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.
 

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.
 
Last edited:

OF user

Registered
My advice is to pick any tool that you resonate with. They will all do the job. After that, stop watching youtube or stop browsing the net regarding software tools. You will always be drawn to new and shiny. Stick with the tool you choose for at least 30 days. Remember that it just needs to be functional, not fun, and not a solution for everything. Tool switching is a great procrastination exercise. I remember talking to Julie Ireland once (I had done coaching with her on and off) about my system just lacking something. After she talked to me for a bit, she said, "I think you are just bored with the stuff on your lists." She was right. No tool can help you there. Anyway, good luck.
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Remember that it just needs to be functional, not fun, and not a solution for everything. Tool switching is a great procrastination exercise. I remember talking to Julie Ireland once (I had done coaching with her on and off) about my system just lacking something. After she talked to me for a bit, she said, "I think you are just bored with the stuff on your lists." She was right. No tool can help you there. Anyway, good luck.
I also find it helps if tool is visually pleasant. It doesn't need to be pretty or visually customizable, as long as the UI is not awkward or counter-intuitive.

Back in 2008, my role at the company changed (the first of umpteen role changes). I was lucky that Julie spent a half day with me to make sure my system was ready.
 

FocusGuy

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.
I agree with OF user who said "My advice is to pick any tool that you resonate with. They will all do the job"

For me I love Omnifocus. Once you understand how to adapt it to your way of doing stuff it is a great trusty tool for GTD. They are making OF4 which changes are almost in the way it looks like. What I love with OF is it security. Datas are encrypted. Also datas are saved localy and on line if you wish. It is easy to get bach only on task, all a project or even the all saved database. It has links and I encourage you to read DINI if you choose OF4. After testing tons of software, from things, todoist, and Nirvana (which was great too but without any safe) I indeed stick to omnifocus for a professionnal use.
 

Xavier BOEMARE

Registered
Hi @FocusGuy,
My few experiences and advices :
  1. Avoid going to an app that you will need to twist in order to have a proper GTD system. Simple is better. UNLESS you're already using this app, you like it, and you want to "integrate" GTD in it.
  2. The app interface should not be an obstacle, I like the "resonate" term I read earlier in this post.
  3. If you're new to GTD, sometimes GTD dedicated app (Nirvana, FacileThings, etc.) can help you to make the practice an habit, at the beginning.
  4. If you're not full MacOs/iOS environment, I would not go for OF. The MacOs/iOs app is not that expensive, but the web version (so the only way to reach it using Android or Windows) is.
  5. For capture, whatever the method on your android, the less manipulations (clicks, menus, etc.) the better. What you should look for is 1/open the app 2/Add inbox item 3/Write 4/Done
  6. For links between task and project, most of them are doing it, but what you might want to look for is the "next action only view", and it's usually only on dedicated GTD app.
  7. For me, Area of focus is a nice to have. If the app does not provide it, some workarounds might do the trick : folders, tags, nested projects
Also, I would add https://momentum.earth to your list. It's completely different than all the others I know (at least all you mentioned). I know some people really enjoy it.

fyi, I used, a few months each, ToDoist, Nirvana, FacileThings, Toodledo, Nozbe, Get it Done. I'm on OF for a few years now.I did try all the others you mentioned, but the setup did not match my expectations. At least when I tried, for some it was a long time ago.

Hope this help. Good luck !
 

dominiquerobin

Registered
Speaking only for the Inbox/Capture portion of this conversation, I've found great success in using Google Keep specifically because I was already using it so regularly in my life. Here's a screen shot of how I use it daily.
 

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DKPhoto

Registered
To add another to your list there is 2Do (https://www.2doapp.com/) which works on Mac, iOS and Android (no windows or web version though), which I have been using for years.

It has a proper licence (no subscription). The developer is anti-subscription.

It also has List Groups (areas of focus) within which you can put lists, which can contain tasks, projects or checklists (or any combination). Projects can also contain tasks. Lists can be colour coded.

It has recurring tasks and projects, start dates and due dates. Tags for contexts etc (as well as tag groups) which can be applied to Projects Tasks or Checklists. I’m a photographer so use Checklists for the equipment I need to use for each specific job. List Groups, Projects and Checklists can all be expanded or collapsed accordingly.

It has smart lists which I use for next action lists (filter: has tag), and it’s search capabilities are excellent and all searches can be saved as smart lists, which I use for Next Action lists by area of focus (Jobs, Sales, Admin, Health etc).

You can set alarms to alert you before due time or day as well so you shouldn’t miss a deadline nor do you need to use faux due dates and times.

As standard there is an All, Today view, Starred view Scheduled view and Done view and it is very customisable So you can add what you want in terms of lists.

If you want to defer a start date by a week type 7d rather than select in calendar Or select in calendar if you prefer.

There’s also 1, 2, and 3 priority levels (as well as none) if you use them and you can set a duration for each task too.

You can also hide lists (separately) from the All, Today and Scheduled view which is great for Someday/Maybe.

There are various different sync methods (I use Dropbox).

There is an additional cost option for emailing tasks too which requires a bit of setting up but works well (I mostly use it for forwarding emails I need to deal with later).

I was originally an Omnifocus user who switched to ToDoist (no start dates killed it for me) reverted to Omnifocus and eventually settled on 2Do.

What I like about it is as the way I use GTD develops and changes over time 2Do is very easy to adapt to my new way.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
Doug
 

Peter Runner

Registered
Hi @FocusGuy,
My few experiences and advices :
  1. Avoid going to an app that you will need to twist in order to have a proper GTD system. Simple is better. UNLESS you're already using this app, you like it, and you want to "integrate" GTD in it.
  2. The app interface should not be an obstacle, I like the "resonate" term I read earlier in this post.
  3. If you're new to GTD, sometimes GTD dedicated app (Nirvana, FacileThings, etc.) can help you to make the practice an habit, at the beginning.
  4. If you're not full MacOs/iOS environment, I would not go for OF. The MacOs/iOs app is not that expensive, but the web version (so the only way to reach it using Android or Windows) is.
  5. For capture, whatever the method on your android, the less manipulations (clicks, menus, etc.) the better. What you should look for is 1/open the app 2/Add inbox item 3/Write 4/Done
  6. For links between task and project, most of them are doing it, but what you might want to look for is the "next action only view", and it's usually only on dedicated GTD app.
  7. For me, Area of focus is a nice to have. If the app does not provide it, some workarounds might do the trick : folders, tags, nested projects
Also, I would add https://momentum.earth to your list. It's completely different than all the others I know (at least all you mentioned). I know some people really enjoy it.

fyi, I used, a few months each, ToDoist, Nirvana, FacileThings, Toodledo, Nozbe, Get it Done. I'm on OF for a few years now.I did try all the others you mentioned, but the setup did not match my expectations. At least when I tried, for some it was a long time ago.

Hope this help. Good luck !
Xavier,
great advice!

Personally I use Nirvana.
It's simple and works wonder for me.
 

TMac

Registered
To add another to your list there is 2Do (https://www.2doapp.com/) which works on Mac, iOS and Android (no windows or web version though), which I have been using for years.

It has a proper licence (no subscription). The developer is anti-subscription.

It also has List Groups (areas of focus) within which you can put lists, which can contain tasks, projects or checklists (or any combination). Projects can also contain tasks. Lists can be colour coded.

It has recurring tasks and projects, start dates and due dates. Tags for contexts etc (as well as tag groups) which can be applied to Projects Tasks or Checklists. I’m a photographer so use Checklists for the equipment I need to use for each specific job. List Groups, Projects and Checklists can all be expanded or collapsed accordingly.

It has smart lists which I use for next action lists (filter: has tag), and it’s search capabilities are excellent and all searches can be saved as smart lists, which I use for Next Action lists by area of focus (Jobs, Sales, Admin, Health etc).

You can set alarms to alert you before due time or day as well so you shouldn’t miss a deadline nor do you need to use faux due dates and times.

As standard there is an All, Today view, Starred view Scheduled view and Done view and it is very customisable So you can add what you want in terms of lists.

If you want to defer a start date by a week type 7d rather than select in calendar Or select in calendar if you prefer.

There’s also 1, 2, and 3 priority levels (as well as none) if you use them and you can set a duration for each task too.

You can also hide lists (separately) from the All, Today and Scheduled view which is great for Someday/Maybe.

There are various different sync methods (I use Dropbox).

There is an additional cost option for emailing tasks too which requires a bit of setting up but works well (I mostly use it for forwarding emails I need to deal with later).

I was originally an Omnifocus user who switched to ToDoist (no start dates killed it for me) reverted to Omnifocus and eventually settled on 2Do.

What I like about it is as the way I use GTD develops and changes over time 2Do is very easy to adapt to my new way.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
Doug
I loved 2Do primarily because of the start dates. I left the ap when Ios upgraded and 2Do was unable to sync directly to Ios Reminders. I use my iphone as my collection device and the lack of functionality killed it for me. If 2Do ever updates this ability I would switch back in a minute.
 

julie777

Registered
I'd have to say that for now Nirvana is my choice. It is clear and simple to use. It supports the basics of GTD and requires no setup. A tool should help you and at the same time stay out of your way. With Nirvanahq.com and the calendar on your phone you are good to go.
 
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