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Show HN: Chaoslist – A self-prioritizing todo-list (chaoslist.io)
83 points by ArdentZeal 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments

Cool stuff!

But, complete tangent: given the words "chaos" and "self-prioritizing" together in the headline, I was expecting something else.

Concept pitch: a to-do list manager with 1. generational garbage collection and 2. probabilistic LRU cache-eviction.

1. Generational GC: Tasks have a "re-evaluation deadline." Depending on the type of task (short-term, medium-term, long-term) that deadline is either a week, month, or year. When a task hits its deadline, you must choose to either renew it for another period, or throw it away. When you renew a task, its deadline grows to the next period size (short-term -> medium-term; medium-term -> long-term.) And all tasks other than short-term tasks must be broken down into subtasks.

2. Probabilistic cache-eviction: you can set a (soft) size limit on your task list. Once you hit your list-size limit, every new task entered will evict an old task from the list. So, every time you enter a new task on a "full" list, the list software will select a random subset of your oldest tasks and force you to choose one to evict one in order to replace it with the new task. (So your newest tasks are highest priority, and your oldest tasks sort of "rot" and fade away. But you can "bump" tasks at any time to manually move them back to the top of the list. A task is also "bumped" when it hits its re-evaluation deadline and you choose to renew it.)

Basically, this is the personal-productivity equivalent of how Red Tape Reduction laws work :)

Thanks a lot :)

I like your idea, notify me when you hit the market with that :)

Maybe a small explanation to the chaos in the name.

So over the last couple years all the buzz seems to be about zen, zen here, zen there. But what all (that i know of) these zen products have in common is that the just force all the zen out of their users, by forcing them to put exactly the data in they need and be careful when you did not dot your i's and cross your t's.

But, at least in my experience, life can get messy and chaotic. So I would like a new software generation, which just deals with that instead of forcing that work onto me. I named it the chaos generation and with all the ai advancements we might be on a good track to make that happen eventually :)

Also my family group on Whatsapp is named Chaosclan, so I got that in there :)


Yep, I really expected something like Anki, but for tasks. I wonder if you could hack the Anki engine for that - you have a list of things you'd like to semi-regularly get to but you can't prioritise it and you can't schedule it always at the same hour every day. So you can take out your phone, tap "I am free now, what should I do?" and get a task to do now. With time the engine will learn the approximate time each task takes and how much time you can devote per day, so it should be able to schedule your ongoing tasks more or less optimally. You could couple that with the standard calendar so you won't get a time-consuming task right before an appointment.

How I envision this would work: You want to read a specific book, practise german, contribute to two specific f/oss projects and watch jackie chan's entire filmography. You put in 5 tasks: "book", "german", "oss A", "oss B" and "jackie chan". The engine will select one at semi-random when you indicate you're free to do it and track how much time you spend on it. Some tasks can additionally have percentage completions associated with them - you can say how much of the book you've read and how many movies you've watched, but the other three are ongoing without a clear goal. So it will try to make sure you spend equal time on ongoing tasks, while making equal progress on ones with a clear goal.

(Disclaimer: This idea is Free. Please take it and build this software. I would, but I can't plan my time efficiently to do it. Or as Pooh would say: I know I can think of a better way to get down the stairs, but not while bumping my head in them)

A bit of background story...

I pretty much hated Todo-Lists all my life. Instead of doing what you are supposed to do, you get the additional overhead of putting it also into a list? F* that! Instead of remembering the things I gotta do, I now have to remember looking at my Todo-list. So at some point I was thinking... we are close to self-driving cars... we are dreaming of setteling down on f*ing Mars. Why is there no Todo-list which can just tell me when and where a task is important.

So you still have the overhead of putting the task in, but now the tradeoff will be you being able to actually throw the task out of your head and focus on the things which are important right here, right now.

I am in the process of finalizing the design for a first marketing offensive and am looking here for more feedback to make it the best possible product it can be. Mind helping me out? :)


I can find no mention of pricing, other than that it’s free forever.

When you say you’re doing a “first marketing offensive”, it would suggest you’ll be spending time/money on it, and I expect you expect to see some ROI.

I’d be hesitant to invest my time in any service without having a clear understanding of what it’s going to cost me.

Hello there,

so when you start at first you do not even need to register for anything. I want people to be able to jump in with minimal effort. After 3 days (or earlier of your own choosing) you will be asked to register an account.

The app will be free forever if you have less than 6 active tasks at all time. If you get over that threshold you have the option to enable advertisments (one banner at the bottom) for unlimited access or stay for free and live with the 6 task limit.

I am planning to give users the option to just buy the product for some euros instead of using advertisements. But that will come at a later point when I get around to it.

So basically at the moment, it is my own implementation of the fremium model prevailent in many mobile apps :)

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this model (and kudos to you for providing a couple different options), but it's definitely worth outlining what the future payment methods will (most likely) look like since people like the comment you're responding to may be put off by the complete lack of information on cost, especially when the app is something like to-do lists where people want to just find a good one and stick to it for a long time.

Hmmm you might be right. I tought free would attract more people then laying out the option, but being completely transparent might evaluate to more here. I have to think about that. Thanks for the input :)

I would probably only use this product if I could pay for it.

I don't want to invest in a system that will disappear because it isn't paying a thoughtful UX designer's rent. Most ads are poorly-targeted distractions, even those by Amazon. That is the last thing I want in a tool that I'm trying to use to help my brain tame the chaos of my tasks and obligations. Unless I had some way of knowing that the ads would be high-quality ones with really effective targeting based on either the content of my todo-list or a box where you let me complain about my problems

that is fine. If you happen to be on iOS there is an abonement already available which basically is the "I like what you are doing and would love to support more"-option for now. If you are more interested in a one-time payment, there is no option for that yet, but I would like to have one in the near(er) future.


A note on your trailer video - “cancel handy contract” might not make sense to American English speakers, since “handy” is not a term we use to refer to a cell phone.

I would add that the accepted meaning of “handy” as a noun rather than an adjective in the U.S. and U.K. is ah... a sex act.

Uha Im intrigued now it is suitable enough to share the details? :D

Wikipedia "handjob", article starts with a nfsw picture.

I think I should have been able to figure that one out :facepalm: :D

TIL, thanks

I immediately noticed he/she's a fellow german XD

he and yeah cant hide the potato english. Thanks for enduring, I guess :)

There are a couple of english words/phrases in German that no native english speaker knows. Like, if you talk about a "jump and run" people will look at you weirdly.

I have to redo all the videos as soon as the new design is completely done and implemented. I will keep this in mind than. Thanks a lot :)

So... what's the monetization strategy? A lot of things you'd expect to see charged for in a smaller service like this are things you're saying are free forever.

No details needed - I'm just curious at how you plan to sustain it longterm. I don't want my todo items turning into ad monetization :).

Hello there,

so when you start at first you do not even need to register for anything. I want people to be able to jump in with minimal effort. After 3 days (or earlier of your own choosing) you will be asked to register an account.

The app will be free forever if you have less than 6 active tasks at all time. If you get over that threshold you have the option to enable advertisments (one banner at the bottom) for unlimited access or stay for free and live with the 6 task limit.

I am planning to give users the option to just buy the product for some euros instead of using advertisements. But that will come at a later point when I get around to it.

So basically at the moment, it is my own implementation of the fremium model prevailent in many mobile apps :)

Very cool. I'm reminded of a terrific book, "Algorithms to Live By", which inspired me to create a simple prioritization workflow that helps me sort todos by their "value density", so to speak. One of these days I'll make time to write it up and share it....

If it would help you for you to talk your your ideas out to a human who then takes notes, asks questions, or helps you clarify your ideas for a first or second draft, please email me (address in my profile). I am earnestly struggling to find ways to learn task-prioritization so would love to listen to someone else's thoughts on it.

ping me when you do. Sounds really cool :)

Interesting, downloaded and will give it a try. I've been looking for a todo list that can sort based on priority, either manually or automatically.

A couple questions:

1. Your front page bullet point says it prioritizes based on impending deadline and vicinity. Are there any other inputs for prioritization?

I ask b/c one of the main challenges of time management is prioritizing urgent+important > important+not urgent > urgent+not important (or striking an effective balance b/t the latter two). The "important" part isn't necessarily signified by deadlines or vicinity.

2. Offline capable: Excellent! What are the best ways of implementing offline-capable/first mobile apps these days? A sync'ing datastore like Couchdb or Pouchdb? Or something else?

1. I am using datetime (enddate or "how long in your list"), vicinity, opening times, shared users and parent to childtask hierarchy at the moment.

And yes you are absolutely right, that there are several factors which determine importancy. So as I am not yet able to reading my users' minds (Im working on it, believe me :)) the result will never be 100% accurate. But I think it is already good enough to be of valuable help and it will only get better from here.

2. There are frameworks out there which you can use, but as the sync is mission critical to my app I do not like to be dependent on any framework. So I rolled my own sync solution, based on Nodejs with a postgresdb in the back :)

Any plans for a web frontend? Letting my mobile remind me of things based on location is something I wanted to have for a long time, but typing stuff and organizing things is much more comfortable with a real screen + keyboard.

I would love to be able to. I also have some deeper plans even I would like to take the product.

But at the moment I am doing this on my own, ios, android version and the server, while doing a normal 40-hour job at SAP.

So while it is on my roadmap, don't hold your breath just yet :)

Congrats on the launch.

The privacy policy is very not suited for this service. The most important point is that you're based in Germany based on the address in the policy, but there isn't a single mention of the GDPR. That and the ePrivacy Directive are what count for you the most. My recommendation is don't use a free policy generator and get proper advice. I appreciate this isn't something commonly seen as a launch blocker, but it's important to sort it out properly.

Find your German state data protection authority, and invariably you'll find they have great guidance.

Thanks - I have not looked too deep into that yet, basically just scratching the surface and back to coding, but I have it on MY chaoslist :)

You misspelled "plethora" as "phletora" on the front page.

Uh thanks a lot, every bit helps :)

fixed thanks again

So basically org-modes agenda mixed with its priorities on mobile, right? Nothing automatic beyond that except of locations.

Putting the nice stuff of org-mode in an easy to use app sounds very good :)

I had to google that and I am still not sure I found the right thing :)

So let me maybe clarify the algorithm running a bit. Im trying to pull in as much information for a task as I can reasonably get. One important information source is the things you as user give me voluntarily, e.g. and end date, a location, shared users, ... Then there is information a user gives me kind of by accident as in "how long has this task been unfulfilled in your list?" A third information source is correlated data from the internet, like the distance to a location and the opening times of said location if applicable.

I use all this information (if you give me access to) correlate them with the same information of your other tasks and some common sense, put in a tablespoon of salt and pepper and stir for about 2 and a half minutes. Out of that falls a priority sorted list ==> chaoslist

Org-mode is a really powerful tool for todos in the emacs text editor. It's totally convoluted though and hard to get in to.

It allows for quick sorting, schedules, deadlines and importance. You can than display an calendar/agenda view or sort by importance.

Mushing all you can get together to do the hierarchy sounds awesome. So you basically can do the GTD-Method automatically :). Org-mode does not do that (but who knows, usually there is some plugin doing it :) )

Mildly important, can be done right here and little effort: do next. Very important, can't be done here, not urgent: later. Right?

You are correct, that is basically what it boils down to. :)

The concept of a tasklist as a service worries me.

Whoever runs this service can schedule the tasks as he wishes, effectively having the users at his command.

At a scale, this is terrifying.

Well you are a master of your own mind and life. Feel free to just ignore chaoslist notifications when they inevitably lead humanity into certain doom.

Cool, please add Google Play link as I almost closed the web site after only seeing Apple store image.

I’m very interested, but I’ll need a way to get tasks in there using Siri or something similar.

Voice input is on the road map, but there is no timeline for it yet. But you know how it works... the more I hear it, the more likely it will get prioritized higher :)

On Android it crashes as soon as I try to delete any of the default tasks.

would you mind giving me the android version you are running on? I will look into this.

1+5t with Android 9.0.

I uploaded a new version some hours ago, which should fix your problem. Thanks for reporting it and the additional details.

Looks like the app won’t run without enabling location services. Bummer..

You should be able to run the app without location services. Of course everything related to that will not be included when prioritising your tasks. Are you running the iOS or Android version?


Hey you are right there is a step you can not get over without location services enabled. this is not intentionally though. I will fix this in the next version.

If you are willing to give me your email-address I can add you to the beta testers, which will give you earlier access to the bugfix. Hit me up at team@chaoslist.io if interested.


Are there a lot of people who don't use a to do list?

There are a lot of ppl for basically anything.

There are also a lot of ppl not using my todo-list yet, so I am focusing on that part a tad more :)

Crashed after install and wouldn't start up again.

Are you on the iOS or Android Version? And could you give me some more information e.g. device / modell / ios / android version. I will look into this.

I expected the "BogoSort" of time management

Jeez thanks for telling me now, I could have saved a year development with your method ;)

are the apps native?

both apps are completely native yes. As I use a lot of low level functionality tuned to its fullest capabilities, I chose to go native directly to not end up being blocked by any framework.


Feel free to try :)

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