Sunday 2 May 2010

Getting Things Done - Cross Platform GTD

GTD is something I have been aware of for a number of years and only really toyed with it until recently, never really getting over that hurdle. Maybe the hurdle was higher due to the tools I tried or maybe I just didn't put enough effort into setting it up well and using it properly.

Back to today. I use a Mac at home, and Linux and Windows at work (side by side), truely cross platform. I also have an iPhone. I'm going to blog more about general cross platform things at a later date, but here I am concentrating on GTD.

For the last few months I have been using Evernote for GTD. Evernote is not strictly a GTD application, but using its notebooks and tags you can use it for GTD without too much trouble. The best thing about Evernote is it runs on Mac, Windows and iPhone, and syncs to the cloud. Unfortunately I recently decided that the generic features of Evernote don't work well enough for me for GTD. I blogged about hierarchical tagging recently with an example of how Evernote doesn't cut it for what I was using it for.

So I have been looking at other tools. I had heard about Omnifocus and gave the free trial a go. Omnifocus is Mac and iPhone only. With no Mac at work I knew this wouldn't be the solution for me, but wanted to check it out. Omnifocus seems to do everything right and is built for the job, unlike Evernote. Contexts have hierarchies which work just how I want them, you can click on a parent and see all tasks with the child contexts. It also has folders for projects, which also work the same, so useful for projects with sub-projects, or having top level items such as 'Work' and 'Personal'. Another feature of Omnifocus which seems good is the parallel or sequential project types which determine which tasks are actionable. Tasks can have sub tasks, useful if you need to break something down further. Omnifocus doesn't just have the feature set, it has the UX - navigating around the app is great and data entry intuitive. If there was a windows version, or an online version, I would be all over this.

Another Mac only app that gets lots of attention is Things, but for the same reasons it's not for me.

When you run three different operating systems you often end up using web based cloud solutions. There are dozens of Task and GTD based web apps out there. I'll skip through a few I tried for only a few minutes:

  • SimpleGTD - as the name suggests, simple, too simple.
  • TODOIST - still too simple, it has hierachy but it doesn't do anything but indent.
  • Remember the Milk - not a nice UI, not really GTD.
  • Toodledo - Tons of features, horrible to use though.

So I finally ended up at Nirvana, literally, well close anyway. Nirvana is great and appears to be actively developed with new features on the way. It seems designed well for GTD, great looking UI and really nice to use. I am sticking with this for a while. However there are some things that I would like it to do and hopefully the guys will implement them soon.

  • Project hierarchies, like Omnifocus does it. They are working on something along these lines called Areas of Focus.
  • Context hierachies, like Omnifocus does it - this seems less likely based on how it currently works.
  • Actionable tasks - there is the concept of 'Next' but only for non project tasks.
  • Contexts and Projects to show how many items there are in them - I want to see, at a glance, that I have some things to get done at the shops.
  • Project tags - Projects can have tags, but it's only useful for filtering the list of projects, they should work on all the tasks within the project too.

Looks like Nirvana will work for me and hopefully some of the features above will come along soon.

So have I missed anything? Would something else tick all my boxes better than Nirvana?


Štěpán Jůsko said...

Did you tray New version 2.0 is on the way and look very great.

Martin Tyler said...

New version looks promising. Happy to beta test it (if you're part of that is)

Kevin said...

Hey Martin,
I've been using the d-cubed GTD and
hosting it at and like it alot.
The whole javascript wiki in a page with modules makes for alot of flexibility and it should be cross-platform.

-btw Thanks for the heads-up on the Google Comet vid!

Harris said...

I've been using Nirvana as well, due to a windows machine at the office, but I am finding I miss the UI of OmniFocus. Now, if Nirvana could act as a web client for OF, that would be amazing...I've got OF on my Mac, iPhone and iPad, and use them offline a lot - Something I miss in Nirvana. At work I'm on Windows and Blackberry, so while Nirvana is great on the PC, doesn't work on Blackberry...