Benefits of changing tools (for change sake)

rmjb

Registered
When I started GTD at the end of 2017 I started with a newly released app called Microsoft To-Do. It was early days for that app and it showed. ~6 months later I heard about Nirvana on a podcast and the description made it sound 100% aligned to GTD. I checked it out and quickly migrated to it, paying for it annually to support the developer.

Now 3½ years in I feel compelled to move back to To-Do. It has improved a lot since 2017/2018 and what put me over the top is the recently released (purchased and read) GTD Setup Guide for it. I want to move because I feel it will integrate better with my otherwise Microsoft 365 workflow, and it should allow me to collaborate with my team; Nirvana has 0 collaboration features. Also, the (lack of) pace of Nirvana innovation has always bothered me.

I sat down this morning to start the copy and paste of my 178 Projects over, and after completing 13, and figuring out if/how to keep the Areas of Focus mapping, and then what that would mean when it get down to copying my 224 Next Action/Waiting For items, I paused.

This change would be a drastic shake up to the workflow I've developed over the last three years. There are advantages to either system, and I'd be giving up Nirvana's established advantages to me for potential To-Do advantages.

My question is this: to those of you that have changed tools, what are the benefit of just changing? Does the act of changing the tool give you a fresh start? Or have you found that it caused more pain for little gain in the long run?
 
Last edited:

Ger80C

Registered
In my experience, changing tools is often cumbersome and does not provide that much of added benefit - unless you change the medium. I changed from digital back to analog a while ago, and that, while of course stirring and shaking up my "system" (don't overthink it, it's just a few lists!), was helpful. But changing from one digital tool to another? I doubt that I would really benefit from that, unless the digital tool I left lacked functionality, was deprecated or I was forced to leave it behind...
 

TesTeq

Registered
But changing from one digital tool to another? I doubt that I would really benefit from that, unless the digital tool I left lacked functionality, was deprecated or I was forced to leave it behind...
@Ger80C I can see a value if there is no possibility to automate the migration process. When you have to manually copy and paste each project (or retype) you can delete the old projects that are not worth this effort (of copying and pasting).
 

kelstarrising

Kelly Forrister | GTD® Coach
Over the past 25 years, I’ve changed tools A LOT. And even when I use a tool sometimes change how I set it up. It always injects new enthusiasm, after the initial transfer.

I’ve changed because I write all of the GTD setup guides and it can help sometimes to fully immerse myself in the tool. Other times I’ve changed just because I want to try something new.
:p

Changing tools can kind of be like that experience as a kid when you switch your bedroom around. It all feels fresh, fun, and new.

So that’s all to say, I’m a fan of switching tools when you want to try something new (within reason, because there are people who are never happy in their quest for the perfect tool).

I currently use Todoist, but Microsoft To Do is an excellent choice these days too.
 
Last edited:

rmjb

Registered
@Ger80C I can see a value if there is no possibility to automate the migration process. When you have to manually copy and paste each project (or retype) you can delete the old projects that are not worth this effort (of copying and pasting).
My weekly reviews should mean that my project lists are current though.
 

rmjb

Registered
Over the past 25 years, I’ve changed tools A LOT. And even when I used a tool I’ve change how I use it. It always injects new enthusiasm, after the initial transfer.

I’ve changed because I write all of the GTD setup guides and it can help sometimes to fully immerse myself in the tool. Other times I’ve changed just because I want to try something new.
:p

Changing tools can kind of be like that experience as a kid when you switch your bedroom around. It all feels fresh, fun, and new.

So that’s all to say, I’m a fan of switching tools when you want to try something new (within reason, because there are people who are never happy in their quest for the perfect tool).
Hi Kelly, I've read three of your set up guides thus far, they are well written with a common structure, making it easier to compare tools. Given your role you would also have a unique perspective. Thanks for the insight about the enthusiasm of something new.

However, what do you think are the wrong reasons to change your tool?
 
Last edited:

kelstarrising

Kelly Forrister | GTD® Coach
Hi Kelly, I've read three of your set up guides thus far, they are well written with a common structure, making it easier to compare tools. Given your role would also have a unique perspective. Thanks for the insight about the enthusiasm of something new.

However, what do you think are the wrong reasons to change your tool?
Wrong reason would be the quest for the perfect tool for GTD. Perfect will be different for everyone, but I’ve seen people over the years get into an endless quest and keep switching tools, so they never get to that delicious space of not thinking about the tool anymore.
 

Sojourner

Registered
I want to move because I feel it will integrate better with my otherwise Microsoft 365 workflow, and it should allow me to collaborate with my team; Nirvana has 0 collaboration features. Also, the (lack of) pace of Nirvana innovation has always bothered me.

...Areas of Focus mapping, and then what that would mean when it get down to copying my 224 Next Action/Waiting For items, I paused.

My question is this: to those of you that have changed tools, what are the benefit of just changing? Does the act of changing the tool give you a fresh start? Or have you found that it caused more pain for little gain in the long run?
While it will be a little painful, I think you have compelling and valid reasons for a fresh start and new perspective with To-Do... better workflow integration and collaboration. If the new tool will not only allow you to practice GTD but also provide additional work related benefits, then I think it's probably worth the it in the long run.

I used to be a "perfect" tool chaser and finally settled on Nirvana, as it fit all my core needs. While you consider it's "(lack of) pace" bothersome, I consider it the stability and familiarity I needed in a tool for something so essential in how I function. Areas of focus were a big part of that. I like having my personal and work areas separated. I only use GTD for my individual work responsibilities, and we have other tools we use for team collaboration.
 

bishblaize

Registered
I love changing tools. Its like painting the walls of your house, it may not be materially different, but it keeps you interested. I don't change my task manager any more, but email app, notes app, browser, file manager etc I change quite often.
 

thomasbk

Registered
Wrong reason would be the quest for the perfect tool for GTD. Perfect will be different for everyone, but I’ve seen people over the years get into an endless quest and keep switching tools, so they never get to that delicious space of not thinking about the tool anymore.

YES! This is an underrated point. Not thinking about the tool removes an external friction point between you and your system.
 

Christian_A_UK

Chief Experience Officer, UK Based
For me, changing the tool can break the cycle of "routine" for me and just give me that lift to discover & learn again. Routine can of course be good but sometimes, it brings a bit too much comfort for me, when I want to be really highly engaged with what I am working on.

I'd echo Kelly's point about To-Do and having also integrated it to be closer to my work 365 tech stack, it is definitely helping me reap the collaborative benefits with my team (that Nirvana also never game me). Ditto to the point of changing A LOT though, as I am definitely as David describes, always reacting to the next high tech shiny bauble!
 

Ariadne Marques

Registered
I've changed from Evernote, to Todoist, Nirvana, and back and forth over the years. I learned a lot when I moved to Nirvana, it gave me a clear sense of how next actions, projects, and areas of focus could be well integrated into a digital app. I think that when I stop worrying about the tool or when the tool becomes invisible during my workflow, that's when my GTD system shines. I love Nirvana, and it may sound silly, but I miss having emojis and colours! Sometimes I look back to Todoist and feel I want to get back to it, just for the looks. Then I decide against it because I've been there before and the change was not super successful.

Now, recently my workplace announced they will (finally!) migrate from Google to Microsoft. I already have all my personal stuff in Microsoft and so I'll be 100% into MS environment in the next couple of weeks. I'm testing out MS To-Do and honestly, I'm enjoying it. In this case, I would migrate to To-Do because of the compatibility with my work systems and the fact that I can have 2 separate accounts: a work and a personal account in To-Do. I was kinda "forced" to use Google Calendar all these years (for both personal and work) because of my workplace (I could never get proper sync between my personal Outlook and Google work calendar, so I had them all in Google). My system has always been a mix of Google and Microsoft apps.

I got excited by all the discussions about MS To-do here in the forum, and what is driving this migration for me now is integration. Oh, and also, I can have some emojis and colours :)
 
Last edited:

PeterW

Registered
I’ve mentioned this in another thread but will do so again here. Just be careful that you’re not changing tools because of lack of engagement with the content rather than a problem with the tool itself.

While new systems may seem fresh and give you some initial enthusiasm, if your projects and tasks/actions are repelling you from taking action (ie because they’re not well defined, lack verbs, not broken down enough into discrete actions) then a new tool won’t solve that.
 

Ariadne Marques

Registered
I practice GTD since 15 years. Many time I switch of tools. I finally stick from time to time to Omnifocus, Things and Nirvana. Changing of tool helped me to a better understanding of GTD. It's also cleaned my systems and was fun to. But now, it is over.

I agree with @FocusGuy that experimenting with different tools gave me different perspectives on how to apply GTD and fine tune my system.

After using Nirvana for 2+ years and testing other apps (I actually have fun testing other apps now and then...), I'm leaving Nirvana. I still think it's a great implementation of GTD, it's stable, clean and easy to understand.
I played around with MS To-Do and Todoist recently, which made me realize how much I like visuals, and being able to customize my lists with emojis. It may sound silly, but emojis and colors make my day brighter! It could be a phase, but I want some colors now.
Also, one of the things that I enjoy about GTD is the concept of contexts. In Nirvana I tend not to care too much about contexts, because they are kinda discreet in the app. Setting up MS To-Do (or Todoist) with the contexts lists as the first thing I see makes me engage more into my "doing mode". I decided to get back to Todoist.

After years practicing GTD I think I got to a point where changing tools is not a hassle, I could quickly set up MS To-Do and Todoist side by side, run some tests, and then decide what I wanted. I used to not know exactly how I wanted my system to be like, now it's clear to me. I know my preferences, I understand the pros and cons of each tool and I know the best way to trick my brain to get to the "engage" step.
 

rmjb

Registered
An update from me. I made the switch to MS To-Do two weeks ago. After reading Ariadne's earlier post in this thread I also went back and added some emojis to my lists, they help them stand out, look different and give the tool some personality :).

It took me over 5 hours to copy all my projects and next actions over from Nirvana to MS To-Do. Nirvana makes linking horizons 0, 1 and 2 very straightforward, and I used that feature. MS To-Do does not have that in a straightforward way. Based on Kelly's excellent GTD Implementation guide I had already resolved myself not to link projects to next actions, but I still had to work out linking areas of focus to projects; that took me a little while at the beginning of my transition journey.
It also took me another 2 hours top copy over all my someday/maybe items.
I think I leave too much undone, but that's another discussion thread to start.

I can say that one thing I like in the MS To-Do implementation over Nirvana is that the edges between contexts are even cleaner. In Nirvana all next actions are in one list, and you tag them by context. When it is time to engage, you first see ALL your next actions, then you filter to the context you're in. That simple act can pull you elsewhere and distract from your intended focus. In MS To-Do, each context is its own list. When you engage you look at the list for that context, and you're focused only on those next actions. I believe this may actually be a truer realisation of what GTD intends. I expect other tools will work in this same way.

All in all, thanks to the emojis, colours, the cleaner context lists, and my original reason for switching, the better integration with my MS 365 system, I'm happy with the switch two weeks in.
Given the time investment to switch, I don't think I'll be doing it again very soon. Unless I address the issue of hoarding entries in my system.
 

Ariadne Marques

Registered
I can say that one thing I like in the MS To-Do implementation over Nirvana is that the edges between contexts are even cleaner. In Nirvana all next actions are in one list, and you tag them by context. When it is time to engage, you first see ALL your next actions, then you filter to the context you're in. That simple act can pull you elsewhere and distract from your intended focus.

Yes, totally agree ! In Nirvana I noticed I wasn't too worried about contexts anymore, I was ignoring them for the most part. I was also missing a more direct way to see my actions by context on my mobile.

I tried MS To-Do and made an experiment of not linking projects to next actions and it didn't work for me. I tried using hashtags to identify projects, and it worked well at the beginning with fewer projects, but once I added all my work and personal projects, things started to get too confusing for me. I loved the app, tho!

Here is what MS To Do looked like for me:
MS To Do.PNG

But because I was not happy with the projects setup in MS To Do, I looked back to Todoist, cleaned it up a bit, tamed it, and now I'm happy with Todoist. I can have both contexts and projects views the way it works for my brain now. In Todoist I use "Projects" as "Projects" and labels for contexts, with filters set up in my favorites list:

Todoist.PNG
 

Graeme Thom

Registered
45789BBC-9661-45DA-BD7B-8A01B8E1FF8D.jpegIt’s fascinating and inspiring to see how everyone uses different apps and methods to set up their GTD systems. Thank you all for sharing.

I’d never before considered using emojis in contexts or tags but decided to give it a try in Nirvana and discovered it does work on both mobile and desktop. Basic screenshot (mobile app) below.
 

Ariadne Marques

Registered
View attachment 1174It’s fascinating and inspiring to see how everyone uses different apps and methods to set up their GTD systems. Thank you all for sharing.

I’d never before considered using emojis in contexts or tags but decided to give it a try in Nirvana and discovered it does work on both mobile and desktop. Basic screenshot (mobile app) below.
That's cool!
Everytime I tried to add emojis in Nirvana they would disappear after a refresh (being replaced with "?"). The emojis haven't disappeared for you?
 
Top