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Tasks

Our lists are the place for all your tasks and to-dos – they remember everything that needs to be done, freeing up your mental space to focus on other things.

Lunatask comes with a unique way of prioritizing your tasks. Additionally, there are built-in battle-tested productivity techniques, such as Must/Should/Want method, Eisenhower matrix, work-in-progress limit, and others to keep you organized and productive. Timers are also here to help you get started with the task at hand.

When you open Lunatask for the first time, you might be surprised by the missing ability to drag tasks manually around to move them up or down. This is because lists in Lunatask automatically sort your tasks, so the list is always prioritized. We do this by calculating urgency for each of your tasks.

There are many workflows and ways to nudge the algorithm to let it know what is important to you. Take a moment to learn how this works, as it might not be intuitive at first.

One of our users said about this:

My initial impressions of it were that it was very frustrating ("This is stupid! Why can't I drag tasks!"), but then, once the concept behind it clicked, it was a real a-ha moment – most apps are designed with neurotypical users in mind, which is not really something that was obvious to me until I tried Lunatask.

Why reinvent a to-do list?

As human beings, we often struggle with prioritization. Let's face it, we avoid difficult tasks, and we may not always follow through on tasks that we have already started.

Unfortunately, to-do apps often do not provide the necessary tools to effectively address these issues, leaving users to rely on their own strategies which can lead to a sense of failure. We believe a to-do app should guide you, so no task is left behind.

Methodology

We built our lists around the idea that there’s a constant stream of incoming small tasks that ideally need to be done as soon as possible. That also means the same number of similarly sized tasks from earlier must be checked off – you would be piling tasks in front of you otherwise.

While new tasks arrive at the bottom of the list, one is checking off older tasks on the top. The "first-in, first-out" approach maximizes throughput without you going insane because of the amount of tasks thrown your way.

You can tell Lunatask which tasks are important to you by changing their priority. You also pick which tasks are for now and which for later. This is how our Simple workflow works. There are also other workflows, like Must/Should/Want method.

Different workflows

A workflow is a specific productivity technique you pick per each of your task lists and it affects mainly how your tasks are grouped together. There are a few workflows to choose from:

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You can switch between workflows freely — not like in other apps where after changing the structure of the task list, you cannot easily get back to the original state. The section where the task belongs in the current workflow is always calculated from its properties — no information is lost when switching between workflows.

In Simple workflow or Kanban workflow, you pick your next tasks by changing their status to Next.

Regardless of what workflow you pick for each list, there will always be at least two visually separated groups of tasks — your backlog of candidates to work on (usually called Later) and your next tasks.

Usually, you will have only a handful of tasks planned to work on next, and you will periodically review your later tasks. It is okay if you have a lot of tasks there.

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In all workflows, you move tasks between sections in the list by updating their properties like status or motivation.

Prioritization

Unlike other to-do apps, Lunatask automatically prioritized tasks for you. In this section, we will delve more deeply into how this works.

What is urgency?

The urgency is a set of rules like these that govern the order of tasks in the list. You can think of urgency as a score given to each task – the higher the score, the more urgent the task is, and the higher it appears in the list.

  • Tasks marked as Started have a higher urgency than tasks in Next to nudge you to finish what you already started before taking on new work
  • Waiting tasks are not actionable, hence they have a low urgency (lower than tasks in Next, but usually higher than tasks in Later)
  • Higher priority usually means higher urgency as well (but not always, see nuanced usage section below)
  • Using the priority, you can nudge the algorithm so it knows what is important to you

If a new task should be done before an older one, it means it has a higher priority. Assign a higher priority to the new task to make it appear higher in the list. This can be done using the priority picker in the task detail, using the right-click context menu, or via Shift+Arrow Up keyboard shortcut.

If two tasks have the same properties like status, motivation, Eisenhower value, priority, or estimate, the older one is always considered more urgent, causing new tasks to appear at the bottom of the list while bubbling up as they get older.

See our dedicated articles for how it works in detail in each workflow.

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The task with the highest urgency will be highlighted in bold in the list as the next task to work on. This can be disabled in the settings.

So, you replaced the manual ordering of tasks with 5 priorities?

Yes, that's the simple way to say it. When you start manually dragging tasks around, you usually lose the sense of how old the task is. Using priorities, you have a way of saying that a certain task is more important than another while still allowing for more things to be taken into account (like their age or status).

Is this perfect?

Of course, this gets in a way sometimes. However, people tend to, for example, avoid complex tasks and procrastinate on easy ones while the challenging tasks get stuck for several days (we were indeed guilty of that in the past). So while the algorithm might not be perfect at prioritizing tasks, humans (and especially those with ADHD) are sometimes not much better.

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Fortunately, the urgency calculation is just a recommendation. You can always get the tasks done in any order you like. Lunatask will just make sure to push tasks to a more prominent place higher in the list as they get older or are left unfinished to remind you of them, so no task is left behind.

Scheduling

Lunatask supports both date-based and time-based scheduling. When the task is happening in the future, in a few days or next month, you can schedule it for that day or the day before using date-based scheduling. When the date comes, you can plan it into your day using time-based scheduling.

So, date-based scheduling is useful for tasks happening later in the future, and time-based scheduling is for today's tasks. See our dedicated articles describing each method for more detail.

Nuanced priority usage (advanced)

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If you are just starting out with Lunatask, feel free to skip this section.

Higher priority does not always mean the task should always be done before other tasks with lower priority.

Imagine a case when you have only one Started task in the list. Now, a new more important task is added to Next. Assigning the highest priority will now make the task in Next more urgent than the task in Started, hence it appears on top of the list in Now/Later grouping (used by simple workflow), and it will be highlighted as the next task to work on.

Assigning the priority of High to the task in Next won't have the same effect. You can use the priority of High to sort your next tasks to work on after you finish the work you already started.

Similarly, this can be applied to Low and Lowest priorities. Assigning a lower priority to a task in Started means putting it on hold for a while.

See the table below for the exact order of rules in groupings based on task status (higher in the list means more urgent).

StatusPriority
DueHighest
StartedHighest
NextHighest
DueHigh
DueNormal
StartedHigh
StartedNormal
NextHigh
NextNormal
DueLow
StartedLow
NextLow
DueLowest
StartedLowest
NextLowest
WaitingHighest
WaitingHigh
WaitingNormal
LaterHighest
LaterHigh
LaterNormal
WaitingLow
WaitingLowest
LaterLow
LaterLowest

And here for By motivation grouping:

MotivationPriority
DueHighest
MustHighest
ShouldHighest
WantHighest
DueHigh
DueNormal
MustHigh
MustNormal
ShouldHigh
ShouldNormal
WantHigh
WantNormal
DueLow
MustLow
ShouldLow
WantLow
DueLowest
MustLowest
ShouldLowest
WantLowest
UnknownHighest
UnknownHigh
UnknownNormal
UnknownLow
UnknownLowest