Marvin incorporates a variety of ideas from behavioral psychology to help you get more done and feel better while doing it.
There are three overarching principles that Marvin is built on. It’s important to understand these three core principles and stick to best practices in order to get the most out of Marvin.
Perhaps Marvin is best described as a day planning application.
Planning your day is the single most effective thing you can do to boost your productivity and that's why the entire application is centered around this principle. While there is a place for you to store and organize all your tasks, you have to schedule them first into your day before you can check them off.
If you are already making a daily todo list then this concept will be very familiar to you. If you have been using one of the popular todo list apps (Todoist, Wunderlist, Remember the milk etc.) this will be a real game changer.
Planning your day will make you think about what you want to get done each day and it separates planning from working. This creates a ton of benefits.
We recommend planning each day the night before but some people prefer to do it first thing in the morning.
When it comes to productivity we believe: different things work for different people. While there are definitely big productivity concepts that work for the majority of people (like planning your day!), ultimately our brains and lives are all unique and there is not one system that will work perfectly for every person.
So instead of forcing anyone to stick to an established productivity system, we want to give people the flexibility to customize their experience so they can come up with a unique system that works for them.
How to build your perfect system
Most of Marvin’s features are wrapped up in what we call "strategies".
Strategies can be enabled/disabled on an individual basis and a lot of them can even be customized. Combining different strategies allows you to build a unique system that works for you.
Trying out different workflows couldn't be easier in Marvin as you can switch things up with one click, anytime. It's the perfect place to perform productivity experiments. After all, trying different setups and analyzing the results is the only way to really know what works for you.
What kind of strategies are there?
Each strategy adds a unique feature to Marvin and is designed to help with a set of specific productivity challenges: beating procrastination, making progress on important projects, prioritizing tasks, managing your time and much more. They all have tags so it is easier to find the ones you need. Here is a list of our current strategies. We are releasing new strategies every few weeks.
To give you an idea of what strategies can do, we have a strategy that let's you time block your week, one that tracks the time you spend on each task, one that let's you add a time estimate to each task etc. We are excited to soon be adding strategies that integrate concepts from game design to make working off your tasks more fun and motivating.
This principle is very far reaching and influenced many decisions about we designed Marvin. But it's also an important principle to help guide you in the way you use Marvin. Basically, the idea is that everything should be set up in a way that makes it as easy as possible to get work done.
The easier and more fun something feels, the more likely we are to do it.
Marvin is designed in a way that makes working off tasks as pleasurable and easy as possible. But this principle is also important to keep in mind when creating tasks, organizing tasks, planning your day and choosing your strategies. So you play a big part in ensuring you make it easy for your future-self to get work done.
Our guide on best practices will give you a lot of specific tips on how to implement this principle. Sticking to those guidelines will help you to set yourself up for success by creating a daily todo list that you can’t resist to get done.
Some describe Marvin as a day planning tool. Others call it a todo list app on steroids or the ultimate productivity tool.
Marvin combines functionalities from task managers, calendars and other productivity tools such as time trackers and timers. Ultimately, Marvin's job is to help you feel in control of your life and get all your work done.
Marvin is feature packed. But we don't want to clutter the interface unnecessarily. That is why most of Marvin's features come packaged as strategies, which can be enabled and disabled. This way you only see the features you actually use and can customize your experience. This will make it possible for you to create your own productivity system.
In Marvin you have a place where you store and organize all your tasks (master list) and a place where you work off your tasks (your daily todo list in the home screen) You cannot check off tasks directly within the master list (tasks don't have checkboxes there).
This means that at some point you will have to schedule tasks into your day: this is what we refer to as "planning your day".
The first thing you see when you log in to Marvin is your home screen. Your home screen is always on the current day ("today"). The home screen is also refered to as "my day" view (in the sidebar). This is where your tasks for the day will show up. In other words the home screen is your todo list for the day and where you can work off your tasks.
The top of the sidebar shows you which day you are looking at (by default it always goes to "today"). Underneath you have a menu with your main views. When you first start using Marvin there will only be the "my day" view which is selected by default. Some strategies will add other links to you sidebar (eg. a calendar view).
Navigating to other days
You can navigate to any other day by using the "previous" and "next" buttons or by clicking on the calendar icon to select a specific date. You can also use the keyboard to navigate: right arrow to go to the next day, left arrow to go to the previous day and down arrow to go to today.
Every day has its own todo list where you can create tasks or schedule tasks into from the Master List.
Other Pages & Overlays
Most of the time when you navigate to another page in Marvin you are not actually navigating away from the home screen but the page opens up as a fullscreen overlay on top of your home screen. You can close overlays to go back to your home screen by clicking the x on the top right or hitting the esc key on your keyboard.
Adding tasks to your day
You can either create new tasks that go straight into your daily todo list or schedule existing tasks from your Master List into the daily list.
To create tasks and add them straight to your day, use the task input bar at the very top of the page.
To schedule tasks without navigating away from the "My day" view press "Shift+ M" to have the Master List show up in the sidebar on the left. From there you can drag and drop tasks straight into your day.
On the top right of your daily todo list is the ghost menu. By default there are three buttons in the menu that let you interact with your daily task list: plan day (schedule tasks from the Master List), filter and bulk reschedule.
Many strategies add an extra button here. Eg. "Day Notes", "Task jar" etc.
At the bottom of your home screen you find five colorful buttons with an icon. When you hover over a button the title appears, telling you what the button is for.
Super focus mode
Click the green button on the left any time during work to shift into super focus mode. The super focus mode lets you see one task at a time from your daily todo list.
Keyboard shortcut: "F"
If at any time during your work you want to make use of a timer (eg. pomodoro technique) click the orange button and get a timer started. There are two basic timers in Marvin: a sand timer and a tomato timer.
Keyboard shortcut: "T"
If you ever feel stuck or have a question click the red button in the middle to send a direct message to our support team or find the answer in our knowledge base.
Keyboard shortcut: "H"
The dashboard gives you an overview over your current productivity situation. It shows you tasks and projects that are due soon and other things depending on which strategies you are using. You can access it anytime by clicking the blue button.
Keyboard shortcut: "D"
The master list is where you store and organize all your tasks and projects, access it with the turquoise button. Think of the master list as your external memory. If you are used to another todo list app this is basically what it replaces.
Keyboard shortcut: "M"
The hamburger menu is always on the top right of your main screen. When you click it a dropdown menu appears that lets you navigate to other pages such as your account details, strategies, and recurring tasks. Links in the hamburger menu are pages you don't need to access regularly. All settings-related pages are accessed using the hamburger menu.
This is one of the most important parts about Marvin. It lets you disable and enable a lot of the unique features in Marvin. If you haven't done so already, read up on what strategies are and why they are important.
Keyboard shortcut: "S"
In the recurring tasks page you can set up tasks that will be automatically scheduled into your days on certain dates.
In the account page you can see and change your subscription to Marvin, change some settings, and delete your account.
There are currently three different themes you can chose from for Marvin: default, minimal and dark. Just click on the button in the hamburger menu to cycle through them.
There are three main items in Marvin: tasks, projects and categories. It's important to understand the purpose and function of each to use them correctly.
Tasks are the basic unit of action. They are individual steps that describe a specific and single action to be taken. Check out some examples of good tasks.
Projects are collections of tasks that have a specific end. In other words, at some point a project is completed. Make sure you understand when to create projects.
Categories help to group related tasks and projects so they are easier to find. Categories cannot be completed, they are just containers that hold tasks and projects. You will mostly work with main categories.
Whenever you hover over an item you can see a little menu with icons appear on the right. Depending on which strategies you have enabled, you will see more or less icons.
When hovering over an icon you can see what action the icon is associated with. The schedule and edit icons will open a mini dialog.
The Schedule mini dialog
Click on the schedule icon ( ) to open the schedule mini dialog. The schedule mini dialog lets you quickly move a task to a different day or back to your master list. Any sections strategy also adds an option to move tasks to a different section within your day.
The Edit mini dialog
The edit mini dialog ( click on to open it ) lets you assign due dates to a task and add subtasks. Some strategies add additional edit features to this dialog.
The trashcan always deletes the item. If you accidentally delete an item there is a notification that pops up on the top right that lets you undo the deletion when clicking on it. So you have a few seconds to undo an accidental deletion.
Before starting your 30-day trial, we highly recommend that you are at least a bit familiar with the basics of Marvin and understand best practices so that you can get the most out of your trial.
Here is a checklist of the things you should know about before getting started with Marvin:
Since there are so many ways you can use Marvin and we are constantly adding more features, it's a good idea to read articles on our blog, engage on our facebook page and check out our workflow examples in order to get a ton of fresh ideas on improving your productivity system.
Of course you want to try Marvin for yourself before committing. And we understand that you might not want to import all of your tasks just to try Marvin. If so, then this guide is for you! It's the quickest way to experience the benefits of Marvin without any long setup process.
If you do want to get set up properly to try Marvin or you already decided to become a member, follow these steps instead.
Make sure you understand each point in this checklist before trying out Marvin to get the most out of it.
First, decide on which day when you want to work with Marvin. Ideally it's a regular work day that includes a nice variety of your normal tasks.
The night before your Marvin work day, go through your task list (on the app you are currently using or in your notebook) and pick out which tasks you want to do the next day. Add each task to your day in Marvin.
How you write your tasks has a huge impact on how likely you are to get them done. Check out our guide on how to create great tasks.
If you haven't played around with the strategies, you haven't really seen Marvin. Click on the hamburger menu on the top right and navigate to "strategies". Click on each strategy to read about it and use the tags to filter by topic (eg. "procrastination", "overwhelm", "prioritization").
Turn them on one by one and go back to the my day view to explore the feature they added. Feel free to turn strategies on/off as much as you like. You won't break anything!
Since you are trying Marvin without getting properly set up, the strategies that will be most interesting for you are the ones that directly affect your daily task list. Try the ones with the "sections" tag, "Dangling Carrot", "How Long Will This Take?", "Track Your Time", "Time Blocking", "The Task Jar" etc.
After you have selected a few strategies you want to try and have your todo list set up for the day, you are ready to work off those tasks.
If you are pretty sure Marvin will work for you, have checked off all the points in this checklist and you want to get set up properly, follow these steps:
The first thing you want to do is get all of your tasks into Marvin and organize them. This is a very important step and it is best to just follow this detailed guide to do this.
After you have added all your tasks and projects into the master list, you will want to think about if there are any specific tasks that you will be doing regularly. For those tasks it might make sense to set up a recurring task that will automatically get scheduled into your day at the right time.
For example, if you are want to wash your sheets every week, set up a recurring task to have the task "wash sheets" automatically show up on your chosen day each week.
Finding the perfect strategies for you takes time and experimentation. Don't worry about getting it "right" on the first try. There is nothing that you can mess up by enabling or disabling strategies.
Click on each strategy to read about it to get an idea if they could be a good fit. You can also filter them by their tags (e.g. "procrastination", "overwhelm", "prioritization") to find strategies that seem interesting to you.
Almost ready to get stuff done! The only thing that is left is to create your todo list for tomorrow (or whenever you want to start working with Marvin).
After you have selected some strategies and have your day planned, you are ready to work off those tasks.