Nirvana, Things and the addition to switching task managers


I have struggled for a long time with switching task apps. Despite knowing full well that switching tools often not only wastes time, but seldom to never results in increased peace of mind, it seems it is an itch to itchy not to scratch. (Could also be a symptom of my ADHD brain)

Most recently I have been toggling between Things and Nirvana again. (Thought I had to down to two, and then I got my invite to the new Omnifocus 4 beta...

Both Nirvana and Things are great tools and frankly have almost identical workflows. There is only one thing that Nirvana does, that Things does not do, and that is allow for sequential projects. (Which I really seldom use anyway). On the other hand, Things allows me to quickly add tasks and projects via keyboard shortcuts, create sections in the project plans and allows me to link tasks together.

The one thing that Nirvana is "better" at is slowing me down. The way the tool forces me to click on fields in order to set many parameters is a) maddening and b) probably makes it less likely I will put items in the system without thinking it through fully. I don't know if that "friction" is intentional on the part of the developers, or the result of the frustratingly slow updates.

The downside of this friction is I probably leave more things in my head due to the burden of entering them into the system.

Anyway, my intention is to make a decision on one of these tools, commit to using it exclusively for a month, uninstall all other task apps, unsubscribe from the multitude of productivity YouTube channels and email lists and see where I end up. (I feel like I'm entering re-hab ) Anyone else battled with this demon and won? Any tips?


Kelly Forrister | GTD® Coach
Sounds smart to me to watch where your friction is. An extra click, more time to do something you do repetitively, hesitation in getting it out of your head--it all adds up. But as you're astutely observing, you need to balance that with just picking a lane and really committing to it. Trust that you'll know when you'll find the right one. You'll stop thinking about the tool. That's how you'll know it's the one for you.
@ckennedy I have been where you are so many times throughout my GTD career and I suspect that more than a few others here could say the same. I have tried almost every task manager out there (except Things! Hmmm. jk). As Kelly points out, it isn't about the tool, but more about the workflow. I would suggest that instead of trying a new tool for a month that you try it for a year. A month is a good strategy for trying a new tool if you are only doing this occasionally. What helped me was the year time frame: come h*ll or high water, I'm sticking with this until December at least, type thing.


@ckennedy Nirvana allows you to dump items into the Inbox without setting any parameters. You can come back later when you’re ready and able and work through them. Set aside some time each day to go through the Inbox when you can focus on it and not be distracted. That should free you up to to think through each entry, and as you do, add tags or other values. Also, think about the data elements that you will actually use. Nirvana allows you to pick time, energy level etc, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Focus on keeping your usage simple. Dumb it down to the least things that you need to give you the best chance of using the system. Over time you can always integrate more as you gather momentum.