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GTD system with iPhone partnered with Google, Thunderbird, Toodledo and EverNote

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  • GTD system with iPhone partnered with Google, Thunderbird, Toodledo and EverNote

    Having had much help with integrating my iPhone into my GTD system from people posting on the forums, I thought I'd share what I've ended up using as a way to contribute in return. It took me days of research and setup. Hopefully I can save some of you some of that time.

    I decided I wanted to use open source and low cost applications:

    I travel alot and my only computer is a Windows laptop.


    Thunderbird as a mail client is pretty straight-forward. You can easily create a todo from an e-mail by dragging the e-mail to the task icon. However, there is no iPhone todo app that will pick those up. That's one thing I haven't found a solution for.


    I chose the CalenGoo calendar app because of its excellent user interface and its seemless sync with Google Calendar. It works offline so I can always get to it. Because CalenGoo is not a native iPhone app, it cannot run in the background, which means it won't issue reminders. However, there is a Google sync mechanism with the native iPhone calendar, so I have them set up to sync all three. That way I will get reminders on the iPhone. I also found a Thunderbird/Lightning add-on to sync with Google Calendar. Unfortunately, I cannot have different reminder settings for the different calendars, so if I'm at my keyboard and connected to the Internet, I will get three reminders! (Lightning isn't performing so well with the reminders, though. I find I get reminders after I resume the laptop from sleep, way, way late.) There is offline support for Google Calendar too (see link on calendar page), so you can have access to your calendar on your computer while offline. I have yet to install it, though. I think once I do that, I'll dismantle the Lightning calendar.

    Google Calendar has some great features, I like the ability to have several calendars, distinguished by color. You can turn on and off a calendar. It's great that you can share calendars with others and have theirs appear in yours, again color-coded.

    I travel some, going across time zones. In order for all that to work I find I have to enter meetings etc. with time zones in mind. For example, if I've set the calendar time zone to UK/GMT and I'm scheduling a meeting in Stockholm (GMT+1) I have to enter it as starting one hour earlier. When I get to Stockholm and change the time zone settings, it all gets corrected. Alternatively, I don't change the time zone, but the reminders come at the right time anyway. Either the calendar shouldn't worry about time zones, or you should be able to specify which time zone. (Maybe you can, and I just didn't see that? I'm pretty sure Outlook lets you.)


    Toodledo has constructs for context, folder and goal. I use contexts for contexts (!), goals for projects/desired outcomes, and folders for areas of focus. Contexts are great when choosing what next to do, but I prefer to view the goals when I do my weekly review, and folders (areas of focus) for more infrequent, in-depth reviews. I'm quite happy with Toodledo. The iPhone app works offline, so I can always get to my todo's. I find the "hotlist" useful in keeping an eye on the urgent stuff. The only lack is the inability to turn e-mails into todo's.


    I've set up Google contacts so that they are synced to iPhone contacts and Thunderbird contacts (one way from Google to Thunderbird). Getting the contacts out of Outlook (which I don't use anymore) and into Google was a bit of a nightmare. I first imported them into Outlook Express from where I could create a CSV-export. However, because I had commas in the notes fields here and there, I had to clean up all the data to make it end up in the right columns. I think that if I'd had Thunderbird running on the same machine as my old Outlook, it would have been easier. Once I had a "clean" CSV-file, I could import it into either Google or Thunderbird. The mapping of fields is not an easy one-to-one unfortunately. With names for example, there are Names, First names, Last names, Nicknames and Display names to contend with. Another problem was individuals with more than two e-mail addresses.


    Evernote on the computer works great! The iPhone app is also good, but slow. I miss offline functionality with the iPhone app. You can set a note to be a "favorite", which means it will be available offline, but it requires extra tapping. A way to set notes as favorites by default could work, if no real offline mode is implemented. I use the free version of the online account. Most of my notes I take on my computer and I don't really need them on the iPhone. You can set up "local" notebooks on the computer that aren't synced to the online account. That way you can save on the MB allowance online.

    I think that covers it. I hope it will be useful. I'm all together very pleased with the iPhone. With that and a small notepad and pen, I'm pretty much sorted


  • #2
    Great post! I've ended up with Toodledo and Evernote too, and I'm happy. I am using iCal (mac) for my calendar, but may switch to gcal at some point, so I was interested to read about your calendar set-up. I also feel that with my iPhone and a small notepad, I am very portable.