Moving My GTD Lists From Evernote To Nirvana

bcmyers2112

Registered
Recently I decided to migrate the bulk of my GTD lists (next actions, WFs, projects, someday/maybes) to Nirvana. I thought I'd share a little bit about what motivated the change and the results I've experienced (although admittedly it's only been two weeks since I made the switch).

In the past I've written what I now consider to be some rather strident comments in this forum expressing the views that feature-rich software managers are a crutch, moving from one list manager to another is just a form of procrastination and the solution to GTD problems is focusing on GTD fundamentals. While I still think there can be some truth in each of these, at least in certain circumstances, I've come to realize there are good reasons to use more robust list managers.

In my case, I was finding the lack of being able to see next actions associated with their relevant projects (assuming these weren't one-offs) was one of the things causing me to resist doing my weekly reviews. There are lots of reasons why this was bugging me. For one, I have a sleep disorder. I can't always count on being cognitively sharp on my weekly review days. For another, I'm in sales. There are times when I am just embarking on a sales deal and I can't easily associate the name of a prospect with the account because I haven't been working with them long enough. There were workarounds I could use to help... but for my tastes, they were clunky.

Another issue I encounter often as a salesperson are actions that I can't do until after a certain date. For example, a prospect will often tell me, "I'm interested but I can't delve into this now. Contact me again in three months."

Evernote has a lot to recommend it as a GTD list manager, but it doesn't come with a good way to link next actions and projects. Nor is there really any kind of "defer" function. I came up with a kludge for the latter, but it was just that: a kludge.

I decided to finally stop dithering and take the plunge into Nirvana, based on recommendations from people like @Longstreet. It didn't hurt that @kelstarrising endorsed it as a decent option.

Moving my lists from Evernote was predictably much more time-consuming than I predicted. My first weekly review took about three days. But my second weekly review? It was one of the easiest, most friction-free reviews I ever done.

I found a lot to like about Nirvana. It's relatively easy to link actions to projects using pick lists. There's a great search feature as well; it's nearly as robust as Evernote's search function. I was resistant at first to using tags of people and organizations to manage my waiting for lists, but I'm finding it increasingly useful.

I also love the way I can schedule an action with a future start date. It hides the action from my next action lists until the start date, yet I can see these actions attached to their projects (if they are project actions) before the start date to make my weekly review easy.

And I think Nirvana has the cleanest, most logical GTD implementation of any GTD-specific software I've tried.

I'm now finding that I'm enjoying using the system day-to-day as well as doing my weekly reviews. The system attracts rather than repels me.

This is not to say Nirvana is perfect. It isn't. For example, in the iOS client it takes six taps to filter my actions by one of the context tags; IMHO that's too many. The iOS client also lacks share sheets which requires me to use some workarounds to get things into Nirvana via Drafts and Siri.

But you know what? I'm done dwelling on imperfections and using them as an excuse to go off on another hunt for magical software unicorns. The benefits I get from Nirvana far outweigh the drawbacks.

I'm not saying Nirvana is the answer for everyone. I'm sure it's not. I hope this review proves useful to others, though.

So... yes, I'm that guy who has told everyone else not to go list-manager-hopping. And I switched list managers to solve a GTD problem. Although in my defense, it's the first time I've done so since 2012. ;)

Edited to add: I've been trying over the last several months to be less strident about my own views on GTD and to try to make my posts helpful rather than argumentative. I've also been trying to be more open to learning from other members of this forum. I doubt I've been consistently perfect but I am making an effort. Like everyone else on the planet, I'm a perpetual work in progress.
 
Recently I decided to migrate the bulk of my GTD lists (next actions, WFs, projects, someday/maybes) to Nirvana. I thought I'd share a little bit about what motivated the change and the results I've experienced (although admittedly it's only been two weeks since I made the switch).

In the past I've written what I now consider to be some rather strident comments in this forum expressing the views that feature-rich software managers are a crutch, moving from one list manager to another is just a form of procrastination and the solution to GTD problems is focusing on GTD fundamentals. While I still think there can be some truth in each of these, at least in certain circumstances, I've come to realize there are good reasons to use more robust list managers.

In my case, I was finding the lack of being able to see next actions associated with their relevant projects (assuming these weren't one-offs) was one of the things causing me to resist doing my weekly reviews. There are lots of reasons why this was bugging me. For one, I have a sleep disorder. I can't always count on being cognitively sharp on my weekly review days. For another, I'm in sales. There are times when I am just embarking on a sales deal and I can't easily associate the name of a prospect with the account because I haven't been working with them long enough. There were workarounds I could use to help... but for my tastes, they were clunky.

Another issue I encounter often as a salesperson are actions that I can't do until after a certain date. For example, a prospect will often tell me, "I'm interested but I can't delve into this now. Contact me again in three months."

Evernote has a lot to recommend it as a GTD list manager, but it doesn't come with a good way to link next actions and projects. Nor is there really any kind of "defer" function. I came up with a kludge for the latter, but it was just that: a kludge.

I decided to finally stop dithering and take the plunge into Nirvana, based on recommendations from people like @Longstreet. It didn't hurt that @kelstarrising endorsed it as a decent option.

Moving my lists from Evernote was predictably much more time-consuming than I predicted. My first weekly review took about three days. But my second weekly review? It was one of the easiest, most friction-free reviews I ever done.

I found a lot to like about Nirvana. It's relatively easy to link actions to projects using pick lists. There's a great search feature as well; it's nearly as robust as Evernote's search function. I was resistant at first to using tags of people and organizations to manage my waiting for lists, but I'm finding it increasingly useful.

I also love the way I can schedule an action with a future start date. It hides the action from my next action lists until the start date, yet I can see these actions attached to their projects (if they are project actions) before the start date to make my weekly review easy.

And I think Nirvana has the cleanest, most logical GTD implementation of any GTD-specific software I've tried.

I'm now finding that I'm enjoying using the system day-to-day as well as doing my weekly reviews. The system attracts rather than repels me.

This is not to say Nirvana is perfect. It isn't. For example, in the iOS client it takes six taps to filter my actions by one of the context tags; IMHO that's too many. The iOS client also lacks share sheets which requires me to use some workarounds to get things into Nirvana via Drafts and Siri.

But you know what? I'm done dwelling on imperfections and using them as an excuse to go off on another hunt for magical software unicorns. The benefits I get from Nirvana far outweigh the drawbacks.

I'm not saying Nirvana is the answer for everyone. I'm sure it's not. I hope this review proves useful to others, though.

So... yes, I'm that guy who has told everyone else not to go list-manager-hopping. And I switched list managers to solve a GTD problem. Although in my defense, it's the first time I've done so since 2012. ;)

Edited to add: I've been trying over the last several months to be less strident about my own views on GTD and to try to make my posts helpful rather than argumentative. I've also been trying to be more open to learning from other members of this forum. I doubt I've been consistently perfect but I am making an effort. Like everyone else on the planet, I'm a perpetual work in progress.
Thanks for sharing @bcmyers2112. Happy you like Nirvana. I seriously looked at it and really liked it but found didn’t like that I could not add attachments. And I also totally agree on the iOS app. Just curious, coming from Evernote, how you changed your workflow re attachments? (And Nirvana is Canadian, which was a bit of a draw too :)
 

Jared Caron

Registered
Nice post. I tend to agree with you in your general stance on software tools. I was a tool-shopper for a long time. I got really good with MS todo, but then had to go on a hunt due to new access rules at work making my personal lists unavailable.

I did a stint with nirvana, and overall I really like it, may even go back to it. I ended up switching over to Todoist and have had pretty good results with it. I would say I would rate the 2 pretty equally in their utility, though their strengths are different.

Oddly enough, the tipping point for me was notifications. Nirvana does not have any, which I was originally ok with as a notification minimalist. However, I found that not having the option made setting up strategic notifications to redirect my attention to time sensitive things was a bit of a handicap.

I actually am still using Nirvana for about 50% of my reference material (the other 50% is in Evernote) since it handles reference lists so well.

The other thing it works very nicely is the someday/maybe category. In all, i still think it's one of the best tools, and definitely reflects a good understanding of GTD.

Hope it works well for you!
 

vino

Registered
Very useful. Thanks for sharing

Even I shifted to Nirvana 3 months back. I like its simplistic approach yet I am struggling with the constant shifting back and forth with evernote to view the attachments and emails.

Still I have not found the sweet spot, working on it any suggestions most welcome.
 
Top