The Ultimate Guide To Todoist Recurring Tasks and Sub-tasks

Never forget important tasks again, learn how to make Todoist tasks and sub-tasks recur easily using these simple steps with natural language. This page is the ultimate guide to Todoist recurring tasks and sub-tasks, it's the only one you'll ever need so be sure to bookmark it, then you’ll always have the scheduling instructions you need to hand.


Here's a handy table of contents for this info-packed recurring task guide

  1. What is a recurring task?

  2. How to set Todoist recurring tasks

  3. What instructions can you shorten?

  4. Lists of Todoist task recurrence instructions

  5. Things to note before checking out any of the lists or examples on this page

  6. Ultimate List: Todoist recurring task due dates

  7. How to specify a start and end date for Todoist recurring tasks

  8. Ultimate List: Start and end dates for Todoist recurring tasks

  9. Start Dates

  10. End Dates

  11. Using recurrence start and end dates together

  12. How to make Todoist recurring tasks with sub-tasks

  13. Setting sub-task due dates the same as the parent task

  14. Setting different sub-task due dates to the parent task

  15. Setting a recurring parent task with no date incompletable sub-tasks

  16. Other things you need to know about Todoist recurring tasks

  17. How to stop Todoist natural language using a date in the task title

  18. What other date formats can be used in Todoist?

  19. How to use the @ symbol in Todoist

  20. Does Todoist recognise leap years when scheduling tasks for 29th February?

  21. What does the '!' do in recurrence scheduling?

  22. Using natural language with integrations and other devices

  23. It's easy to use starting the wrong way

  24. What other natural language dates can you use if not recurring?

  25. What thing you not do when scheduling a recurrence in Todoist

  26. Every day except

  27. The day and the repetition format exclusions

  28. Putting the date digits at the start of the scheduled instruction

  29. Combination of dos and donts

  30. Recognising national holidays

  31. Todoist recurrence ideas you could use to help you get organised

  32. Conclusion

Not only am I going to show you how to set up recurring tasks and sub-tasks in Todoist and all the different instructional language you can use, but I'll also give you examples of how you can use recurrences to reach new organisational heights.


Ready? Let's do it!


This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase through one of the links. Thank you for your support.


1. What is a recurring task in Todoist?

Do you have tasks that happen more than once in set intervals? Perhaps it's a task to download bank statements each month or feed the cats every day at 7:00am and 3:00pm, or maybe shop for a Valentine's card on the 10th February every year? If you have tasks like these, they are recurring tasks.


Fact: Why recurring and not reoccurring? Recurring is usually repeated at set intervals; Reoccurring is also repeated but not always at intervals.


A recurring task in Todoist means to have a task that once checked off as 'complete', resets itself as a new task for the next scheduled date and time. A recurring task saves you the effort of re-adding tasks and the worry of forgetting to reschedule.


Before we get into how recurring tasks and sub-tasks work together, let's cover the essentials of recurrence scheduling:


2. How to set Todoist recurring tasks

Using what's commonly referred to as Natural Language, you can instruct Todoist to repeat tasks by typing in the task's title box in regular or quick-add view, or in the scheduler box.


Fact: Natural Language in Todoist is what it says on the tin, a natural way to speak/type that Todoist can recognise and use as instructions.


For example, if you set a task and type every 1st Tuesday of the month, Todoist will know to schedule it repeatedly on the 1st Tuesday of every month from that day forward.


3. What recurring instructions can you shorten?


You can use natural language in long or short format to instruct Todoist of your required recurrence. For example, the same instruction above could be written as ev 1st Tue of the month, shortening every to ev and Tuesday to Tue, or go even shorter to just ev 1 Tue and Todoist will understand clever stuff!

Take a look at what other instructions you can shorten to save you typing time.


Change Every to ev

Change pm or am to p or a

Change 4pm to 16 (same applies to any time)

Change 2nd to 2 (same applies to any date or number repetition)

Change Monday to Mon (same applies to any day)

Change March to Mar (same applies to any month, but note this shorter month name doesn't work with all start and end date instructions, more on this later)

Change starting to start

Change ending to end

Change today to tod

Change tomorrow to tom


Fact: If you naturally write a sentence that includes repeat every day, Todoist will also scoop up the word 'repeat' as part of your instruction. Not that you need to write repeat when you are already using every or ev of course. You can also choose to omit 'on', 'in' and 'at' in most instructions and Todoist will still understand.


4. Lists of Todoist task recurrence instructions


Things to note before checking out any of the lists and examples on this page:

  • There are variable numbers/words in the list below that you can swap-in to fit your required recurrence, these include the specific day, date, time or number.

  • I have used the long format of every, day, time, month, and date, however, you can use the short versions (see the section above).

  • In the lists I have capitalised the first letter of each instruction and the days, you can use all lower or upper case letters, or a combination of both, and Todoist will still recognise your instruction.

  • I have not omitted 'of' 'on' and 'at' in the lists below. You could remove these words and get the same result.

  • There are a number of other date and time instructions (listed later in this article) that use Todoist's natural language but cannot be used for recurring tasks.

  • Workdays and the start of the weekend I have assumed to be Monday to Friday and Saturday respectively in my examples. You can change these assumptions in your Todoist settings.

Fact: Your recurring instruction can also specify a start and end date, but before we get into that, let's take a look at the list below of recurrence instructions which are based on task due dates.

5. Ultimate List: Todoist recurring task due dates


Every Hour

Every hour starting from now


Every 8pm

Every day at 8pm

Every day @ 1800

Every day @ 18:00

Every 20:00

Every day at 2000

Every day at 20:00

Every @ 2000

Every @ 20:00

Every day at 8pm


Every morning

Every day at 9am


Every afternoon

Every day at 12pm


Every evening

Every day at 7pm


Every weekday

Every workday

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday


Every weekend

Every Saturday


Every day

Daily

Every day starting today


Every other day

Every other day starting today


Every Tuesday

Every Tuesday


Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Every Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

(separated with any combo of ',' & 'and')


Every week

Weekly

Every week starting today


Every other week

Every other week starting today


Every month

Every month starting today


Every other month

Every other month starting today


Monthly

Every month starting today


Every quarter

Quarterly

Every 3 months starting today


Every year

Every year starting today


Every other year

Every other year starting today


Every new year day

Every new years day

Every 1st January


Every new year eve

Every new years eve

Every 31st December


Every Valentine

Every Valentines

Every Valentine Day

Every Valentines Day

Every 14th February


Every Halloween

Every 31st October


Every 6 hours

Every 6 hours starting now


Every Wednesday at 6pm

Every Wednesday at 18:00

Every Wednesday @ 6pm

Every Wednesday @ 1800

Every Wednesday @ 18:00

6pm every Wednesday

18:00 every Wednesday

Every Wednesday at 6pm


Every 2 days

Every 2 days starting today


Every 3 weeks

Every 3 weeks starting today


Every 4 months

Every 4 months starting today


Every 10 years

Every 10 years starting today


Every 2nd Wednesday of the month

Every 2nd Wednesday

Every 2nd Wednesday of each month


Every 15th

15th of every month

Every 15th of each month


Every 21st, 1st, 10th

Every 21st and 1st and 10th

Every 21st, 1st and 10th

Every 21st , 1st , and 10th of the month

(separated with any combo of ',' & 'and')


Every 20th of January

Every 20th January


Every 21st February, 1st April, 10th July

Every 21st February and 1st April and 10th July

Every 21st February, 1st April and 10th July

Every 21st February, 1st April, and 10th July

(separated with any combo of ',' & 'and', max 8)


Every last day

Every last day of the month

Every last day of the month


Every last Tuesday

Every last Tuesday of the month

Every last Tuesday of the month


Every mid March

Every 15th March (or 15th of March)


Every end of the month

Every end of month

Every last day

Every last day of each month


Every last Wednesday

Every last Wednesday of the month


Every first workday

Every first working day of the month (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu or Fri)


Every last workday

Every last working day of the month (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu or Fri)


After 3 days

Starting today then the task repeats every 3 days. So if I set it on a Saturday, it will recur Tuesday. NOTE: The task cannot be checked off as completed until the next date of the recurrence.

6. How to specify a start and end date for Todoist recurring tasks


The start and end dates relate exclusively to when the repetitions begin and end, not to when a task should be started or the due date. For example, say you want to do Christmas shopping every Friday at 6pm throughout November you'd add something like:


Long format, Every Friday at 6pm starting on 1st November ending 30th November

Of course, you can use short instructions such as: ev fri 6p start nov 1 end nov 30


7. Ultimate List: Start and end dates for Todoist recurring tasks

This list includes natural language start and end date instructions that work for recurring tasks, there are start and end date instructions that work solely on non-recurring tasks too (listed later in this article).


I have put an example of a due date recurrence surrounded in brackets '( )' in the list below, you can use other recurrences from the above list to replace my examples in the brackets. The brackets ( ) in these examples are not to be typed as part of the instruction.


Start dates:


Below are variations of starting and from instructions


Tip: you can use them together as starting from, Todoist will still recognise that instruction, but you may as well just use one or the other to save typing time.


(Every day) starting Friday

Every day starting on Friday


(Every hour) starting Wednesday

Every hour starting on Wednesday at 12am


(Every hour) starting 8pm

(Every hour) starting 20:00

[Every hour) starting at 8pm

[Every hour) starting at 2000

[Every hour) starting at 20:00

Every hour starting from 8pm


(Every day) starting 27th September

Every day starting from 27th September


(Every day) starting May

Every day starting from 1st May


(Every day) starting tomorrow

Every day starting from tomorrow

(you wouldn't need to say every day starting from 'today', as 'every day' automatically starts a recurrence today)


(Every day) starting in 3 days

Every day starting in 3 days time (if it's a Sunday today, the task recurrence would start Wednesday)


(Every day) from Tuesday

Every day starting from Tuesday


(Every day) from 27th September

Every day starting from 27th September


(Every day) from May

Every day starting from 1st May


(Every day) from tomorrow

Every day starting from tomorrow

(you wouldn't need to say every day 'from today' for a today start, as 'every day' automatically starts a recurrence today)


End dates:


Fact: Todoist doesn't currently seem to support hourly recurrence end times using any of these: ending, end, until or to. I have put in a feature update request with Todoist, fingers crossed that issue gets fixed, as you can do so much with natural language it seems a shame to fall at a simple hurdle, although nothing can put me off Todoist, I'm a super fan!


(Every day) until Friday

Every day, the last day of recurrence is Friday


(Every day) until 27th September

Every day, the last day of recurrence is 27th September


(Every day) until May

Every day, the last day of recurrence is 1st May


(Every day) until tomorrow

Today and tomorrow


(Every day) ending Friday

Every day, the last day of recurrence is Friday


(Every day) ending 27th September

Every day, the last day of recurrence is 27th September


(Every day) ending May

Every day, the last day of recurrence is 1st May


(Every day) ending tomorrow

Today and tomorrow


(Every day) ending in 3 days

Every day ending in 3 days time (if it's a Sunday today, the task recurrence would end Wednesday)


(Every day) for 3 days

Every day starting today PLUS 3 days (so 4 tasks) (if it's a Sunday today, the task recurrence would end and include Wednesday)


(Every week) for 2 weeks

Every week starting today PLUS 2 weeks (so 3 tasks) (if it's a Sunday 14th today, the task recurrence repeats on 21st and 28th, ending on 28th occurrence)


Fact: Any date length, including months and years, can be used in the same way as the three examples just above.


Using recurrence start and end dates together


You can use a combination of natural language instructions together, for example, you don't need to use starting and ending together, you could swap ending to until. Take a look at the examples below.

You can also use to as a joiner the between the start and end dates in a full sentence format such as:


[Every day] from 1st June to 8th June

Every day from the1st of June to the 8th of June


8. How to make Todoist recurring tasks with sub-tasks


I love a sub-task! Sub-tasks break down the big daunting tasks into manageable portions, but how should you attack setting recurrences for sub-tasks? I'm going to show you 3 possible ways so you can pick the best one to suit you.


Here are the 3 options for choosing due dates in recurring sub-tasks:

  1. Setting sub-task due dates the same as the parent task

  2. Setting different sub-task due dates to the parent task

  3. Setting a recurring parent task with no-date, incompletable sub-tasks

The first thing to note is the natural language is the same for sub-tasks as it is for parent tasks, so no need to learn anything new, phew!


Let's look in more detail at the 3 options above...


1. Setting sub-task due dates the same as the parent task


Let's say the parent task is housework and your sub-tasks are kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, and you want these to recur every Friday. If you set the recurring due date on the parent and sub-tasks the same, every Friday, all 4 tasks will show up in Friday's task list.


With this format, you can check off each completed sub-task as you do it, then check off the parent task when you're sitting down with your cup of tea and all sub-tasks complete. Is this the most efficient way to schedule sub-tasks? There's some duplication upon checking off the last sub-task and the parent task.


My best advice to make the sub-tasks 'feel' more separated from the parent task, is to change the priority levels. For instance, the parent task could be a P1 (top priority) and your sub-tasks P4's (lowest priority), then order your view by priority level, you'll see the parent task near the top and then the sub-tasks at the bottom.


Tip 1: I would use double Asterix '**' (Or double exclamation '!!') before and after the parent task title so it appears in Bold and stands out as 'the big one' to check off.

Tip 2: You could also use a single Asterisk '*' on either side of an additional word like 'sub-task' preceding your task title, to make the word stand out in italics and help to indicate that it's not a parent task (see example below).

2. Setting different sub-task due dates to the parent task

This would be my preferred option for my weekly workout task. The parent task being weekly workout with 3 sub-tasks for the actual activities: dance classes every Monday, spin x 30 mins every Wednesday, and walk x 30 mins every Saturday. I would set the recurrence for the weekly workout parent task to every Sunday.


With this option, each task or sub-task appears in a different day, the day I need to complete it. At the end of the week, I get the satisfaction of checking off my weekly workout as done!


3. Setting a recurring parent task with no-date, incompletable sub-tasks

Let's use the same example of the weekly workout tasks above, but this time making the sub-tasks incompletable.


To make a task incompletable you'll need to type an * then leave a space and write the sub-task title. There's no need to type a recurrence for the sub-task as incompletable tasks attach themselves to the parent task's recurrence dates. You could set the sub-task recurrence dates, but then you'd end up with a similar outcome as option 2.


You won't be able to check off the sub-tasks as they are incompletable and the circle to check them as 'done' is not there, this does mean that the full list will be visible when you click the weekly workout parent task regardless of what day of the week it is. Think of this option more as a list of notes.


9. Other things you need to know about Todoist recurring tasks


How to stop Todoist natural language using a date in the task title


Sometimes a task title needs to mention words or dates that are the same as used in natural scheduling language, for example in a task I want to do every day titled: chase director for a reply to my 1st June email., Todoist will automatically highlight 1st June as the due date. To stop that connection, simply tap on the highlighted date and Todoist will stop highlighting, allowing you to add your scheduling instruction on the end: every day

Other ways you can stop smart date recognition:

  1. Type your date within these brackets [ ]. For example: [every Saturday]

  2. Hit backspace after typing the instruction

Of course, you could select no date from the scheduler, or even type no date or no due date in the task title, but that will mean there's no due date at all attached to the task. If you'd prefer, you could turn off Smart Date Recognition all together by going to your account settings in the general tab.


What other date formats can be used in Todoist?


Throughout this article, we've used full format dates such as 1st of January, 1st January and short versions including 1st Jan,1 January and even 1 Jan. Here are some more date formats:


1/1/21

1/1/2021

01/01/21

01/01/2021


How to use the @ symbol in Todoist

The @ symbol has two purposes, dependant on if you put a space after it or not. If you use @ with no space any labels you have set up will pop up awaiting your selection as @ is the shortcut for label selection.


However, if you use a space after the @ symbol it then changes the meaning of its use to 'at', so you can use it in a time recurrence like every day @ 2pm.

Does Todoist recognise leap years when scheduling tasks for 29th February?


Good news, tasks scheduled for the 28th February won't get lost every 3 or 4 years, Todoist reschedules those automatically to the 1st of March, phew. However, if you're looking to schedule a task for the end of February you should use the language end of Feb (or February) instead.


What does the '!' do in recurrence scheduling?


By adding an ! after the word every the recurrence date changes from the due date to the completion date.


An example would be a task to change the water filter every 6 weeks. If you said: change the water filter every 6 weeks and today's date is 1st Jan, your first occurrence would be today 1st Jan.


If you completed the filter change today (1st Jan) then the next recurrence would be the 12th of Feb. That's fine as your filter is due a change. But let's say you don't do it today and you leave it 3 weeks before completing the task (22nd Jan). The change the water filter task will still recur on 12th Feb, 3 weeks after you completed it, but your filter has not run out yet, right?


By adding an ! after every change the water filter every! 6 weeks, Todoist will know to recur 6 weeks after you complete the task, so if you completed on the 22nd Jan instead of today, the recurrence would be on 5th March.


Using natural language with integrations and other devices

Do you use Siri, Alexa or Google Home? Good news, these voice assistants can all recognise Todoist's natural language and schedule tasks for you accordingly. You can say for example "Alexa, record new Netflix series tomorrow at 9pm", you can even do the same on your Apple Watch, and I believe Android watches too.


However do note, if you're using an Alexa skill for example or an IFTTT recipe to achieve this integration, you won't be able to set recurring tasks, just singular scheduled ones.


It's easy to use the word starting the wrong way


This is something I've mistakenly done a few times so I'm giving you the heads up so you don't make the same mistake. Every day starting at 9 am will not set you a recurring task every day with a due date time of 9am, even though this language is a natural way to describe a task.


Instead, it will recur your task every day with no set time, the recurrence will start from 9am. If it's 8am then this task will be in today's task list with not due time, only due date, if it's 11am your task will be in tomorrow's task list in the same way.


So the language starting is taken as a recurrence starting point, not the actual due time of the task.


What other natural language dates can you use if not recurring?


Here are some examples in long format scheduling instructions Todoist recognises, that are not used in recurrence instructions (short versions will work too) .


Tomorrow morning

Tomorrow afternoon

Tomorrow evening

tomorrow night

Tomorrow at 9am, 12pm, 7pm and 10pm respectively


In 1 hour / in

In 6 days

In 10 weeks

In March

In 2 months

in 3 years

Due in 1 hour, 6 days, 10 weeks, 1st March, 2 months and 3 years from today respectively


1 hour before 7pm

2 days before Sunday

3 weeks before 1st January

1 month before November

Due at 6pm, Friday, 11th December and 1st October respectively


1 hour after 7pm

2 days after Sunday

3 weeks after 1st January

1 month after November

Due at 8pm, Tuesday, 22nd January and 1st December respectively


+3 days

+4 weeks

+5 months

+6 years

Due in 3 days, 4 weeks, 5 months and 6 years respectively


10. What things can you not do when scheduling a recurrence in Todoist


Every day except


Sadly you have to enter all the days you want a recurrence to repeat, as the term every day except is not recognised in Todoist. If you want a task to repeat for 6 days of a week you need to type all 6 days separated by a ',' or and.


Tip: You could shorten a 6-day repeat using a phrase like every weekday and Saturday if missing the Sunday fits your schedule.


The day and the repetition format exclusions


There are a small number of formats of instructions that are not recognised here's an example; to set a task every Monday, you need to use language like every Monday, every Mon, ev Monday, ev Mon or on Mondays, you cannot use Monday every week or every week Monday (or short versions of either).


Putting the date digits at the start of the scheduled instruction


There seems to be a bug when scheduling a recurring task starting with the date digits. Todoist highlights the instruction as if it's recognised it, but actually, the recurrence doesn't work. Let's say you want to add a cleaning task to recur on the 20th of every month, if you write cleaning 20th of every month, this won't actually recur.


Instead, write cleaning every month on the 20th for the recurrence to work. You can of course use other shorter variations of the phrase as long as it starts with a version of every. For example, ev month on 20.


Have no fear though, the bug issue has been raised with Todoist, so cross fingers they'll fix it.


Combinations: do's and dont's


It's best to note which parts of the instruction are about the due date and which parts are indicating the recurrence start and end dates, as longer combinations require you to separate them to help Todoist understand. Here's an example:


Do:

Use the following language for homework (example) task repeating every weekday in March at 6pm (this example is in long format):

Homework every weekday at 6pm starting 1st March ending 31st March

Notice how up to 6pm is where the recurrence due date instruction ends and starting 1st March to the end of the instruction indicates when the recurrence is active.


Don't:

Use the following language for homework (example) task repeating every weekday in March at 6pm (this example is in long format):

Homework 6pm every weekday in March

Todoist recognises 6pm every weekday as a recurring due date, but in March as a singular date of the 1st March and therefore can not schedule the active dates required.


Recognising national holidays


Leap Years: Todoist doesn't recognise the instruction every leap year, but that's ok there's an easy workaround simply recur every 4 years.


Memorial Day: Todoist does recognise memorial day (USA) as the first Monday of May every year. As you know from the sections above Todoist also recognises new years day, new year's eve and Valentine's. Sadly that's where the holiday recognition stops. Of course, there's normally another way to overcome the lack of holiday language. Here are some examples of when you can add holidays as recurring tasks and when you can't:


UK Remembrance Sunday: Always the 2nd Sunday in November so every 2nd Sunday in November works.


UK Mother's day: 3 weeks before Easter Sunday, Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the full moon, usually on or after 21st March, however, this differs each year so this date cannot recur exactly. Tip: How would I overcome this? I'd have a recurring task on the 1st of January each year to Google the national holidays and add them all to Todoist.


Anyway, enough of the negatives, there aren't that many so let's not bring the mood down.


11. Todoist Recurrence ideas you could use to help you get organised


We all work differently so recurring tasks will be useful to users in different ways, here's some that I use or ones I think are great as a little inspiration:

  • Pay taxes every quarter

  • Update CV every 6 months

  • Keep on top of weekly cleaning chores

  • Weekly workout plan and track progress

  • Get the kid's school supplies each term every 1st Jan, 1st Apr and 1st Sep

  • Schedule staff appraisals every 2 years

  • Schedule car service and insurance renewal yearly

  • Birthday reminders every year

  • Goal setting and tasks to achieve those goals every day, every week, every month

12. Conclusion


Before Todoist, I used Microsoft OneNote as a task manager and I'd often find myself lost in pages of long lists of tasks with no scheduling structure. Since moving to Todoist Premium, I am in my organisational element and my productivity has increased at least 2-fold.


Being able to use natural language in so many varying ways to schedule tasks is yet another solidifying reason why I love Todoist, my other top two reasons being its label and filter features.


Bonus Tip: You can use the same natural language you use for due dates with reminders!


Admittingly there is the odd action you can't do with Todoist recurrences as listed in this article, but for me, none of them are essential functions and I don't feel they hinder the app's awesomeness!


I hope this article has been a great help to you in learning about using recurrences in tasks and sub-tasks in Todoist. Again, please do bookmark the page so you can use it as a reference for future scheduling questions and feel free to share with other Todoist fans.


Jenny - Author, Tried and Loved

P.S. Feel free to subscribe to the Tried and Loved weekly newsletter (see footer) so you catch new Todoist posts as they get published and many other helpful guides for you and your business.

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Jenny

Bater-Sinclair

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