April 2, 2021

From the Computer: TickTick To-Do App

We all have a lot going on in our lives. One app seeks to keep it all together.

From the Computer: TickTick To-Do App

Images courtesy of TickTick

If you've ever listened to me ramble on The Home Work Podcast, you've no doubt heard me talk about how I cannot help but try out new email apps and to-do apps when they're released. Though I've recently made Things by Cultured Code my daily driver when it comes to task tracking, I still like to see what else is out there and if it can fit into my existing workflow.

Enter TickTick, a funny name for a serious app.

First, unlike Things or OmniFocus, which are primarily Mac-based, TickTick works on almost everything--Mac, iOS, Apple Watch, Android, Windows, and the web. It has its own built-in sync system to keep your devices up to date, though I would have liked the option to sync with iCloud.

TickTick boasts a slew of features, some of which I'll highlight quickly right here:

  • Calendar sync: TickTick can import calendar events to give you a 360-degree view of your day.
    calendar-view
  • Habit tracker: keep track of goals, such as drinking eight glasses of water a day, or exercising three times a week, and set reminders for yourself.
    Habit
  • Pomodoro Timer and White Noise: a customizable Pomodoro timer is built-in so you can focus on one task for a specific length of time. Throw in a rain storm or forest sounds to really zone in on a project.
    Focus
  • Recurring Tasks: set up a task to repeat itself daily/weekly/monthly. Simply check it off and a new one will spawn for the next time it's due.
  • Subtasks and Markdown Formatting: Each task in TickTick can have subtasks inside it, basically turning any task into its own project. The fact that I can style everything using Markdown, too, is just icing on the cake.
  • Smart Lists and Tag Lists: TickTick can organize tasks using tags, which are automatically filed into smart lists, meaning I don't have to create a separate project and set up filtering rules. There are also Smart Lists for contexts, such as "Today" and "Assigned to Me" and I can create custom smart lists if I need to.
    Sidebar
  • Voice Entry and Email: Tasks can be entered using your phone's microphone, complete with smart date parsing (i.e. "Lunch at noon today" will create a task called "Lunch" and schedule its due date for 12:00 pm today). If you'd rather convert your recent emails into tasks instead, you can forward them to a special email address that will automatically add them as tasks in TickTick.
  • Browser Extensions: Install on Safari, Chrome, or Firefox and add any webpage to TickTick as a task.

To say TickTick is packed with features would be an understatement. There are also custom themes, a kanban view, keyboard shortcuts, and templates to make the app look and feel like it was made just for you.

Issues

Of course, with the good must come the not-so-good as well. I've run into a weird bug lately where a word in a task that also contains part of a day of the week will cause that task to be rescheduled for that particular day. For example, if my task is "Cook salmon for dinner," TickTick will pick up on the "mon" in "salmon" and schedule that task for next Monday.

I'm also not a fan of how the Inbox, which in most to-do apps is meant for untagged tasks that need to be filed, shows everything. I thought in such a customizable app that there would be a way to hide tagged tasks, but there doesn't seem to be. I hope this is changed in a future update.

Collaboration

One way in which TickTick is different from other apps is in its collaboration tools. While not as robust as, say, Asana, it offers spouses/roommates/small teams/etc the ability to assign tasks and share lists. It also tracks changes to tasks and who made them.

Larger teams and companies will probably need a more comprehensive service for their project management needs, but this is fine for smaller projects and groups.

Conclusion

TickTick has the look and feel of a consumer task list app, but the ambition of a professional project management platform. It's been designed to do a lot, as evidenced by the numerous features and customizations. In fact, it sometimes feels like it's trying to be two or three different apps all wrapped into one.

iPad-Lists---Today

There's some OmniFocus, a little Fantastical, a dash of Things, a pinch of Dark Noise, and a smattering of Todoist in how it tries to gamify productivity. I do worry that this many features can lead to bloat. There's also the chance that squeezing so much in means some features will be buggy or less functional than those found in separate, equivalent independent apps.

However, TickTick is quite a feat in its current state and I'm excited to see how it progresses. I still haven't found the perfect task app for me, but Things got pretty close. In some ways, TickTick has gotten closer. I'll just have to keep using both and see what sticks.

TickTick is free to download, but the Premium plan, which unlocks a host of additional features and themes, costs $27.99 a year.