Using the Todoist API to set a due date on the Alexa integration to-do list (with Apps Script)

Todoist Alexa Fix

I love almost everything about Todoist. It's rich enough to scratch all my productivity itches while also being basic enough that I don't spend time gardening my tasks. Also, their Android app is just gorgeous, the exact opposite of Google's ascetic descent into identical lists of black in Material Design.

The one problem is the Alexa integration. You can add tasks to your shopping list or your to do list. The shopping list works great for me. I check it once a week when I do my grocery shopping and everyone knows to just tell Alexa when they need something. The to-do list is a disaster. These go to a separate to-do list project without a due date and I will never ever find them there. Anything else I add will end up in the Inbox with a due date of today so I'm forced to classify and if necessary reschedule it. Which is exactly what I want.

When I say 'Alexa, add x to my to-do list' I want that task to be visible. This integration design flaw could lead to at least one child growing up in an unfamiliar part of town without parents, or worse.

I emailed Todoist and they politely declined to change the way the integration works. After a brief period of steaming I've rolled up my sleeves and fixed it with their API. Which doesn't use OAuth so now I love them even more.

The script is below. Create a new Apps Script project in Google Drive (New and then choose More to find this) and copy in the code. You can get the API token from the bottom of the Integrations section in Todoist settings. Then just click the clock in the Apps Script project and schedule checkForAlexaTasksWithNoDate() to run as often as you need. The script will check the Alexa To-do List project and if anything is in there without a due date it will set it to today to force you to deal with it.

More Google Apps Script Projects

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I Love Email

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021

HELO

Everyone is always trying to kill email, and it's always because it's a supposed productivity villain and life will be so much easier when we can all live happily in some chat based universe. I've spent enough time in Slack and Teams and their predecessors to know that we should go back before it's too late.

Chat brings you infinite inboxes and no great way to tell which of them is important. Having looked away for a few minutes there are dozens of unread conversations. Some of them are people sharing a photo of their cat. One of them is an emergency requiring immediate attention but good luck finding it without wading through everything.

This brings me to a lack of useful state. I handle email in two quick passes - read everything (and discard anything that doesn't need further attention), deal with anything critical and then at some point go back and mop up the rest. In chat though you just blew past something that needs a response eventually and it fades from your mind as you fight the fire elsewhere. I never miss an email, I often miss a chat.

And good luck finding anything. Maybe a market leader or two will establish dominance for long enough but my experience so far has been lurching from one platform to the next, both professionally and personally, and having a hard time finding that one thing I know should be in there from the end of last year. My Gmail has emails going back to 1996, and yes that's almost a decade before Gmail existed. I can find anything.

On the subject of dominance, the real reason for all of the attempted email homicide is that it's one of the last open systems that everyone still uses. If only email would just die you'll be trapped forever in Messenger and Hangouts.

[email protected]

(Related: Got It; Doing news right with Feedly and Google News; Twitter's API has got too painful for me)

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Out of Office Hours

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021

OOO

Inc has an article based on this blog suggesting that the solution to 'zoom fatigue' is reverse meetings.

I imagined that this was going to be a S03E01 of Red Dwarf type scenario where you get handed some notes and a few action items and then apologize for leaving early. But no, it's office hours.

""In a reverse meeting scenario, by contrast, I might take only 10 minutes from each colleague, taking up 50 minutes total of my time, and 50 minutes total of their time, for an overall demand of 100 minutes of attention, which is 3.6 times less cost," Newport writes. And voilà, he's just given your team back more than four hours of productive time a week."

Assuming that people manage to show up in perfect slots with no conflict and do so in a way that has perfect utilization for the victim and that there is no value in having someone point out that one of those 10 minute slots was full of incorrect information sending you down a two week rabbit hole that could have easily been avoided by having the right people spend some time together.

In a perfect world my ideal meeting situation is the meeting defragmenter. This involves software and cooperation unfortunately so the next best solution is out of office hours. I need focused time to get stuff done and blocking large chunks of meeting repelling time is really the only thing that works.

(Related: Meeting Defragmenter; Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review; I Love Email)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.

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