AI and To-Do Lists Are Just About the Perfect Match

Putting the 'done' in 'getting things done'

  • Todoist just added an AI assistant to its to-do list app.
  • Email and to-dos might be the perfect place for AI assistance. 
  • Yes, it might even end up answering all your emails for you. 


Imagine a to-do list app that could write emails and make shopping lists for you.

AI is not just for error-riddled homework cheating or making deep-fake photographs. It can also be deployed in much more mundane and possibly way more useful tasks. Like taking care of your to-do list, for example. Todoist's new AI assistant is just that, and if we can trust it, it might be just about the best office tool since the boss key

"AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we manage our tasks and time. I would trust an AI-powered to-do app to draft emails and make appointments as long as it's been trained well and understands the context of my tasks. The key is to have AI that is adaptable and learns from user feedback with a human in the loop when it is unsure," Chris Lu, co-founder of AI startup, told Lifewire via email."

On Task


Todoist is one of the task-manager heavyweights, a popular app for most platforms. The new AI assistant doesn't yet complete your tasks for you, but it does offer to take over the kind of to-do list futzing that wastes a lot of time. 

For example, give it a task you want to accomplish, and it will generate a list of bite-sized actions you can work through. This is the heart of the popular Getting Things Done (or GTD) methodology, which holds that small "next actions" are the way to power through a bigger project. "Plan Vacation" is an overwhelming non-task, whereas a bunch of actions like "look at map" and "google flight prices," are tasks you can knock off without thinking and—crucially—without procrastination. 

You can also ask the assistant to further break down tasks or to make your existing tasks "more actionable." This essentially generates a new name for the task, one which might better appeal to your inner sense of actually getting stuff done. 

As it stands, Todoist's AI integration is pretty conservative. It's a helpful start and not a revolution in task management. But the implementation runs on open AI's GPT-3, so theoretically, it could already do a whole lot more. 

Sci-Fi AI

Hologram of an artificial intelligence robot showing up behind binary code.

Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

The dream, of course, is to have an AI like Tony Stark's Jarvis, an intelligent assistant that can understand requests and get on and do them. Basically, we want every sci-fi computer—apart from 2001's HAL 9000, I guess. 

And AI could totally manage this if correctly trained. For example, how about it reads your incoming emails and processes them for you? And soon, it might reply to the emails that need it. 

"Beyond drafting emails and scheduling, AI could also help prioritize tasks, suggest relevant resources, and even provide insights into our work habits. This would ultimately save time and allow us to focus on more important tasks rather than getting bogged down in administrative work," says Lu. "We've already deployed an AI agent [that] researches a potential prospect, then drafts an email for us."

A highly advanced AI-powered to-do app would undoubtedly save time by automating routine tasks and streamlining processes.

After a while, you might trust it to send them too. And if they were marked as AI-generated, you could avoid too much embarrassment when it screws up and tells your boss that you love them, but you have decided that it's best for both of you if you end it now.

"A highly advanced AI-powered to-do app would undoubtedly save time by automating routine tasks and streamlining processes," Teresha Aird here, co-founder and CMO at, told Lifewire via email. "However, I believe it's going to still be essential to maintain a balance between AI-driven efficiency and human oversight, at least for the foreseeable future."

The AI training set doesn't have to be the entirety of the internet, either. It could be your email archive. If you trained an AI assistant on your own historical responses and then gave it access to your contacts and work documents, it could probably do a pretty good job of pretending to be you. You'd never have to draft an email reply ever again. 

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