wider perspective would lead you to weight working on your research as more important than warming a chair in a conference room.

Conclusion

Ultimately, importance is weightier than urgency. But amid the loud clamor and heavy pressure from the urgent, it can be hard to tell what’s actually important.

To start discerning, ask how much, for how long, and in what context something matters. You’ll still have to integrate and evaluate the answers. But you’ll have ready at hand some of the key building blocks for determining whether something is important and, if so, to what degree.


  1. Header image provided by Oliver Roos

  2. On this matrix, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 159–64. 

  3. This kind of substitution is copiously documented in Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011). 

  4. Cf. David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin, 2003), 48. In deriving the questions I discuss below, I’ve particularly benefitted from Allen, Things; Covey, Habits; Michael S. Hyatt, Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019); and Rory Vaden, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time (New York: Perigee, 2015). 

How Do You Know When Something Is Urgent?

Deciding what gets priority can be tricky.1 But the Eisenhower Matrix is an incredibly useful tool to clarify your activities and basic responses to them.2

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantQuadrant 1
Characteristics: Urgent, Important
Response: Abbreviate
Quadrant 2
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Important
Response: Concentrate
Not ImportantQuadrant 3
Characteristics: Urgent, Not Important
Response: Separate
Quadrant 4
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Not Important
Response: Eliminate

Without clarity about what makes something urgent or important, urgency can readily masquerade as importance. When it does so, Quadrants 1 and 3 can easily drown out Quadrant 2.

Clearly, any criteria for identifying the urgency or importance of your commitments can’t yield consistent results mechanically and automatically.3

But they can make the process less ambiguous. In doing so, they can help free you from the “tyranny of the urgent” that subordinates all questions of importance under itself.4

Criteria for Urgency

Between the urgency and importance, it’s much easier to identify urgency. Urgency focuses on the question: When does something matter?

The sooner something matters, the greater its urgency. The greater the urgency, the more whatever situation will press upon you socially, emotionally, cognitively, or otherwise.

That pressure occurs on a sliding scale. That pressure might rise to a level where you notice it making you disconcerted. If so, the cause of that pressure has moved from “not urgent” to “urgent.”

The reverse is also true. You might have a commitment you do need to complete. But that commitment might slides down the pressure scale to a point where you’re comfortable with it. In that case, it’s moved from “urgent” to “not urgent.”

Of course, there are degrees of urgency, just as there are of importance. For example, a heart attack has greater urgency (and importance) than a cavity. But the basic transition from “not urgent” to “urgent” comes when something starts demanding your attention, however softly or loudly.

Conclusion

At this stage, it can be helpful to probe whether the urgency dissipates if you reframe an activity.

Perhaps there’s an emotional or social push to complete something as soon as possible. But you might recognize that there won’t be any discernable negative consequences until much later.

If the urgency remains for whatever reason, you’ll have a Quadrant 1 or 3 activity. But if it dissipates, then you have a Quadrant 2 or 4 activity.

If the urgency dissipates and doesn’t leave importance behind (Quadrant 4), you can simply eliminate the activity.

Or if the urgency dissipates but importance remains (Quadrant 2), you can concentrate on that commitment at the appropriate time(s). And you can avoid being harried over how quickly you’ll complete it.


  1. Header image provided by Oliver Roos

  2. On this matrix, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 159–64. 

  3. Cf. David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin, 2003), 48. 

  4. Particularly helpful in assembling this list have been Allen, Things; Covey, Habits; Michael S. Hyatt, Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019); and Rory Vaden, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time (New York: Perigee, 2015). 

You Need to Decide What Gets Priority, but How?

Identifying when you’ll do your research begins with identifying when you won’t.1

The time you set aside for other life priorities—e.g., your family, your job, your church—then provides a frame for the time you can structure to make progress on your research.

But all of this begs the question of how you decide what gets priority in the first place.

The Eisenhower Matrix

A common way of explaining how you should decide what gets priority is by citing a decision rubric attributed to Dwight Eisenhower. Portrayed as a two-by-two grid, the “Eisenhower Matrix” groups activities on continuums of urgency and importance.2

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantQuadrant 1
Characteristics: Urgent, Important
Quadrant 2
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Important
Not ImportantQuadrant 3
Characteristics: Urgent, Not Important
Quadrant 4
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Not Important

On this scheme, it becomes clear that you want to spend as much time as possible as possible higher up the grid and farther to the right (i.e., Quadrant 2).3

No one likes to be perpetually investing in things that fall into either “not important” category (Quadrants 3–4). But Quadrant 1 (both urgent and important) also tends to be a less than ideal place to work.

It’s not always the case, but many urgent things could have been handled in ways that would have prevented them from becoming urgent in the first place.

You need to address Quadrant 1 items. But Quadrant 1 often involves crisis management and “putting out fires.” So, the more you work in Quadrant 1, the more likely you’ll be to experience stress and burnout.

Over time, you should be able to move what might be Quadrant 1 items into Quadrant 2 because of how you get out ahead of the urgency that characterizes Quadrant 1.

A Response for Each Quadrant

With these principles in mind, it’s possible to identify a characteristic response to activities that fall in each quadrant.4

UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantQuadrant 1
Characteristics: Urgent, Important
Response: Abbreviate
Quadrant 2
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Important
Response: Concentrate
Not ImportantQuadrant 3
Characteristics: Urgent, Not Important
Response: Separate
Quadrant 4
Characteristics: Not Urgent, Not Important
Response: Eliminate

For Quadrant

  1. Work over time to abbreviate how many activities fall into this category.
  2. Concentrate your attention on the activities that fall into this category.
  3. Separate yourself from activities in this category, whether by automating them or—if it’s an option—delegating them.
  4. Eliminate from your life as much as possible activities that fall into this category.

Conclusion

All of this is very well and good, but if the discussion stops there, a key element is missing. That is, simply saying that you should minimize Quadrants 3 and 4 and focus on moving Quadrant 1 into Quadrant 2 doesn’t immediately provide any help with deciding what falls in each quadrant to begin with.

What makes something urgent or not urgent? What makes it important or not important?

In short, helpful as the Eisenhower Matrix is, discussions of it often leave the criteria for deciding what creates urgency or importance mostly implicit. But with some careful thought about those criteria, it becomes much easier to decide what falls where.


  1. Header image provided by Oliver Roos

  2. See especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013). 

  3. On this point, see Covey, Habits, 159–64. 

  4. Also helpful but with somewhat less nuance than I’ve tried to create below is the discussion by Taylor Pipes, “Work Effectively with the Eisenhower Matrix,” Evernote Blog, 2 May 2017. 

Your Research Is Important, but It’s Not All-Important

You might have a great idea for your next research project.1 That idea might be based on a question that’s clearly compelling to your audience—or one that you’re willing to make compelling.

But if you never make time for your research, your idea will go nowhere and help no one. The question is: When can you work on it? As Stephen Covey observes,

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.2

And the process of scheduling your research priorities starts with planning when not to work on your project.

When Not to Do Your Research

It might be counter-intuitive to start assessing when you can do your research by considering when you won’t.

But as important as your research is, it’s easy to forget that other things are more important. So, when you’re “schedul[ing] your priorities,” some things take precedence.

To take a personal example, while I was writing my dissertation, there were a lot of long days between that project and the jobs I had at the time. During that time, we also had our first child.

Between work and school, there wasn’t a lot of “family time.” But, largely to my wife’s credit, we made it a priority for me to at least be the one to put our daughter down to bed.

In a way, it would have been very easy to invest that time in the dissertation or other work. But I’m so grateful we didn’t let that happen. Instead, we set a firm boundary that school and work demands weren’t allowed to cross.

That’s just a small example. And arguably, it would have done me even more good to have even stronger boundaries around other times wasn’t allowed to happen.

The Value of Boundaries

As Cal Newport calls it, “fixed-schedule productivity” improves your productivity when you are working on a project because it commits you to clear boundaries for when that work can happen.3

The project’s deadline is coming. If you’re going to get it done on time, you don’t have infinite sway before the deadline to push everything else in life to the side. So, you had better make the most of the time you have to work on it.

The point is that you’re a whole person. And as a whole person, some things are more important than your research. Both you and those closest to you should expect that to be the case.

Very often, the things that are more important aren’t the one’s that are most urgent at the time. They’re not the meetings, requests, emails, and deadlines that so easily fill the day. But they’re the things that, at the end, you’ll want to be sure you’ve deeply invested yourself in.

A Cautionary Tale

A powerful negative example is George Ladd, as recounted by John D’Elia.4 As much good as Ladd’s scholarship did, he didn’t contextualize that scholarship in the frame of other things in life that should have taken priority over it—not least, his family.

Not only didn’t he keep his research in perspective, according to D’Elia’s picture, Ladd seems to have actively prioritized his research over things that, in principle, ought to have been more important.

Ladd might not have intended that to be the case, but that’s the problem. According to the “commonplace” cited by Northcote Parkinson, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”5 So, when there aren’t clear boundaries around work, it tends to expand until that’s all there’s time for.

Conclusion

So, yes, it’s important to identify clearly when you’ll do your research. But that process has to begin with deciding what’s more important than your research.

Doing so will fix the boundaries within which you can then get creative about how you structure your work—without reversing priorities and sacrificing to your research something that should take priority over it.


  1. Header image provided by STIL

  2. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 170. 

  3. Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (New York: Grand Central, 2016). 

  4. John A. D’Elia, A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). 

  5. Parkinson’s Law,” Economist, 19 November 1955. This principle is sometimes called “Parkinson’s Law.” But Parkinson’s Law, as Parkinson explains it, is not so much about the expansion of work to fill the time available for it as it is about the multiplication of administrative officials within a system. 

How Todoist Can Support Your Work and Life

There are a myriad of productivity tools available.1 Each has its own distinctives and claims to being better than its peers.

Ultimately, all of them need some kind of method in their use to really be helpful. And you should choose whatever methods and tools work for you.

After all, you got into biblical studies because you were interested in the biblical text. You didn’t get into biblical studies because your key interest lay in productivity tools and methods.

Tools and methods are only means to an end, and you should treat them as such. But because they are means, they can support for your progress toward the goals you’re trying to reach.

For me for the past few years, this has largely involved Todoist used broadly according to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology.2

You might already have a different system that works well for you. If so, that’s great. Keep it going!

As Stephen Covey puts it,

Your planning tool should be your servant, never your master. Since it has to work for you, it should be tailored to your style, your needs, your particular ways.3

So, if you don’t have a solid system or you’re tired of fighting with the one you have, there are 8 reasons Todoist might be the tool for you. In particular, Todoist has

  1. Enough flexibility and simplicity to handle work, school, and personal material,
  2. A feature-full free version,
  3. Labels,
  4. Filters,
  5. Flexible scheduling options for recurring tasks,
  6. Integrations with Gmail,
  7. Integrations with Google Calendar, and
  8. A cost-effective Pro version.

1. Enough flexibility and simplicity to handle work, school, and personal material

The more systems you have the more questions you have about where something might be. Then, the whole bundle of systems becomes more complex and time consuming. And it’s costs start to outweigh its benefits.

So when you’re deciding on how to manage your commitments, it helps to condense everything as simply as possible into as few places as possible.

You can probably think of a time when you forgot something like “Get bread at the grocery store.” Then you had to make a second trip. While on that second trip to the store, you lost time to use to “Write the literature review.”

Or maybe “Get bread” wasn’t it. Maybe it was “Rotate the tires.” You missed that repeatedly and then got to spend time replacing tires instead of preparing for class.

Or maybe you didn’t have a complete inventory of your school obligations. So you got “surprised” by a deadline you actually knew about much earlier.

You then had to cram it in last minute. As a result, you ended up being less present with your family or missing an opportunity to serve someone else.

Because we’re whole people, our personal and academic lives are deeply intertwined. What affects one affects the other.

So if you can remove clutter, complexity, and confusion in either sphere, you’ll be doing a favor for the other as well. Todoist can help you accomplish this.

2. A feature-full free version

Like many apps, Todoist is available on a “freemium” basis. You get certain features for free just by signing up. Other features you get when you become a “pro” subscriber.

The free version of Todoist allows however many installations you want on your different devices.4 It also allows up to 5 current projects, file attachments up to 5 megabytes, up to 3 saved searches (or “filters”), labels, wide flexibility in scheduling recurring tasks, Google Calendar integration, and some helpful Gmail integration (more on these last three below).

In the past, Todoist held certain features (e.g., labels) back to distinguish the free and paid plans. But the free plan now includes just about all the features the “Pro” plan does (reminders being the main exception).

This change puts the main difference between the free and Pro plans in terms of quantity. A key example may be how the Pro plan allows for up to 300 active projects, but the free plan only allows up to 5.

Though, on the free plan, you can still create 20 “sections” inside each project, which alone gives you up to 100 different buckets to sort your commitments into.5 And for a sense of scale, I have under 40 active projects and could probably even stand to condense them some.

All of this means that Todoist’s free version gives you a very wide range of features just for signing up. So, if you don’t already use Todoist, you should definitely dip your toe in with the free version to see first-hand how Todoist might work for you.

3. Labels

In Todoist, each task goes in exactly one project. But each task can have multiple labels.

So labels can be a good way of pulling together different kinds of similar work across their various projects.

For instance, I use a Todoist label as a way of keeping a “waiting for” list. These things I need to not forget but can’t act on again yet. I’m waiting for something from someone else (e.g., in an email reply) to be able to take a next action.6

So I have an “@Waiting_for” label in Todoist that I apply to these items. This allows me to review them regularly, see what has or hasn’t come in, and follow up where needed.

More importantly, this label helps me ensure I don’t drop the ball on something just because I forgot about that commitment while I was waiting for something I needed to continue working to complete it.

4. Filters

In Todoist, a “filter” is essentially a saved search. Filters allow you to pull together custom lists of tasks with different criteria.

You can structure filters however you like. But as an example, I have an @Home label that I add to personal things I need to do when I’m away from the office.

With that label, I can then use the not operator (!) in the filter today & [email protected] to give me a comprehensive list of everything I need to do on a given day before I leave the office (i.e., when I’m not at home).

Todoist’s free plan limits you to 3 filters. But you can still search Todoist in more than three combinations (not unlike how you can add multiple sections inside each of the free plan’s maximum of 5 projects).7

For instance, if you have an @Home label that you use like I do, you can search Todoist with the query today & [email protected]. Once you run the search, you’ll see everything that’s due today and doesn’t have the @Home label.

You can then bookmark that page in your browser. Or you can copy and paste the URL (which should be something like https://todoist.com/app/search/today%20%26%20!%40Home) into a comment in Todoist.

The workflow’s not as smooth as using the built-in filter feature, but it can gets the job done.

5. Flexible scheduling options for recurring tasks

This one might be a bit geeky. But there are several things I want to do remind myself to do on a certain day of the week in a month.

It’s curiously hard, however, to find task managers that will give you the proper dates for things that occur on a specific day of the week but a different date in a given month.

For instance, you might want to

  • Check the car’s tire pressure every month on the second Saturday. Or
  • Every first Friday in November, communicate about my plans for the annual SBL meeting.

Besides Todoist, there are definitely other solutions that allow you to do this. But I’ve been surprised how few there are.

For me, it’s an important one to have to minimize the need to regularly reschedule things manually that come up on the wrong day.

6. Integrations with Gmail

Gmail includes a “snooze” feature that can be immensely helpful when you want to get a message out of your inbox for now but bring it back at a later time.8

Taking this functionality one level farther, Todoist integrates with Gmail in two ways.9 The first is a Gmail extension (Chrome, Edge) that allows you to add a Gmail message to any Todoist project. There’s also a Google Workspace Add-on that works in other browsers and mobile devices (except iPad).

Using either extension, Todoist can create a task that will link you directly back to the relevant Gmail conversation.

In addition, Todoist now also allows you to forward messages from any email client and have them attached to a particular Todoist task or project, even if you’re on the free plan.10

Each of these features can be a helpful way of stacking the deck so your email will return you the most benefit for the least amount of effort spent managing it.

7. Integrations with Google Calendar

Google of course has its own Tasks and Reminders features that integrate with Calendar. But these are pretty limited and so for me haven’t proven as useful as Todoist.

So it’s nice that Todoist also integrates with Google Calendar so that you can see your calendar and Todoist tasks all in one place.11 (Again, simpler and fewer places to look is better.)

For instance, Google Calendar integration makes it easier to see the time blocks I’m dedicating to certain specific tasks.

Having a time slot set aside for “research” is good. But it’s also easy to assign more to a time block like that than you can really accomplish.

Putting specific tasks on your calendar might help you see better where you’re inadvertently doing this.

Depending on how you set it up, the Google Calendar integration can also help you keep a running log of what you’ve done. That way, you can occasionally look back and see whether you invested too much or too little time in various activities.

8. A cost-effective Pro version

If you want the additional features behind Todoist’s subscription wall, current pricing for Todoist Pro is $36 per year, or $4 per month (US). This means Todoist Pro is quite cost effective by comparison with the subscription plans of similar tools.

For instance, reminders aren’t available on Todoist’s free plan. But I’ve started to find them increasingly helpful to surface things at particular times—even if those things don’t exactly need to be done at those times.12

If you decide to try Todoist Pro and sign up through this link, you’ll get a free two-month trial of Todoist premium.

Again, if a free or already-fully-paid-for solution works well for you, that’s great. But next to that, Todoist’s comparatively low annual subscription rate is definitely a plus.

Conclusion

However you manage your commitments, you need to use the tools and processes that work for you.

One of the standout features in the “Pro Tips” series is just how simple are the systems of some of the most productive biblical scholars.

You don’t need anything fancy. And you definitely don’t need something just because it’s a shiny app that has gotten great reviews.

You just need a system that helps you keep up with your commitments and then gets out of your way.

If you’re still searching for what this may be for you, definitely consider giving Todoist a try. Sign up is free, as is the “Pro” feature set for the first two months.


  1. Header image provided by TechCrunch

  2. David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, rev. ed. (New York: Penguin, 2015). 

  3. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 170. 

  4. Here and below, I’m primarily digesting the content of “Pricing,” Todoist, n.d. 

  5. What’s Included in the New Free Plan?,” Todoist, n.d. 

  6. For further discussion, see Allen, Getting Things Done, 153–54. 

  7. For details about searching Todoist, see “Introduction to: Filters,” Todoist, n.d. 

  8. Snooze Emails until Later,” Gmail Help, n.d. 

  9. Use Gmail with Todoist,” Todoist, n.d. 

  10. The New Free Plan.” At the time that I’m writing this, the main related help article still shows email forwarding as reserved for Pro and Business plan customers, “Forwarding Emails to Todoist,” Todoist, n.d. But that page will doubtless get updated in due course. 

  11. Use Google Calendar with Todoist,” Todoist, n.d. For information on Todoist’s more limited “feed” integration for Google and other calendar providers, see “Use Todoist with Your Calendar,” Todoist, n.d. 

  12. Though, as with much else, the free plan gives you what you need to assemble similar functions yourself. For instance, with reminders, you could use something like Google Calendar to prompt you about items in Todoist.