Which list manager should I use for GTD?

One of the most common questions we hear from GTDers is which list manager they should use. You’ve heard from us on this in loads of webinars, podcasts, articles and blog posts. We thought we would pass along a fellow GTDers comment to someone on our Forums, which we thought was great advice, especially for someone new to GTD:

Buy the new GTD Implementation Guide in PDF, and David’s first book. Read them carefully and use paper for a

GTD System



6 Responses to “Which list manager should I use for GTD?”

  1. Todd V says:

    Very good advice. David Allen’s book _Getting Things Done_ was deliberately written with a focus on principles so people could apply them to their unique workflows and identify the tools most appropriate for their own needs. Tools will change, but the principles do not. The book, therefore, is worth revisiting over and over again.

    It’s also a good idea to get a set of David Allen’s well-made—and very useful—GTD System File Folders. For the beginner, especially, having to define and physically identify where things go reinforces learning GTD in ways that faster, digital methods do not.

  2. Braden says:

    I completely agree with this. So much of my life is digital that I can’t function for very long with a pure paper based system but after trying about 30 of the leading (free) web-based, desktop-based, windows-based, java-based, and mac-based list managers and being very disappointed, I went with a 500 page college-ruled notebook. Certainly not stylish or impressive (it was blue with a cardboard back and I believe it cost ~$1.50) but very useful. I only used it for about a month because I used up all 500 pages (tore them out after they were full)! But I learned more practical common sense about how to implement GTD in that month than the previous year.

  3. Aaron says:

    Good advice, but the post doesn’t quite live up to its title.

  4. Chip Joyce says:

    As someone who is self-taught in GTD, I cannot overstate my suggestion to use paper first. GTD has a pretty steep learning curve, and you are fundamentally changing your habits. Learning new software simultaneously will make it an order of magnitude more confusing, and you will most likely not trust your lists. You’ll have this unfamiliar software holding everything important, and you’ll feel stress every time you access it. I think this is a major reason why GTD doesn’t stick with a lot of people.

    Furthermore, not until you have established a working paper system, and you refine it to fit your life in particular, you do not have the knowledge to make an informed decision about specific software. Once you have your paper system, you look at software appropriately: which application will let me work my lists the way I need them to work?

    (Note on my person experience: I immediately bought Omnifocus and crashed and burned twice trying to set up a GTD system. Then I blamed the software and bought Things. That didn’t work, either. A then went to third application, and that didn’t work. So I reluctantly went to paper–and got it. Eventually, I returned to Omnifocus and it was, in fact, amazingly good software. I just didn’t know what I was doing until I learned on paper, first.

  5. sumeet says:

    Hi fellow GTD’ers

    My system of GTD is on Blackberry 9000 bold and Outlook 2003:

    I use BlackBerry Task Pro!
    Version : 1.0.711061 on the blackberry; its a great list manager; have bought ther registered version, it doesn’t cost much

    And with my my outlook I use GTD outlook addin

    Great part is, I can straight away create tasks from out emails on the blackberry, which I can sort contect wise; this gets synced to my tasks pane in outlook

    Also whatever Tasks I put on to outlook get synced in to blackberry

    Only slight pain is that the tasks on next action pro can’t be sorted project wise; however I can see a list of all my projects on blackberry

    Would strongly recommend the above combo to make your GTD work; it sure works great for me !!

  6. gsc gtd says:

    For me I personally use GSC-GTD. It’s a todo list for my Android device (currently I use Nexus S) but is compatible with other Android devices. I also have it installed on my 7″ Android tablet.

    What I personally like about GSC-GTD is the concept of main tabs and sub tabs that are both visible on the screen. I don’t have to click on a dropdown list to see what categories I have. Also I just click a main tab, by the way, GSC-GTD consists of 6 main tabs (“Calendar”, “Next Actions”, “Waiting For”, “Projects”, “Someday/Maybe”, and “References”. Now, these main tabs when you click on it, the sub tabs (located on the right side of my device screen in a true planner tab fashion) quickly changes and shows the sub tabs for, i.e., “Next Actions”. Right now I have sub tabs At Home, Outside, At Work, In Front Of Computer in my “Next Actions” main tab.

    PS: I might be biased in promoting GSC-GTD because I designed this Android app myself. But before I designed it I was an avid follower of getting things done methodology on paper. Then I turned to digital using other GTD apps and Tasks lists Apps for Android until I came up with my own design.

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