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Why all GTD Software is broken (for me at least!)

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  • #31
    Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
    I'm the one who sees things differently. I think that the better you are at GTD the less the tool matters.

    It's because the goal is not to do GTD better but to do the most important things in your life better. And GTD is not the most important thing in my life.
    I'm with TesTeq on this. But supergtdman believes he is absolutely clear on what gtd list tool would work best for him. I am reminded of Oscar Wilde: "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” I suggest we agree that some existent software is ok, and it is possible to actually use it to get something done, and we'll look at possibly better software someday, maybe.

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    • #32
      This one is really good.

      I like this strip...

      Keep it simple and do the stuff.
      Attached Files

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      • #33
        Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
        I'm with TesTeq on this. But supergtdman believes he is absolutely clear on what gtd list tool would work best for him. I am reminded of Oscar Wilde: "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” I suggest we agree that some existent software is ok, and it is possible to actually use it to get something done, and we'll look at possibly better software someday, maybe.
        Yeah, actually it is not that hard to have an awesome gtd tool. For me no software is broken, I can do gtd with plan txt files. But without listing the content of my mind map basicslly and in short I want to be able to manage actions and projects with as little effort and resistance as possible. Plus there are some features which I think are important and others are just nice to have.

        I think having a good non actionable data system which syncs with mobile and all platforms and is backed all over the place and is structured really well and etc. etc. is actually a lot harder than a system for tracking actionable items.

        Hey, well at least David Allen agrees with me about the fact the tool matters a lot but only if you know what you are doing
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mt9t...e_gdata_player

        It's like professional sports, for example cycling.
        Sure elite cyclist could ride on cheap bike anywhere but he would not use a cheap bike, he would use the most optimal one because he knows what he is doing.
        But if you don't know how to ride a bike or want the bike to ride itself then it doesn't matter which bike you use

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        • #34
          It occurs to me that many of the features that I most appreciate/want to see implemented are not so much required for doing things, but rather to help me think about my life - ie, for planning and organizing, not for doing per se. So in one sense, yes, these features are just a distraction from actually getting things done. But for me, I consider the planning and organizing to be just as important. To pick a simple example, the ability to organize your list of projects into folders and sub folders is basically irrelevant to doing tasks, requires more time and overhead, and only encourages "fiddling" with the system. And yet, I find it very satisfying to be able to think about the big picture by pondering and "fiddling" with an organized list of projects.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by ccoleman99 View Post
            It occurs to me that many of the features that I most appreciate/want to see implemented are not so much required for doing things, but rather to help me think about my life - ie, for planning and organizing, not for doing per se. .
            Yeah, the devil is in the details.
            One thing I personally like in Omnifocus on iPad is its contexts view in which you can see all your contexts and sub contexts at once and collapse and expand certain contexts. This way you can customize this view really quickly and conveniently to fit your current situation and see all context you can do in a single list and collapse others.
            You don't have to go and check each single context separately or use some convoluted search terms to list for example contextA OR contextB AND NOT contextC.

            It's just one example of a feature which is nothing really special but is very important when you use the system all the time because you want it to be as convenient as possible especially when it comes to checking your context lists.

            There are many other features I really like in Omnifocus like forecast view, repeating projects or actions with as flexible due and start dates as possible, sub contexts, sub projects, review mode and such.
            Now some of those features I find to be essential for me to do GTD comfortably.

            There are lots of apps which do have some very cool features but on the other hand fail at those essential for me features.
            One example is Nozbe, it has evernote and dropbox integration which is cool but Nozbe fails in a lot of other aspects. Sure evernote integration is cool but it isn't even implemented all that well and I can always just use Evernote separately. It's not important to have everything in one app anyway.

            So my point is it's important to really know what you want from your tools, what is important to you and what is just nice to have. If a tool has cool features but lacks essential features then you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by not paying attention to it at all then regardless of how cool it looks.

            Basically it's just common sense - focus on succesfull outcome in terms of what you want from your system and go from there instead of just searching for a cool tool for no real reason and just getting lost in the details. There is no perfect tool, one tool is always going to be a little better at something but it doesn't mean much.
            Last edited by supergtdman; 12-24-2011, 02:08 PM.

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            • #36
              Another thing to consider is switching your platform might be an option if you really can't find a gtd tool with all the features which are essential for you. I'm sure I wouldn't be comfortable with android or windows tablet. I've tried them.

              I look at the OP original post and he lists all the features he would like to have but then also says that it has to be available for Android devices.

              Well one of the reasons that I use iPad and iPhone is because they have the apps that I need. And I'm not talking about gtd apps only obviosly. I don't use a windows tablet or phone, or android tablet or phone just by chance.

              So yeah, if there is nothing available on Android to satisfy your needs and if Android doesn't have anything essential for you which iOS doesn't have then instead of struggling with lacking options maybe consider switching to iOS.

              By listing android as an essential feature you artificially limiting your options. And I doubt there is anything which makes Android really essential.

              I mean if I'm going to list all of the features that I want from a gtd app and then also say that I want it to run on a windows then I'm simply going to be just as out of luck as the OP.

              I think there is also a good reason why David Allen uses custom software built for himself which is based on Lotus notes AFAIK. He uses Blackberry and it's essential to him for security reasons so his desktop app syncs with his Blackberry.
              I mean he is not using iOS or android or windows just by chance either.
              Last edited by supergtdman; 12-24-2011, 12:24 PM.

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              • #37
                Thanks for all the thoughts

                Hi There,

                Thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts. A couple of answers to various people:

                1) yep, if I use the hammer every day, it makes sense to get a good one. Did the same thing with my laptop, did the same thing with my sport shoes, did the same thing when I bought snow tires for my car.

                2) Unfortunately I got the android phone before it occurred to me that it might be handy to sync my GTD system (at the time "Things") with the phone. That's why I have this strange combination. My plan rolls in October, at which point I could get another phone "for cheap" as an incentive to renew my plan with my provider. We'll see what happens then.

                3) Both GetItDone.app and Nozbe are releasing Real Soon Now; GetItDone appears to be a significant overhaul of the interface as well as the sync protocol, Nozbe releases a new version of the Android app. Two chances to get it right. I'm checking their web sites every week or so for activity, in the meantime trucking along with a somewhat simplified version of my ToodleDo setup -- all that investigation was useful in helping me realize how I had overcomplicated ToodleDo by turning on too many options.

                If people are interested I can keep you all posted on developments.

                Oh yeah, HiTask released an alpha Android App that does almost nothing, but at least it shows they are actually working on it!

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                • #38
                  I have found

                  Been through everything you state. i am now with Andriod smartphone and tablet and a Windows Laptop and I find Astrid can do everything I need it to do. Love the recurring and regenetive tasks.

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                  • #39
                    Every moment you spend on GTD software

                    is less time you spend getting things done.

                    Listen to TesTeq

                    " think that the better you are at GTD the less the tool matters.

                    It's because the goal is not to do GTD better but to do the most important things in your life better. And GTD is not the most important thing in my life."

                    and mcogilvie.

                    Pick any software (or Time design which is still pretty good if you like paper), learn how to deal with the limitations, and get stuff done.

                    And do yourself a favor and get the simplest software you can live with.

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                    • #40
                      @ScottL
                      I'd rather say listen to everyone and think for yourself

                      Gtd System is very personal for everyone.

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                      • #41
                        Collaboration Issue

                        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                        @ScottL
                        I'd rather say listen to everyone and think for yourself

                        Gtd System is very personal for everyone.

                        I would have to agree that the personal picadillos (sp?) each of us brings to the software choice probably silently dominates the decision. I've tried at least 5 of the Windows-based programs, and looked at Omnifocus on my son's Mac. Two things seem to influence my choice most powerfully. First, as David Allen notes in "Making It Work," most of the GTD software misses the mark because it is too complicated. I like Toodledo and tried it for a while, but it seems to be less intuitive than I want my GTD software to be. Second, I work in a team. Delegating actions is important. Toodledo has you click on the button in the corner to look at those actions delegated to someone else. I prefer to look at a project and see all actions together. If I want to see all the actions delegated to a team member, I want to have that option, as well. For review purposes, however, seeing the united view is critical for me. Whatever its flaws, Nozbe implements that feature wonderfully. I can easily invite team members to a project and (once they accept the invitation) review all of the actions associated with the project, no matter who is assigned to the task. For group reviews, that is really helpful. I can also look at the lists of actions assigned to any person when I need to just meet with them. FWIW, I also find Nozbe's interface simpler, which makes it easier to get buy in from others working with me. Unfortunately, I have a Windows-based system at work. So, Omnifocus is not an option. I do have an iPad, however, which some have described as a "gateway drug" to migrating to an Apple-based office. For now, though, Nozbe works very well, with its shortcomings posing no serious problems.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                          Why all GTD Software is broken?

                          Because of our unrealistic expectations.

                          You really need an easy to use list manager. Nothing more and nothing less.
                          You are correct about "unrealistic expectations". The tool is just a tool, GTD is our organization. I think the heart of the issue, though, is not people wanting software that thinks for them, but wanting software that doesn't force them to think like the developer. I was never more successful with GTD than back in the old days on Time Design, then on the simple Palm Pilot 3. Paper and Palm 3 didn't do anything other than hold my lists labeled by my contexts. Simple.

                          There are too many inboxes these days for me to rely on a paper system, and I couldn't live without cloud, of-line and mobile access. I've been through a dozen apps and programs over the last few years. I stuck with Google Tasks and Simple Note the longest, because they were the simplest, but the interfaces are weak, and I was never happy with the Android apps. Also, it required two programs to hold notes and task lists.

                          I'm back on Evernote again, and so far loving it. The first time around I found it too complex to be reliable. This time I realized the complexity wasn't Evernote, it was me! Evernote has amazing capabilities, but also amazing potential to implement a simple system. All the interfaces, Client, Web and Android are stable and reliable and as simple as I want them to be.

                          I have 3 notebooks:
                          Inbox (the default to which I email content or add new notes on the fly to be sorted later)
                          Lists (ordered lists)
                          Notes (for bulk items)
                          I'm in the process of combining the Lists and Notes, since tagging enforces order

                          I have about 20 various tags, but the @GTD tag has all my @context tags (@Contact, @Errands, @Someday etc.)
                          The rest of the tags are personal subject areas. Evernote allows multiple tags,so I might have the GTD context "@Errands" and "Build Shed" on a note "File for building permit - town hall" and "@Contact" with "Build Shed" on a note to "Call Rich for help leveling shed site." This method allows me to sort by next actions GTD context and to look at all the tasks I have for my Build Shed project.

                          I'm more hopeful with tis system than I have been in a while.

                          Good luck

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                          • #43
                            The Software?

                            I attended a seminar where David showed us his actual system ... when it was on the Palm desktop!

                            Two reactions at the time - wow is that simple & wow is that complete.

                            It's not the software!

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Mark Jantzen View Post
                              I attended a seminar where David showed us his actual system ... when it was on the Palm desktop!
                              Two reactions at the time - wow is that simple & wow is that complete.
                              It's not the software!
                              Exactly! I've been to the seminar twice. Once on Time Design, before it was even called GTD, and once on the Palm 3. All David had was a calendar and collection of text lists, either paper or electronic. Sure there were tickler files and folder and other hard copy support documents, but his system was just a simple collection of lists.

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                              • #45
                                I find it impossible to use GTD with the wrong tools (if they are sufficiently wrong anyway, such as paper and pen...). It's not that I don't know how to do it, it's the same basic process after all, but I just can't find the motivation. And lack of motivation is as real an obstacle as a brick wall. Fiddling with paper? No thank you.

                                I basically need a smartphone for GTD. Maybe I would have felt differently if they didn't exist, but they do and my motivation is adapted to actual circumstances.

                                Steve Jobs refused to use things if he didn't like the design, including an oxygen mask he needed for his health, possibly his survival (they tricked him into using it). People are different, some are very easy going and would use anything, and others are not.

                                That said, of course perpetually seeking better tools COULD be a symptom that the problem lies elsewhere, like some internal obstacle to using GTD that's unrelated to the tool (but is expressed as perpetual tool-searching), but I think it's better to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they want what they say they do, and help them with that, rather than try to psycho-analyze them to discover what you think they REALLY need.

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