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  • Struggling with GTD - Lack of Apps/Tools I like

    I've been trying GTD for a while, and it has worked to a certain extent. Now I find myself having certain expectations that I am unable to fulfill due to the programs I use.

    Most of what I do it on the computer. Whatever I get in paper is filed by projects, or general contexts like receipt/bills. Doing things on paper is pretty much okay. However I am really struggling with the digital bit.

    I'm on Windows and the lack of bearable applications is astounding to me. My criteria is that I want to have an application that syncs with my iPhone, mostly the next actions lists and inbox functionality. Inbox functionality is not even that important since I write most things down on paper.

    What I am feeling is that most applications have a tendency to be overly complex, annoying to use or simply has an interface that makes me want to vomit. This might be because they are all Windows-based applications since I haven't seen the same annoyance with Mac-based apps.

    However I have come to the point where I am not satisfied with any of the "task-based" applications, and have spent so much time (and money) and getting nothing back in return.

    I've tried Toodledo, Todo (for iOS), setting up Outlook 2007 with the GTD system and tried to sync that with the rest. Evernote had promise until I found out that the iOS-apps does not show stacked notebooks.

    My needs are really easy. I have a few projects going:
    • Writing a book
    • Studying Design
    • X-mas shopping
    • Learning Korean
    • Creating a personal website

    Most, if not everything there can be handled on the computer. I don't need some overly complex program to put these into a project format and then create the outcome and next actions lists that are based on context. But every step of the way I feel that I am fighting with the program that should make my life easier.

    Email is okay. Using IMAP my iPhone and Outlook can talk happily with each other, and I just archive emails in a hierachy in Outlook. Calendar is also easily, using iCloud I place reminders and get them on my phone, I don't need anything else.

    It is the projects and next actions lists I am struggling with specifically. I do not have anything that I can call a trusted system. It is the combination of those two, and a lack of a decent program ala OmniFocus on Windows which makes me sad, really sad.

    I'm at the point where I actually feel like giving up GTD. Learned a lot from it, made me change a lot of habits, and although it is very promising it just really sucks (excuse my French) spending a lot of time, energy and getting frustrated over the lack of a okay workflow.

  • #2
    Have you tried Nozbe?

    I also work on PC's and have an iPhone and an iPad. I tried a number of PC GTD solutions and many ios apps and settled on Nozbe. I didn't like the costs at all for the apps- must by seperate ones for iPhone and iPad- and yearly service, but as they say you get what you pay for. It was set up with GTD in mind, has a great user interface, is very flexible, syncs across all platforms, and links with Evernote and Dropbox. Give it a try. Good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      My advice is to blow off outlook for everything but email.
      Use toodledo for web and iOS. Toodledo can be tarted up
      or stripped down. If you can't make it work at all for you,
      then I don't really know what to say.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
        My advice is to blow off outlook for everything but email.
        Use toodledo for web and iOS. Toodledo can be tarted up
        or stripped down. If you can't make it work at all for you,
        then I don't really know what to say.
        One issue with Toodledo: The Windows clients are annoying to me. I know that sounds really superficial (probably is), but if one does not like a system it messes up the whole idea with GTD.

        Using the browser would just be for emergencies, web-based programs are usually slow and I do not have the best connection these days.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Plantsman View Post
          I also work on PC's and have an iPhone and an iPad. I tried a number of PC GTD solutions and many ios apps and settled on Nozbe. I didn't like the costs at all for the apps- must by seperate ones for iPhone and iPad- and yearly service, but as they say you get what you pay for. It was set up with GTD in mind, has a great user interface, is very flexible, syncs across all platforms, and links with Evernote and Dropbox. Give it a try. Good luck!
          This actually looks like a good solution, paying a yearly subscription is not out of my league, so I do not mind that at all. Especially since it has 60-days money back guarantee. I'll try it.

          An additional question: Has anyone tried GTD using only the iPad and OmniFocus?

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes

            Originally posted by theilluminated View Post
            This actually looks like a good solution, paying a yearly subscription is not out of my league, so I do not mind that at all. Especially since it has 60-days money back guarantee. I'll try it.

            An additional question: Has anyone tried GTD using only the iPad and OmniFocus?
            I'm a PC user that used the Outlook add-in for many, many years. About 3 months ago, I switch my GTD system over to Omnifocus on the iPad. I couldn't be more thrilled with it! I believe they offer a 30-day free trial still...you may want to just download the app and play with it. Customer service is fabulous and will answer any questions you may have.

            I still use my Outlook calendar, contacts and email. It's no big deal to just use OF for my task lists. I just keep my iPad open on my desk and swivel to it if I need something.

            And, btw, I'm in my 10th-year of doing GTD and can't imagine my life without it--even if I went to paper. It's not about the tool, really it isn't.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks Barb!

              Can I ask how you go about the Natural Planning Model? I don't have an iPad, but I have wanted one for a very, very long time. If OmniFocus is that good I'll just have to get one, being so portable that I could take my projects with me everywhere!

              Comment


              • #8
                Tried Nozbe for ten minutes, looks very promising but it has one deal-breaker for me. Not able to create sub-tasks or sub-projects.

                In my Studying Design project I have to do the following:
                Learn:
                1. Adobe Photoshop
                2. Adobe InDesign
                3. Adobe Illustrator
                They could be primary tasks or sub-projects under Projects list. Under them I need:
                • Lynda.com Course: Adobe InDesign Essentials
                • Lynda.com Course: Illustrator One-on-One

                Under that again I would have each chapter of the course listed so I know where I got off each time. Without having that hierarchy the system is not good enough for my need. Really starting to feel like the person in the Princess and the Pea here...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Tools and planning

                  Originally posted by theilluminated View Post
                  Thanks Barb!

                  Can I ask how you go about the Natural Planning Model? I don't have an iPad, but I have wanted one for a very, very long time. If OmniFocus is that good I'll just have to get one, being so portable that I could take my projects with me everywhere!
                  I know some people plan every project and load all possible actions as far as they can see into the future into their system--regardless of what that system is, but I keep my system lean and clean so it doesn't repel me. When I have complex projects, I plan them using Mindmaps and load only those tasks that are not dependent on OTHER tasks being done first. So a project might have a few @computer items, a few@errands and so on and so on...but I stay on top of the overall project by doing Weekly (and I do mean WEEKLY) reviews.

                  GTD is really more about using your tool as a placeholder to help you remember where you left off in a project--you might find you like it better if you don't try to load up everything you're going to do in every context for the next year into your system. Others may disagree with me, but I keep project plans separate from my system until I'm actually ready to think about DOING those individual tasks.

                  Hope that helps. And hope you'll treat yourself to that iPad. I never dreamed I'd use it as much as I do or that it would be as cool as it is!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Can't agree more with Barb. I used to "load up" as many of my next actions as possible in my Projects. It become unwieldy. It's amazing how, now, I can do minimum advance planning and just flow with the system, completing one NA and then easily capturing the very next action after that - all the way through to completion.

                    PS: I also LOVE my iPad!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by theilluminated View Post
                      Thanks Barb!

                      Can I ask how you go about the Natural Planning Model? I don't have an iPad, but I have wanted one for a very, very long time. If OmniFocus is that good I'll just have to get one, being so portable that I could take my projects with me everywhere!
                      By "very, very long time" I assume you mean some sort of Internet time where in 18 months products are born, live and die, like the case of, uh, what was that HP tablet called again? Unless of course you have lusted after a Dynabook for decades...

                      Two caveats about Omnifocus and the iPad (and I use them too): Most people are using the iPad version with a desktop, and also Barb is very familiar with GTD. Your mileage may vary.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I use ActionList on my iPhone. It syncs with toodledo.
                        You might also want to look at Listmaker. Very simple app.
                        Omnifocus is way out of my budget. ($100 for the Mac & iPhone app) 😖

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Doit.im

                          Doit.im is a really nice free multi-device system. I've been doing some reviews for my needs, which device-wise are Android and Mac. I'm kind of the opposite to you with Windows and IPhone, as most seem to be iphone and mac.

                          Here's the review http://tomphilip.me/index.php/gtd-app-review-doit-im/

                          It doesn't have sub-tasks again but I've found that most don't (Toodledo being the exception).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Time moves so fast that I did not even think it has only been about 18 months since the iPad was launched! Went back into the thinking box and decided to do this a little more gradually. Instead of looking for a system with perfection in mind I will find one that is good enough for the moment.

                            While I yearn for doing several projects simultaneously it is not that extremely important just yet, so I can create a system that is good enough for two, at most three projects. My bet is that having an iPad with OmniFocus would actually solve my issues and create the system I want. However that money may be needed to fund a Macbook Air (for the graphics design study) since I do not have a laptop, though I will have OmniFocus loaded on it anyway.

                            TLDR/Conclusion;
                            Decided to go with a basic system for present needs, not investing heavily before I get either the iPad or MBA with OmniFocus.

                            Simply play around the system, keep it fun and not be so serious where perfection is a need. Sometimes I take things too seriously, this seems to be one of them!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by theilluminated View Post
                              I've been trying GTD for a while, and it has worked to a certain extent. Now I find myself having certain expectations that I am unable to fulfill due to the programs I use.

                              Most of what I do it on the computer. Whatever I get in paper is filed by projects, or general contexts like receipt/bills. Doing things on paper is pretty much okay. However I am really struggling with the digital bit.

                              I'm on Windows and the lack of bearable applications is astounding to me. My criteria is that I want to have an application that syncs with my iPhone, mostly the next actions lists and inbox functionality. Inbox functionality is not even that important since I write most things down on paper.

                              What I am feeling is that most applications have a tendency to be overly complex, annoying to use or simply has an interface that makes me want to vomit. This might be because they are all Windows-based applications since I haven't seen the same annoyance with Mac-based apps.

                              However I have come to the point where I am not satisfied with any of the "task-based" applications, and have spent so much time (and money) and getting nothing back in return.

                              I've tried Toodledo, Todo (for iOS), setting up Outlook 2007 with the GTD system and tried to sync that with the rest. Evernote had promise until I found out that the iOS-apps does not show stacked notebooks.

                              My needs are really easy. I have a few projects going:
                              • Writing a book
                              • Studying Design
                              • X-mas shopping
                              • Learning Korean
                              • Creating a personal website

                              Most, if not everything there can be handled on the computer. I don't need some overly complex program to put these into a project format and then create the outcome and next actions lists that are based on context. But every step of the way I feel that I am fighting with the program that should make my life easier.

                              Email is okay. Using IMAP my iPhone and Outlook can talk happily with each other, and I just archive emails in a hierachy in Outlook. Calendar is also easily, using iCloud I place reminders and get them on my phone, I don't need anything else.

                              It is the projects and next actions lists I am struggling with specifically. I do not have anything that I can call a trusted system. It is the combination of those two, and a lack of a decent program ala OmniFocus on Windows which makes me sad, really sad.

                              I'm at the point where I actually feel like giving up GTD. Learned a lot from it, made me change a lot of habits, and although it is very promising it just really sucks (excuse my French) spending a lot of time, energy and getting frustrated over the lack of a okay workflow.
                              I think what you should need is proper time allocation. If you say that you don't have the things you need, why don't you invest time to find for them? I'm not that techy, but what I can say is that if you needed to do those things listed, you should buy some time for preparing what you really need.

                              Comment

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