Todoist is an old contender among to-do list managers, helping people corral their work into manageable tasks for almost a decade. It’s grown into a cross-platform tool that can be used for collaboration and project management, but was created simply because Amir Salihefendic needed a way to keep track of his work.
Amir is the CEO of Doist, the company he founded after Todoist evolved from a side-project to a full-time gig. He previously co-founded Plurk, a micro-blogging social network that remains popular in Asia, and now manages a decentralized team that collaborates on their work over 20 different countries.
You’ll never guess what app he uses as a to-do list these days. Here’s how Amir works.
Location: Santiago, Chile (visiting my wife’s family). Our home base is Barcelona, Spain.
Current Gig: Founder/CEO of Doist (not a gig, more a lifetime project)
One word that best describes how you work: Focused
Current mobile device: iPhone 6s and Google Pixel
Current computer: MacBook Pro from 2014
First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Bosnia, but due to the war in the 90’s I grew up as a refugee in Denmark.
During college, I had a lot of side projects, and one of them was Todoist. When I started Todoist in January of 2007, I had no perspective of what I was creating. It was a simple to-do list app that I created for myself to manage my own chaotic life.
Todoist has since grown from a small personal project to a service that has helped millions of people complete tens of millions of projects. To be honest, I never imagined that one day we would be the leader in our market and that it would evolve into a company with almost 50 people from around the world.
What apps, software, tools can’t you live without? Why?
I’ve probably used Todoist every single day since 2007. It’s my personal operating system where I have everything I need to do all in one place (both work related and personal things). I even have a name for it: Systemist 🙂 You can read more about my specific workflow here.
For communication with our remote team (we’re nearly 50 people in about 20 different countries) I use Twist, an app we’ve been working on for the last two years and just recently launched to the public.
Besides Todoist and Twist, I love iA Writer for writing and Vim for development. Vim is something I’ve spent a ton of time on — in fact, I have one of the most popular configurations (that I’ve spent years perfecting. I am unsure if this is a good or a bad thing ????
What’s your workspace setup like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Home office with a standing desk?
I have a wonderful home office with a standing desk where I work from during most of the week. Some days, though, I do go into a coworking space because I feel that being in your home for a lot of time can start to affect you negatively. When I work, I always use noise cancelling headphones, and I usually listen to electronic music.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
I would strongly recommend starting the day with a 7 minute workout, ten minutes of meditation, a cold shower and then a healthy breakfast. I’ve found that this combination is a great way to kickstart my body for the day. After this, once you sit down to work, I would recommend working on creative problems (e.g. writing, coding, designing) and not checking social networks or responding to emails right away.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
I’m not going to lie, it’s obviously Todoist ????
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Noise cancelling headphones — I use Bose QuietComfort 35. These are especially useful when you’re travelling or are in a noisy office or coworking space.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I am excellent at making eggs, that’s one of the only things I can cook that is delicious… The secret? I copied the recipe from Gordon Ramsay at some point, I think you can find it on YouTube.
What do you listen to while you work? Got a favourite playlist? Or do you prefer silence?
What are you currently reading? Or if you’re not reading anything, what’s something you’d recommend?
I do read a ton and always try to find ways to get a better perspective and to learn new things. One of the books that has most inspired me as a CEO/founder has been Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard.
How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
I usually play soccer to recharge, as it helps clear my mind and stops me from thinking. If I don’t play soccer, I enjoy watching a good movie or watching Korean Starcraft streams. (Starcraft is a passion I’ve had for many years.)
What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?
I am terrible at sleeping and have been most of my life. I do try to have some routine though — right now I go to bed at around 1AM and wake up at around 8AM. This is something I’m actively trying to improve as I’d love to get around eight hours of sleep per day.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s to love the work that you do. On average people spend 87,600 hours on their work in their lifetime… That’s over ten years! It’s critical to find something that is meaningful and that you really love doing.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
I would love to thank Lifehacker and the Lifehacker community. Todoist was covered on this site in 2007 and it brought thousands of users (many of whom still use Todoist!) Here’s the original article by the awesome Gina Trapani:
We’ve asked heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? [contact text=”Let us know.”]