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

Jzzen

Registered
Using GTD in a more or less conventional way with either Things or OF requires the discipline to first put each item into a project (I’m simplifying here) and then tag it with one or more contexts. Then you have to get the views of your lists that will assist you. Both apps introduce extra friction: Things because it was not built for gtd, but for a master list-daily list approach, and OF because it is just a complicated app. Things is more thoughtfully designed, but OF is the 18-wheeler of GTD apps. Do you really want 16 gears and to double-clutch all the time?
So, what app would you say has less friction when applying the GTD strategy to behave more like an automatic vehicle than than a 16 gear beast?
 

mcogilvie

Registered
So, what app would you say has less friction when applying the GTD strategy to behave more like an automatic vehicle than than a 16 gear beast?
Honestly, every app will give you friction if you want something beyond the minimum requirements Davidco has set forth. You can make any of the best apps look like the old PalmPilot app. But the minute you want links to projects, or a custom sort, or other feature, you will run up against limitations. It’s the Heisenberg uncertainty principle for GTD apps: if an app is good one way, it’s not so good in another.

If you don’t care about start dates and want multi-platform, Todoist. If you want strictish GTD with not-great sorting, Nirvana. If you want the best UI, and an app that plays well with others, Things. Apple Reminders and Microsoft Todo have some dumb features, but some good ones too. Taskpaper is a special case. I like it, but it’s semi-abandonware, date handling is funky, and the byte-level syncing via Dropbox makes me very nervous. Omnifocus is a defensible choice, but it has spawned a small industry of people who will explain how they use it if you give them money, on a scale none of the other apps achieve. There is a reason for this.
 

snfuod

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.

Hi Folke!

They are all good choices. Things and OmniFocus is not on Android, but you seem to be fine with that. I find it handy to have access to the system from any device.

Since you’re new to GTD, Nirvana is probably the easier tool to set up. I find it more aligned with the methodology by design. It works great. Things has the prettiest UI in my opinion. OmniFocus is great too but is easy to get too complicated since it’s very customizable.

Have a go with any of them and see how they feel. As for reference, try an application that aims more towards that. Evernote or OneNote works well for me. There are probably more specific applications too, but I have not had the urge to explore that yet.

Br,

Pontus
 

snfuod

Registered
Using GTD in a more or less conventional way with either Things or OF requires the discipline to first put each item into a project (I’m simplifying here) and then tag it with one or more contexts. Then you have to get the views of your lists that will assist you. Both apps introduce extra friction: Things because it was not built for gtd, but for a master list-daily list approach, and OF because it is just a complicated app. Things is more thoughtfully designed, but OF is the 18-wheeler of GTD apps. Do you really want 16 gears and to double-clutch all the time?

Well put! I second that.
 

FocusGuy

Registered
In my own experience I think that GTD beginners would better begin with paper and pen. Then when the principle a acquired (control and horizon) and want a software it is better to begin with something easy such as Nirvana. Later, most of people needs something more custom. The best is then to switch to something powerfull such as Daylite, Omnifocus or todoist. But then things are getting complicated as you'r buiding your own system step by steps.

In my opinion Omnifocus is not a 16 gears software. It is indeed very simple and fantastic software if you take it right. It can even be use by a beginners. You have 2 main views projects and context, and this is a part of GTD. I have seen a lot of videos on YT, red a lot of settled such as the good one that made DINI and I think that most of people over complicate it.

We have an expression in French "Usine a gaz" it is when someone make something and its result is a true mess :p dont know what is the expression in English...

So, OF is not complicated. People are. Life is also.
OF is easy, simple and efficient if and only if you make it simple according to GTD rules.

What is also crucial to understand is that in low horizons things may be more details and may need some different views (nirvana understood this). Then when you go to highest horizon (H2, H3, H4, H5) it has to be as simple as possible.

Nb : Of course Omnifocus, can also manage Highest horizons but it is not necessary.

I must confess OF took me sometime to make it right. But this was for 2 reasons
1) I was not coached about GTD, I am a self thought,
2) I was traped in the classical mistake of choosing the best software instead of focusing on GTD principe and habits.
3) in consequences I changed to many time of system and lose time and energy.

So I went back to the basics : First fully understand how was working GTD read again all books I had (GTD, ready for anything, Tout accomplir sans effort (Love that one) GTD teen, the GTD workbook (others too) and took each step by step applying what I discovered inside my omnifocus...

In the same time Second : Fully understand omnifocus : I red again the manual, learned the GTD settings (OF2, OF3), red DINI (this was the hardest part and is not finished) and started from scratch my new system as I wanted it to be.

Now, Omnifocus works perfectly. It is almost perfect for me. Simple and efficient. I dont work for my system. My system is working for me.
And I am never stick with anything. Omnifocus is customizable. I still miss some little things I love project view of Nirvana... I love the beauty of Things 3 but I had to make some concessions...

So don't say Omnifocus (or even GTD) is complicated. People mostly are, they over complicate their systems, as I did myself... ;)
 
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Hammer

Registered
Don't forget FacileThings - it is the most GTD focused app I have ran across. Very much "by the book" as far as I can tell. I think it would be perfect for someone trying to get the process down (I have been at it a few years and still appreciate the guard rails FacileThings has to nudge me back in the right direction). It even makes it harder to go out of order when clarifying :)
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Don't forget FacileThings - it is the most GTD focused app I have ran across. Very much "by the book" as far as I can tell. I think it would be perfect for someone trying to get the process down (I have been at it a few years and still appreciate the guard rails FacileThings has to nudge me back in the right direction). It even makes it harder to go out of order when clarifying :)
I suppose. At 12 USD per month or 84 per year, it is on the pricey side, particularly for a web app. It advertises that it connects to services I don’t use, and not the ones I do. I’ve never tried it.
 

FocusGuy

Registered
I suppose. At 12 USD per month or 84 per year, it is on the pricey side, particularly for a web app. It advertises that it connects to services I don’t use, and not the ones I do. I’ve never tried it.
I think that paying per month for a GTD software is incredibly expensive. I won't pay for this (except for my realestate software because I can't do something else). You have some good software you pay once and use a life time. Nirvana, Things, Omnifocus (except if you want the very last update (things and omnifocus) but Omnigroup usually make a 50% discount off if you already own an OF Licence. They also discount for special case (non lucrative companies ? Student ?).

There is also something wich is indeed important about choosing a software it is the assistance. OF team is great. Things to. Nirvana also.
They help and answer fast.
 

Luca

GTD Connect
My suggestion for a GTD® beginner using a Macbook is... Reminders + Notes. Latest versions are really powerful. You can drag your emails from Apple Mail to Reminders and then clarify them on Reminders, you can add tasks using Siri, you can use tags to link Projects and Next Actions, you can also be reminded of a pending Agenda item when messaging someone.
 

Gardener

Registered
So, what app would you say has less friction when applying the GTD strategy to behave more like an automatic vehicle than than a 16 gear beast?

To me, OmniFocus has a core that's really simple: Tasks, which can be stored simultaneously in Project buckets and Context buckets. Done.

Once you start saying, "I really wish I could see JUST the first task for a project," you find that there's a feature for that.

And, "I really wish I could stop searching and store some searches for re-use," you find that there's a feature for that.

And so on, and so on.

I have a similar, "But...but..." reaction when people say that Scrivener has too many features. Yes, it has countless features, but at the core, it's a list of files that you can view and edit with one click instead of two. You don't have to know about anything else until you need it.
 

Jzzen

Registered
Honestly, every app will give you friction if you want something beyond the minimum requirements Davidco has set forth. You can make any of the best apps look like the old PalmPilot app. But the minute you want links to projects, or a custom sort, or other feature, you will run up against limitations. It’s the Heisenberg uncertainty principle for GTD apps: if an app is good one way, it’s not so good in another.

If you don’t care about start dates and want multi-platform, Todoist. If you want strictish GTD with not-great sorting, Nirvana. If you want the best UI, and an app that plays well with others, Things. Apple Reminders and Microsoft Todo have some dumb features, but some good ones too. Taskpaper is a special case. I like it, but it’s semi-abandonware, date handling is funky, and the byte-level syncing via Dropbox makes me very nervous. Omnifocus is a defensible choice, but it has spawned a small industry of people who will explain how they use it if you give them money, on a scale none of the other apps achieve. There is a reason for this.
I think that is a fair analogy of the apps.
I am new to GTD so my main focus is to make the GTD process a habit.
I have chosen to use OmniFocus - it was really between Things and OF. I think Things not having a built in review function was a deal breaker for me. Once I have mastered GTD on OF in a basic manner, i may revisit Things. I will stay away from most of the extra functions in OF for now.
 

Jzzen

Registered
At the beginning of your GTD journey, IMHO, the tool you choose is almost irrelevant. Just build in time to switch a coupla times, as you learn more. Basically your gonna "kiss a lot of frogs" before you find the one that resonates with you. Playing the "ready aim aim aim aim" game will be never-ending, as bright and shiny new apps arrive every day, each of which promise to make your life worth living.
Thanks for this great re-aligning advice.
 

Jzzen

Registered
To me, OmniFocus has a core that's really simple: Tasks, which can be stored simultaneously in Project buckets and Context buckets. Done.

Once you start saying, "I really wish I could see JUST the first task for a project," you find that there's a feature for that.

And, "I really wish I could stop searching and store some searches for re-use," you find that there's a feature for that.

And so on, and so on.

I have a similar, "But...but..." reaction when people say that Scrivener has too many features. Yes, it has countless features, but at the core, it's a list of files that you can view and edit with one click instead of two. You don't have to know about anything else until you need it.
So true!!
Walk, don’t run!!
 

Gardener

Registered
So true!!
Walk, don’t run!!

On another forum, someone was lamenting that Scrivener was too complicated, and that she was only a quarter of the way through the training. My response was, "Training? There's training? No! Ignore the training until you need the features!"

I failed to persuade. I'm guessing she will drop the application eventually because by taking the training, and trying to use features she doesn't need, and embedding those features into her projects, she will have made it too difficult to use.
 

julie777

Registered
After spending many, many hours reviewing at least a dozen tools, I choose to use Nirvana (nirvanahq.com) for the following reasons.
  • supports GTD right out of the box with the features necessary to easily get started with GTD
    • inbox
    • next actions
    • projects
    • waiting for
    • areas
    • contexts
    • scheduling
  • projects support automatically adding the next project action to the next actions list
  • works on web, and multiple devices and OSs
  • intuitive interface
  • recurring tasks (although it can't repeat from completion date)
 
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