How important are the tools you use with GTD?

For those of you who are still grappling with questions about the tools you use for GTD, check out this 2 minute video from David Allen:


For more GTD videos, check out GTD Connect, our online learning center. You’ll find nearly 100 Videos on GTD Connect, from “2 Minutes with David Allen” clips to replays of our monthly Webinar classes.

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  1. Coach Kelly here–hopefully you can appreciate the essence of this video with my shaking hand! Sorry about that. It was taken on the fly when I didn’t have my tripod. It was too good to not post. Enjoy.

  2. Great! Nothing brings me to GTDTimes quicker than a podcast or video.

    Important to keep tools as tools, and the best tool is one you use. My company recently made tech changes that forced me to use an iPod Touch and ditch my beloved Palm T|X. Sure, it meant all new software, formats, etc., but lists are lists. After experimenting with a few apps, I picked a combo that now provides even a little more that what I had before and I’m now running just as smoothly.

    One key: If you’re just starting GTD, use whatever tools you’ve been using at first. Learning new tools while grasping a new methodology is too great a cognitive load and you’ll avoid your system.

  3. No worries Kelly! And it’s an excellent reminder that it’s not about the tools, it’s about how you conceptualize your work/stuff. The tools can’t really help if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is one reason I think it’s great that David doesn’t make a big deal about which tool he prefers, and looking at the top staff at the company, you guys all use _different_ tools. There’s a lesson there.

  4. Good video! Thanks a lot!

    If asked, i’d probably advice for doing it on paper (as a tool) its just about managing lists, paper is really all you need.

    Also paper doesn’t need batteries, a clear advantage.

    However and in contrary to what i’d advice, i for myself didn’t start it on paper and apart of other reasons this is probably the main reason why it took me a struggling 3 years (and a couple of tools) to implement GTD for me.

    Today i use a tool which implements the GTD workflow very strict and forces me to look at the commitments i manage with it through the GTD glasses regarding what really matters to me and what my expectations are.

    The best aspect of it is probably that it requires me to decide what is supposed to be the immediate next action before it even allows me to file a new project. That forces me to evaluate the input items with an outcome oriented thinking style.

    Another clear advantage of it is that it allows me to feed my eMail inbox into the inbox of the tool which is just great cause most input i have to deal with these times comes through eMail which makes it just so tempting to use the eMail inbox for GTD which in my case always failed miserably.

    My experience with tools was always that as long as i wasn’t applying an outcome oriented thinking style to the stuff that was coming in and to the stuff that was already in, i constantly failed with whatever tool i tried to get along.

    Being able to evaluate commitments in an outcome oriented fashion is a skill (which must be developed) rather than a tool’s feature.

    I had to learn this.


  5. @Kelly

    No worries about the shaking. It makes the video more natural and “real”. It’s not the quality of the video that is important; it’s the content. The message is clear and real!

  6. Mark,

    I too am moving through the stages of denial, anger, and grief over the death of Palm OS. I won’t be getting an I-Phone any time soon, but this is the first I’ve heard about an I-Touch as a possible solution. Would you be willing share which are the apps you used that helped you make the transition?

    Thanks from a fellow grieving soon-to-be-former Palm user.

  7. Mark wrote: “Nothing brings me to GTDTimes quicker than a podcast or video.”

    Same here. Keep ’em coming, Kelly. I was too focused on the content to notice any problem with the video. Thanks.

  8. I love this quick ‘grab’ of David – it’s a great reminder to me why people keep getting into ‘trouble’ and giving up. The phrase that keeps coming to mind for me having just completed a massive GTD sort out is ‘good bones’… if yoour system has good bones (or tools) you’ll be able to always catch up quickly from those out of control periods. The fewer capture tools we have and the least complicated they are the more things will get done! Thanks.

  9. I understand that David wants to give you his thinking on the methodolgy, but I really enjoyed reading his paper on why he used Palm and how. Sometimes the theroy can get annoying and it would be helpful to just hear what David is using and how. I feel the video needed more substance.

  10. This morning, two minutes was all I could spare, and it was so worth it to watch this video that I had to take another two (or three) to comment. Totally agree with the comments on the content not so much the quality of the video being important. It felt very natural, very BTW this is also important, “Grasshopper”. I think one element we might be forgetting that was a big turn on when I read and continue to listen to the audio recordings of both books over and over, and that’s the “FUN” factor in implementing tools. I think I’ve stumbled on to the best system “for me”. I don’t dread adding another quick item to the list to determine later what it means to me. It just goes on the list. I know I’m going to think about it later. And my system then provides me with a fun format to do that kind of thinking with. So I actually look forward to the “thinking what it all means to me” time. It’s so true what David says about the more you’re into GTD, the more the tools matter. However, committing to a system that demands anything more from you than dropping something in there when it comes up, I think is a mistake. Capturing should remain just that. Use the KISS principle, and make it fun. There, that’s my two minutes.

  11. After using GTD on my Franklin Planner then my Palm with both “ThoughtManager” and “Llamagraphics”; then trying it with MindManager (and ResultsManager); then trying to just use Outlook with the GTD Add-in; I realize that I have thought that the right tool would be the answer …
    As David points out, it is the process! A commitment to the process is the key. I believe I could have been more productive with any of the tools if I had just stuck with one and committed to the process.
    To you GTDers: Don’t repeat my mistake!

  12. Pete, I could not agree with you more on this, some of us are always searching and tweaking our systems in search of the holy gtd grail and once we settle down we realize what you’re saying, I’ve not settled on the Blackberry and TodoMatrix and IdeaMatrix from RexWireless and its top notch with a web based 100% synchronization. I use Outlook 2007 calendar for hard landscape events fully sync to my Blackberry over ms exchange.

    C’est fini as the french say

  13. I can highly recommend MLO (MyLifeOriganised) It is based on the GTD principles, and I love the way it allows you to add contexts to tasks, so you only see the tasks which are relevant at the time.

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