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Three Mac GTD applications are really showing promise

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  • Three Mac GTD applications are really showing promise

    Hello all,

    Loving my Mac, I am happy to see that three Mac GTD applications are really showing promise.

    They are:

    (in beta, moving to a release soon)

    (moving to version 2)

    (in semi-private Alpha, release yet to be announced)

    They all have screencasts, and look to be in a heated competition with each other (which will hopefully spark innovation and progress). They all have features that I like, and I have to say that I am quite excited to watch (and experience) their progress, as I will likely end up using one of these as my GTD app on my Macs.

    Anyone else trying the betas/alphas, and want to discuss their experiences here?


  • #2
    I've used two of these


    I've used two of these tools pretty extensively (iGTD and OmniFocus) and agree that both are well-done and evolving nicely. The third (Things) also looks interesting and adds a nice collaboration element the other two either do not have or have only hinted at.

    It's certainly nice to see this kind of innovation and craft happening on the Mac platform and I suspect any one of these tools will be a good choice for managing your projects and next actions.

    Currently I'm working through my stuff in OmniFocus to better understand the edges of what it can do. I've been waiting for iGTD2 for some time now and it appears that a release is on its way in the near future. I'll probably give it another go in the same spirit before deciding between the two.

    As I have been a longtime customer of Omni (I use Outliner Pro and Graffle all the time in my work), I was able to pick up a license for OmniFocus at a steep discount (50% off during the beta plus an extra $10 off for being an Outliner Pro user) so I'm set on that front.

    I want to avoid "tool thrashing" but want to understand how each tool works because I write about and consult with individuals and companies on this stuff all the time. I plan to ultimately choose one and will try to stick with my considered choice and focus on the tasks at hand. 've been down the "tweaker" road before and know how seductive and unproductive that can be.



    • #3
      Amen mochant! It is far too easy to get caught in the tweaking trap and waste much more time than one ever saves with all the "time-saving" tools.

      Good to hear your thoughts on OmniFocus.


      • #4
        I've been waiting for OmniFocus for some time and was excited to download it. But after a few glitches, I deleted it. But after realizing a few mistakes I had made with using it, I went back to it yesterday and find it to be a powerful Task Management tool and one I will be using in conjunction with Mail and iCal.

        Great job, Omnigroup!


        • #5
          I concur that going down the "tweaker" road is bad. That said, I plan to thoroughly examine the options up front and then subsequently stick with the one I choose. After that, it will take a work of genius to make me change to a new program.

          This may mean a bit of work now, but I believe that it will result in a choice that I am happy with, respect and most importantly, trust.

          As of the moment, of the three contenders, I prefer Things. It has a very Mac oriented interface, and is very stable for an alpha piece of software. The developers are extremely responsive (I sent in some feedback, got a personal reply, and access to the alpha). The tag system makes a ton of sense to me (which is encouraging me to actually use GTD contexts in ways that I haven't before). Their postpone system works well, and after I found the speedkey in the alpha wiki, I am using it with success. Speaking of speedkeys, the way Things implements speedkeys for applying Tags/contexts to tasks is brilliant. The simplicity/elegance of Things is refreshing, as it is easy for me to focus and process. I find that I am spending less time with the tweaking of the program, and more time just getting things done (which is the opposite of my experience with the nightly builds of OmniFocus).

          I do like many of the details that OmniFocus brings to the table (start dates, hierarchical order, and some web functionality to begin with), but I don't feel productive using it. I think that I need to invest some time using the perspectives functionality to see if that improves my feelings/interactions with OmniFocus. It is progressing at a rapid rate, so I will keep evaluating it until I make my final decision.

          I'll wait for iGTD 2 to become available, as the posted information makes it look like a worthwhile contender.

          I'm giving myself a deadline that coincides with four weeks after the release of the iPhone SDK. Since I have a iPhone, I hope to use it as my GTD device when I am away from my Mac (both OmniFocus and Things have hinted that they will support the iPhone with an actual app that synchronizes data, when the SDK is available).

          This will give me time to fully evaluate three contenders, and not make a early or rushed decision.



          • #6
            Two Missing Honorable Mentions?

            Ready-Set-Do! and ThinkingRock also deserve some attention. These two are the most GTD-centric of all of the offerings to-date. The true test of all of these digital implementations of GTD will be whether they propel people beyond the organizing stages of GTD on into the actual doing of tasks. So far I think Ready-Set-Do! and ThinkingRock understand this processing/doing component better than the rest.

            Todd V
            Ready-Set-Do! Creator
            Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011, 11:10 PM.


            • #7
              re: On Tweaking & Jumping Systems

              There is also an excellent blog here on the reasons so many of us tend to try different systems when one of them starts to bore or create anxiety for us. A really good read.


              • #8
                After another post on OmniFocus, I realized that I never followed up on this thread after I finalized my choice.

                iGTD 2 seems to have stalled in alpha development.

                Things has progressed slowly, but has improved over the last year. They have stated that they will release version 1.0 at MacWorld 2009 in January. I will reevaluate it at that time (as I still like its clean interface and tag system).

                Ready-Set-Do! looked interesting as a desktop file implementation, but I found that Kinkless Desktop suited me better for files.

                ThinkingRock is terribly slow and has a interface that feels crude (that seems to be common to Java-based applications that are not thoroughly ported to the Mac).

                My final choice was OmniFocus. I also use Evernote for non-action items.

                OmniFocus has a native Mac interface, is speedy and has a native iPhone application that synchronizes to the desktop version.

                Here are some comments from the other thread, which show why I chose OmniFocus over the other contenders:

                I have found that I get more things done in shorter periods of time when working with OmniFocus. It works for me, it is fast and it gives me a feeling of being Captain and Commander of my system (which I feel is utterly important when selecting a tool).

                I have OmniFocus set up with the following areas:
                • Inbox
                • General
                • Mind
                • Body
                • Spirit
                • Home
                • Office
                • Car
                • Objects
                • Monthly
                • Quarterly
                • Annually
                • Lifestyle
                • Incubate
                • Done

                I have OmniFocus set to start up when my Mac boots. It is running all of the time (it doesn't drain system resources on my G5 with 2GB of RAM). I have a Quicksilver speedkey set to invoke OmniFocus when I type F5. It is always a single keystroke away.

                I gather actionable items into OmniFocus using the Clippings service speedkey, which gathers pertinent data simultaneously (for example, while in Mail, typing the speedkey instantly captures the e-mail into OmniFocus' Inbox, with the subject as the title, and a link back to the e-mail in the notes - this is faster than I could do these steps with any web application - the speedkey literally takes a second to do all of this). For new projects, I use the Quick Entry speedkey.

                Three times a day, I process my inbox items. I use speedkeys to move them into areas. This is also the point where I make decisions about the validity of the project. If I don't commit to the project at this time, it is deleted. If I have doubt (which is rare), I send it to Incubate.

                Once a day (generally at the end of the day), I organize the next actions and contexts for projects. I add start and due dates (if needed), and set actions as sequential or parallel.

                When there aren't any projects taking my active focus, I review the lists in OmniFocus, and choose next actions to do based on my active context(s).

                When projects are finished, I move them to Done (I prefer to move them, rather than just hide them).

                Once a week (currently on Wednesdays, but I am evaluating changing that), I use the Review perspective and mark each item as reviewed. This provides me a record of when I last reviewed something. This helps me review items on a regular basis while leaving monthly, quarterly and annual items to their respective review periods.

                On the road, I use OmniFocus with my MacBook Pro, which is synchronized through MobileMe.

                When my computers aren't accessible, I use OmniFocus on my iPhone, which is synchronized to MobileMe. I will often capture audio or photos directly into OmniFocus on the iPhone, to facilitate rapid inbox items.

                When running errands, I utilize OmniFocus and GPS on the iPhone to identify my location and instantly access my contextualized lists. For example, GPS detects that I am at the grocery store, and it presents me with my grocery list (items with a context of Grocery Store).

                If any of the single systems fail (power/battery gone, hardware failure, theft, etc.), I go to the other. Since things are synchronized, there is no risk of losing my data.

                As a further back up (in case of hardware failure or batteries running down), I carry a stack of 3x5 index cards (ala the HipsterPDA). I find that I rarely use them, but they take little room, and are nice to have as a resource.

                For pure research gathering (not actionable items), I use Evernote. I like that it has native clients (Mac, Windows, iPhone) in addition to a synchronized web interface.

                MobileMe keeps my OmniFocus data, calendar and contacts synchronized. It is stable now, and it just works.

                The above works smoothly for me, and gives me complete confidence. I have trust and pride in the system. There isn't any double-entry, specialized phrasing/descriptions or unnecessary upkeep. There was a period where I did tweak OmniFocus, but that passed, and now it is a tool that facilitates getting things done. I think that is the case with all tools. You need to work with them until the familiarity threshold allows you to truly trust/work the tool. For me, it was about a month. I feel it was well worth it.