Selecting a tool for GTD - Need tips/inspiration/help

folke123

Registered
Hi guys!

I am working forwards on my journey to implement GTD and I would like to upgrade my system (currently just using .txt files when learning instead of a program)

I am working on a Macbook and an android phone (The tool only needs to work on the Mac/web, I can use the phone just as an inbox)

Stuff I feel like I am missing right now are:
* Recurring tasks
* Setting start dates on tasks (instead of using my calendar as a tickler file)
* Connections between tasks and their projects (and maybe projects and areas of focuses? is that nice?)

There is also the reference materials, which I currently keep in a folder with some subfolders, I guess the tool could maybe help there as well, or that could be another tool in the future (like combining say Asana for "GTD lists" and Evernote for the reference materials)

Since getting active with GTD I've seen tons of tools:
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Todoist
  • Things
  • Nirvana
  • Omnifocus
  • Remember The Milk
  • Evernote/One note
  • Facilethings
  • DevonThink
I guess I could just try everyone? But that would take a lot of time, that is why I am hoping that you guys could help me with a shortcut.

The more popular ones it seems are:
  • Omnifocus
  • Nirvana
  • Things
  • Todoist
Are these all good choices?
Is there a good reason to pick one over the other? (Different strengths perhaps?) or do you have any other tips regarding which tool to pick?
What do you use and are you happy with that tool?
If I should pick 2 and use them for say 2 weeks each, which should I pick?

I am guessing some of the tools might be more complex than others (which could be both good and bad) - I would want more features than my pure text file approach, but I don't want to have to fill in lots of fields and stuff to just add a task, I guess I want to be able, but not be forced to link say a task to its project.
 

sharmon02

Stacey Harmon
I can help you take a dive into understanding if Evernote is the right tool for you with this (free) article I wrote addressing many of your questions specifically for Evernote as your GTD tool. It should also give you some good questions to consider when researching the other tools on your list. Hope it helps!
 

Archetype

Registered
Hi folke123!

Sounds like an exciting time for you to use GTD! I registered for this forum a long time ago and never posted, but after browsing again for the first time in quite a while, I happened to see your post and wanted to put in my two cents for the first time.

I also use a Mac and an Android phone, with my only real requirement that a solution work on my Mac as well as online. While I've never been terribly strict in using GTD, I've been using it on and off for almost 10 years now, and after trying many different approaches, apps, hybrid methodologies, etc., I think I can provide some personal opinions in this area:

Of all the tools that you mentioned, I really can't say enough good things about OmniFocus. It is, in my humble opinion, simply the best GUI app available for implementing GTD. The reason I say that is because it seems to lend itself to do what you've mentioned, namely allowing you to fill in as much or as little task and project detail as you like and get on with using it.

While it's true that any piece of software has some sort of learning curve to get used to, I believe that OmniFocus is user-friendly enough that most people can start using it productively right away, and then maybe consult some other resources online (of which there are many) to explore using OmniFocus in more complex ways. Incidentally, here's a link to a .PDF from the app's developers describing in more detail how one might go about implementing GTD with OmniFocus: https://downloads.omnigroup.com/software/MacOSX/Extras/OmniFocus/GTDandOmniFocus.pdf

One can easily use tags to assign "contexts" to tasks, organize tasks into projects or "action lists," flag items as reminders, and have a tremendous amount of control over those reminders that I've found very difficult to replicate in other programs to the same level of detail, which might help with your desire to better track recurring tasks. You can also easily separate the date that a task is set to start vs. the date that a task is due, which might help you with tracking start dates in a way that doesn't totally rely on using your calendar. OmniFocus also uses a "folding" structure that let's you expand and collapse groups of tasks that you can drag and drop into and out of each other, which really helps with organizing and seeing how your tasks relate to larger groups of tasks, like sub-projects and projects, etc.

There is also a nice calendar view and the ability to review projects one-by-one that leaves you with the feeling that you really do have everything covered. I could go on and on, and I'm sure many people here also have many good things to say about using OmniFocus and are much more knowledgable about all of its feature than I am.

All I can say is that it is well worth the money I paid in the App Store, and since the mobile app is, last time I checked, only available on iOS, it's the only thing that would perhaps one day make me seriously consider getting an iPhone.

The only caveat to my recommendation is that OmniFocus is indeed, in my opinion, the best GUI software for implementing GTD. At the risk of opening up a whole can of worms on the subject, I happen to think that the single absolute best piece of software for use in conjunction with GTD is GNU Emacs's "Org-mode", used as a text-based application in a terminal emulator (like iTerm2 on Mac for example). It's what I've been using for the last few years, but I admit that the learning curve was arduous and I would not recommend it to people who (rightly so) just want a good piece of software to start using right away. OmniFocus is a wonderful piece of software and I can't recommend it highly enough!

I hope this admittedly very biased recommendation might help you in some small way to inform your decision and maybe one day you can update us on what you end-up using and how you like it. Good luck, and here's to many productive days ahead!
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Most apps will handle recurring dates. Todoist can be a good option for someone who mixes platforms (I don’t care what you say- having your lists with you everywhere is very, very helpful). However, it does not offer start dates, and I think It’s a flaw. Nirvana is your other cross platform option. I think it is clunky but workable. Things is elegant, and I use it, but requires discipline to use for GTD. Omnifocus is a big, expensive app which many people struggle with. Version 4 is now in beta, and probably will be a significant improvement. No silver bullet, sorry.
 
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