Internet Self Improvement

How To Set Up The Ultimate Todoist Filters In 5 Minutes

Angela Randall 06-11-2014

So, you entered all your tasks into Todoist, but the process of working through them is somewhat haphazard. That’s because you probably don’t have great filters.


That’s going to change. Today.

Todoist is a powerful to-do list system which runs on most operating systems and browsers, making it extremely versatile for everyone.

Many people find Todoist is greatly enhanced by upgrading to Todoist Pro How Much More Productive Is ToDoist Premium? Here Are 6 Good Reasons To Upgrade I kept using ToDoist for free for a while. But kept coming up against things I wanted to do and couldn't. Email reminders. Adding notes to task. Things that would really add a whole lot... Read More (which is a pretty cheap upgrade of around $30 per year), as it lets you do all sorts of extra things that make life better. You can even combine Todoist superbly with IFTTT Automate Your Life and Job With Todoist and IFTTT Play creatively with ToDoist's notification features, and IFTTT's ability to accomplish really cool automations with them. We show you how combining the two powers your productivity. Read More .

Many of the following tips will rely on having pro access, but there will be concepts and tricks that apply to everyone. In fact, these ideas could be useful to anyone using any to-do list system, if that system supports the same filtering functions.

Filter With Projects

A very recent addition to the Todoist features is the ability to include projects in your filters. This means you can now search for all the overdue items in one specific project, which is a truly excellent filter to make. Use the p:keyword notation in your filter, which will catch any project with that keyword in the name, plus all the sub-projects too.


So, to make sure all your important freelancing work gets done, create a filter for:

(over due, today) & (p1,p2) & p:Freelancing

Todoist‘s Labelling & GTD

The GTD system is fantastic if it works for you, but many others half-implement it alongside their other systems. Todoist‘s labels are an easy way to keep track of contexts, such as tasks that need to be done using Email, Phone, Computer, at the Office, or in some other location.

You can also use Todoist labels to note “Next Actions”, “Someday/Maybe” items, and items where you are “Waiting” for someone else. For your different projects, just use ToDoist’s projects. They’re perfect, especially now they can be filtered.


Filter for daytime-only tasks by using this filter:
@Post | @Phone | @Town

To catch all overdue tasks in important projects, filter for:
(over due, today) & (p:Bureaucracy | p:Errands | p:Freelancing )

Or to catch anything of importance in one hit, filter for:
p:Bureaucracy | p:Errands | p:Freelancing | @Post | @Phone | @Town | @Legal | p1

Obviously, this involves your labeling tasks in a similar fashion as mine, but I’m sure you get the idea. The concept behind the search is the most important bit, here.


Stephen Covey’s Quadrant System

By default, Todoist lets you see tasks by priority, but that’s not as useful as Stephen Covey’s quadrant system, which lets you focus on relevant tasks according to their importance and urgency.

Try setting up these four searches.

Quadrant 1 – Important & Urgent: (over due, today) & (p1,p2)
Quadrant 2 – Important & Not Urgent: (no date) & (p1,p2)
Quadrant 3 – Not Important & Urgent: (over due, today) & (p3,p4)
Quadrant 4 – Not Important & Not Urgent: (no date) & (p3,p4)

ToDoist Covey Quadrant


Energy Level Labels

Another neat way of labeling your tasks is to note how much energy it will require to do them.

Personally, I like to tackle the mentally exhausting tasks early in the day and move on to easier tasks later in the day. So I label the ones I can do with low energy levels as Afternoon and Evening tasks accordingly. Everything else is presumed to be high energy, but let’s say I label them with Morning. I’m sure you’ll choose relevant labels to suit your energy levels. This system works really well for recurring tasks.

The filters you’d use with this system are as follows.

High Energy: (over due, 4 days) & @Morning
Medium Energy: (over due, 4 days) & @Afternoon
Low Energy: (over due, 4 days) & @Evening

I’m sure you could add in priorities and projects in there, but it could get a bit too much. When it comes to filters, having a handful of powerful ones is actually far better than too many.

Colour-Coding Your Filters

You can easily change the colour of your filters by clicking “Edit” and then the drip icon to the left. It makes sense to change the colours to match the projects they most relate to, and to keep some colours for separate organisation systems or VIP filters.

Bookmark Your Best Todoist Filter

Bookmark your most useful filter, as there’s not much point clicking through to your filters each and every time you access Todoist. Have your default bookmark take you straight to the right one.

Search Todoist From Your Omnibar

Sometimes it makes sense to just use search for the tasks you need. Most browsers will let you set up custom searches for certain sites, so it makes sense to set up one for Todoist. Here’s how to do it in Chrome.

ToDoist Search

Go to Settings > Search > Manage Search Engines and add the following URL with a name and a keyword to initiate your searches. I’ve used “todo” so I can type “todo email” and instantly get all of my tasks with the word “email” in them. Handy!

ToDoist Search In Action

How Do You Manage Your Tasks?

Are you a GTD fan or do you use Stephen Covey’s quadrant system? Do you mix and match or use an alternate organising system The 5 Commandments for Choosing the Right To-Do App for Productivity Different people organize in different ways. So choosing a to-do app really depends on what kind of person you are. Here are five commandments you can think about for your own productivity system. Read More entirely for your tasks? Tell us about your best task filters!

Related topics: GTD, To-Do List.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tim Malone
    September 10, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Note that some of these filters might need updating. 'over due' now appears to be 'overdue', and 'or' is expressed as a pipe (|) rather than a comma. Thanks for the excellent article!

  2. Philip Owen
    January 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Another way of organising work is Shortest Immediate Operation. This is a solution to the Two Machine Problem. You do the shortest tasks first. In order to keep other members of the team downstream from you busy. So I label my tasks Less Than an Hour, Up to 2 Hours and Over Two Hours.

  3. kerry
    June 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I've been using Todoist for a couple of years now, and the ability to add custom filters had somehow bypassed me. Fantastic! Thanks for this post.

  4. thanks, but
    June 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Hey, nice Post! Thank you.

    But i have to mention two points:

    FIRST: Commas

    Commas don't work anymore
    (over due, 4 days) ...

    write this instead
    (over due | 4 days) ...

    SECOND: Stephen Covey's Quadrant System

    You missed all Tasks with a due date of tomorrow or later. So Q2 and Q4 need to be edited. The Quadrants should look like these:

    Quadrant 1 – Important & Urgent: (over due | today) & (p1 | p2)
    Quadrant 2 – Important & Not Urgent: ( ( !today & 100 days ) | no date) & (p1 | p2)
    Quadrant 3 – Not Important & Urgent: (over due | today) & (p3 | p4)
    Quadrant 4 – Not Important & Not Urgent: ((!today & 100 days ) | no date) & (p3 | p4)

    • chris
      October 5, 2016 at 12:23 am

      Thank you for this insightful comment. I've been looking for examples of filters and labels being used together where they actually show the code and don't just describe it. I;m still new to this and am finding tons of articles but no actual filter examples. Do you know of any?


  5. Silv
    January 31, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Nevermind, I just figured out that the deadlines need to be implemented!

  6. Silv
    January 31, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Great article, thanks!

    Re the Quadrant. Instead of creating filters unnecessarily, wouldn't it make more sense to simply use p1 as the first Quadrant, p2 as the second, and so on..?

  7. Angela Alcorn
    December 30, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Don't try to add too many projects. Also make sure there's a space before any end brackets. Hope this helps!

  8. Juergen
    December 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I just implemented Stephen Covey’s Quadrant System - it sheds a new light on my tasks. Thank you!

    • Angela Alcorn
      December 30, 2014 at 4:27 am

      It's brilliant, isn't it? Every since I stumbled on it years ago I've wondered how I got on without it.

  9. sflomenb
    December 29, 2014 at 2:38 am

    I am trying to use the filter you mentioned for projects but it's not working.

  10. Saikat Basu
    November 10, 2014 at 3:22 am

    One of the secrets for managing your to-do list is "Energy". That tip helps. And all that's required now is to GET more energy. Whether that comes from waking up early, eating a hearty breakfast, or anything else!

    • Angela Alcorn
      December 30, 2014 at 4:28 am

      So true. How I wish for unlimited energy!

  11. firstclass
    November 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    I use Laverna on my own host to make my to do list. I can use it on any device. You can find it on github.