Reviews

IQTELL: A Somewhat Frustrating Way to Get Things Done

I’ve been using IQTELL for quite a while now, more than a year at this point, and I have good and bad things to say about it. It’s about time I write a proper review of this software. I was using it as a BETA user until they created paid subscriptions, and now I’ve been a Platinum level paid user for about a year.

Why Do I Use IQTELL?

  • It matches up well with the whole Getting Things Done (GTD) concept.
  • They have a web app as well as mobile apps, so I can use it on all my devices and everything is always synced.

IQTELL offers you the ability to collect all your inputs from email, Evernote and anything else you manually enter into the inbox/collectbox. You can then process all the stuff you collected into task lists and projects, and organize everything into to-do lists so you can get things done.

IQTELL Screenshot

I’m not going to go into the details of how the GTD system works right now, but it’s basically software that is built to handle that type of a system and workflow.

How Do I Use IQTELL?

Even since I read Getting Things Done by David Allen I’ve tried following the system with varying levels of intensity, eventually finding the right balance of how I like to work and how I like to process things and get things done.

IQTELL is my key to following the system right now. Here’s how I use it:

  • Tons of email – I have 10 email accounts plugged into IQTELL and process all my incoming email via IQTELL. I find the Android app to be the fastest way to get through email, since it has an EZ Inbox feature which allows me have one inbox for my most used email accounts. I briefly read all email, decide if I need to take action on anything, and either do it right away (if it only takes a couple minutes) or add the email to my CollectBox if I need to address something but can’t do it instantly.
  • Collect, collect and collect some more – I also use the CollectBox feature to manually enter stuff that I need to do or make note of. And I frequently add stuff to the CollectBox, many times a day. I’ll often use the Android app on my smartphone to add quick items to the CollectBox when I’m away from my computers. Adding stuff to the CollectBox needed to become a habit for me to make good use of this system.
  • The weekly review is sacred – Once a week I do a weekly review, usually on Mondays. During a weekly review I make sure I’m at inbox zero on all my email accounts, I review all the stuff I added to my CollectBox over the past week and organize it all into task lists. I also knock out the easy and quick tasks while I’m doing the weekly review. The weekly review can take 2-8 hours depending on how much stuff I have to process. I also review my general goals and areas of focus to make sure that my tasks are moving me towards those goals that are important to me.
  • Now I’m organized for the upcoming week – After the weekly review I will have reviewed every single thing that I collected over the last week and I now have everything organized into projects and tasks within IQTELL.
  • Time to focus on knocking out tasks – I then use task lists that are filtered by context to get things done throughout the week. I have contexts for work, home, errands, and other places I’m usually at during the week. Whenever I’m at one of those places, I review the tasks for each context and just get stuff done. For example, when I’m at home, I can easily look at my task list for “home” and see that I need to clean my aquarium, clean out the cat litter box, drop off rent or anything else that can be done while I’m at home. When I’m at work, I can load up my “work” task list and see what I need to get done while I’m there. This way of organizing my tasks really helps me stay focused and not get distracted by things that I can’t do because I’m not in the right context.
  • Still collecting – During the week, stuff keeps coming up and coming my way that I will need to address eventually. I add things to my CollectBox during the week and try to not get distracted by something new unless it is urgent and needs to be addressed right away. This way I can just dump ideas and tasks that come up out of my head and into my CollectBox, and stay focused on the tasks at hand that I had already planned out during the weekly review.

As you can see this is pretty much an ongoing, weekly cycle. The cycle never ends. If I don’t focus on getting tasks done after the weekly review, and get distracted by things that I should just be putting in my CollectBox to deal with later, that’s where things can fall apart for me, and that is where IQTELL helps a lot. I always have IQTELL on me, since I can access it on my Macbook, iPad, Galaxy S5 and my desktop PCs. And that is whey I rely on it to tell me what I need to get done all day, every day. That is why it is so important to focus on actually getting things done after the weekly review is complete.

The Positives

Here are the positive things that I have experienced while using IQTELL:

  • I can process all my email in one app and create tasks directly from an email.
  • I can use IQTELL on all my devices (Macbook, Windows PC’s, Android phone, iPad).
  • Auto-syncing between all devices and apps.
  • Easy to add things to the CollectBox from either email, Evernote, voice, or manually typing things in.
  • Follows the GTD system very well, and seems to be the best all-in-one option for GTD people.
  • IQTELL is very customizable with plenty of ways to organize and process your tasks into actionable lists – it’s often possible to tweak things to a point where it works best for your own style of use.
  • EZ Inbox is nice – you can have one inbox for several email account, but the limit is 5 accounts for this feature.
  • Macro processing features available in the email inboxes. For example, you can click one button to add an email to your CollectBox for processing later and then archive it all at once. Or you can click one button to link an email to an existing project and then archive it. Stuff like that. This can make processing email much more efficient.

The Negatives

Here are some things I would consider to be negatives while using IQTELL:

  • The EZ Inbox is only available on the Android and iOS apps – not on the web app.
  • The EZ Inbox can only be configured to handle 5 email accounts – this is too limiting for me.
  • Lots of random service issues and long down-times at really frustrating times (during busy workdays when I rely on IQTELL the most, or when I’m trying to power through a weekly review).
  • Slow support responses and less than satisfactory issue resolution.
  • IQTELL power-user features are very deep and can take time to figure out how to use properly. This could also be a positive as the power-user features and depth can come in handy when you are trying to configure something to work a certain way.
  • Macro processing in the EZ Inbox on the Android and iOS apps can be slow – slow enough that going through hundreds of emails can get really frustrating due to having to wait for the app for several seconds to process the action. It might not sound like much, but when you are going through lots of email this can really slow you up.
  • I’m paying for what feels like a BETA service.

The Frustrations

Unfortunately, the fact that IQTELL becomes such an important part of the GTD process is what ends up making it frustrating to use. I rely on it for my whole workflow process. And if IQTELL is having service issues my whole process ends up broken. This happens more often than I would like.

There has been times where IQTELL has had issues for an entire day, on a Monday, when I was trying to get a weekly review done, for example. There is nothing more frustrating than that. There have been issues with email delivery in the IQTELL app that has caused me to miss things that I should have been on top of right away. The Android App has had times where it couldn’t sync properly with the tasks and emails. There is often times where the web app gets glitchy (almost every day) and I need to refresh my browser or reload everything to get it working correctly again.

And the IQTELL support isn’t very quick to get on anything either, which can add to the frustration.

Let’s just say that this whole IQTELL system, for as useful as it is, is still pretty rough around the edges. I’m paying for a Premium account with IQTELL, but feel like I’m using a BETA product.

Better Options?

I don’t know if there are any better all-in-one software options out there for GTD people. I’ve used software called MyLifeOrganized (MLO) but it isn’t supported on all the platforms I use and when I last used it is required manual syncing between all devices, which was a huge pain. I haven’t really seen any other better options than IQTELL, but I’m definitely keeping an eye out.

It probably wouldn’t be hard to get me to switch to a different system if somebody could make something a little more polished and reliable than IQTELL.

Overall Conclusions

I have mixed feeling about IQTELL. I find it to be very useful in that it follows the GTD system in a way that work great for me, and it can be used on all my devices. On the flip side there are some frustrations that pop up from time to time that make me go out and look for better alternatives. I have a feeling that if something better came along I’d give it a real hard look, as I’m not completely sold on IQTELL. But I use it because it’s the best option now, at least that I have found, for GTD workflow software.

Try out IQTELL and see if it works for you

9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! I was impressed that you had actually used it at a Premium level for a year, rather than the typical reviewer who “tries it out” and throws out a review.

    I’ve made my way through almost all the GTD apps out there, and am looking at giving IQ Tell another try. First, I decided to read some reviews, and yours was the first. A good start to my research!

    Bruce Maples
    Louisville, KY
    (brucemaples.com; brucewriter.com)

    Reply
  2. Good morning,

    Thank you for your post, it was very useful for me. I’m investing my time again to find a way to have my things done. since the beginning I recurrently do this job to refresh my workflow. It comes from firsts MS Offices time until today, passthrough Evernote, GTD and Kanban concepts and others.

    I had a break during my MBA and I move from PC to Mac. However, after a while using imail I’m frustrated, it is time to move on again and find the right email/process client.

    When I fond IQtell I started to feel as you positive described in this post. I though, that this is the solution, although, your cons didn’t give the right confidence do go ahead.

    Can you tell me about your cons opinion after abril? Are your more confidence?

    Thank you.
    Best regards,
    Altino

    Reply
    1. Author

      I guess I wouldn’t say I have a lot more confidence, but I’ve just kind of gotten used to the weird glitchy stuff I run into with IQTELL. I seem to have to refresh my browser window a lot, otherwise things just don’t respond well to being clicked on or act oddly. Overall though, the software is still seeming to be the best multi-platform option for GTD, at least that I’ve run across. I think my frustrations are due to the fact that it’s little problems that happen during the most time-sensitive situations for me.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the thorough review which is very helpful. I too have been looking for an all in one GTD with emails, files, tasks, documents etc.
    Would have been great if they introduce a desktop version instead of having to work on the web from the pc!!

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the comprehensive review. I tried IQTell out about the same time you wrote the review and quit out of frustration from the same things you mentioned. I am now re-evaluating apps. I have recently retired and while some things have gotten easier, others have gotten more complicated. It’s time to get back on the GTD bandwagon again.

    I am looking at IQTell against a couple of easier apps, Nozbe and Zendo. I would really like to use IQTell but am wondering if they still have the frequrent service issues. I have found that their support is no more responsive than they used to be; perhaps less so.

    Reply
  5. I tried IQ Tell back when you wrote this – and found some of it frustrating as you mentioned. Several months ago I tried it again and was quite impressed. I signed up as a Premium user. Service support is good. Easy to use. A few minor things missing – eg. I like to add a pic to my e-sign. I don’t have a calendar associated with my biz domain so any invites that come to me I have to manually look at adding to my calendar.

    And EZ box is available on the mobile app. Lots of the frustrations you mention are no longer relevant.

    I recently tried gmail but frustrated with having to flip to a new web page to open calendar and I miss the ability to easily archive to actions or projects. No perfect system out there, so I may just need to live with the fact that I have to manually move the occasional appointment.

    Reply
    1. Author

      Thanks for the feedback, I might have to take a look at it again after hearing about the improvements. I’m really liking my combo of Google/Todoist right now it’s been working well for me, but I’m always tempted to experiment again from time to time.

      Reply
  6. I found your review very useful. I have tried to use IQTELL on more than one occassions because of “THE PROMISE” it has the potential to deliver on. You articulated very well things that I had in my mind but was unable to articulate as well as you did. Bottom line is I would love to love IQTELL because it holds so much potential, but it has to become more intuitive and yes, less buggy. I was also frightened a while back when they were about to shut down the company

    Reply
  7. I’ve been using it since release stopping only once they claimed to be shutting down. I didn’t come back right away because they had lost my trust. Overall, I think it is the best tool available. I previously had been a premium toodledo subscriber for like 5 years.

    Reply

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