Brandon's Notepad

July 2, 2009

Getting Things Done: Software

Filed under: Computer Software,GTD — Brandon @ 12:27 am
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Home > My Research > Improvement > Getting Things Done > Software

There are a lot of software solutions available for GTD! Some are free, many are not. Some are complex, some are very simple. There are obvious trade-offs between on- and off-line offerings and sometimes the best options are determined by lifestyle (homebody vs jet-setter) and available resources (desktop/laptop, WAN/dial-up, etc.).

Evaluation Criteria

My primary criterion that separates the good GTD implementations from the bad is the software’s ability to assist in managing commitments. In my humble opinion, nothing could be more important. Most apps do not perform well in this regard, and many do not even come close to meeting my high expectations. That doesn’t mean that they are totally useless; however, as stated in my post on Commitment Management, a bad implementation can encourage bad practice and compromise the system.

Of course, the familiar mechanisms of GTD cannot be discounted: context-driven action reminders, a calendar, a tickler file, etc. Notice, though, that these are all tools for organizing. Realistically, no GTD tool is going to replace e-mail, voicemail, physical inboxes and the like for the purposes of collection, and both processing and doing are activities that must necessarily be performed by the practitioner. The (weekly) review is also a human activity, but a good application will assist greatly in keeping the focus of the review on commitments and not on reminders.

The Best

I have a few select favorites that meet most (albeit not all) of the evaluation criteria.

The Rest

The remainder of the apps evaluated will be listed here.

Outlook. I’ve already described by GTD implementation at work above. In the beginning, I tried to use Outlook, primarily because I am limited in what I can install on the work computer (read: nothing). I defined contexts and projects in the Master Category List to apply to Tasks; however, it was just one more place to go look for things. I eventually abandoned Outlook Tasks, though I may revisit them at some later date (someday, maybe).

Thinking Rock. More to come…

What’s Next. What’s Next appeared to be a very clean implementation, but…

The Official Tool

In October 2012, David Allen partnered with Intentional Software to begin work on an official GTD application. According to the press release, this “meta” app will not replace collaborative applications, such as e-mail, but will integrate them.


Between 2006 and 2009, I was a huge fan of Tiddlywiki, and was using it for just about everything (you can read about my experience with it). I believe it deserves special consideration, because several GTD offerings based on this platform were created in that era.

GTDTiddlyWiki. More to come…

GTDTiddlyWiki Plus. More to come…

d-cubed. More to come…

MonkeyGTD / mGSD. I used MonkeyGTD for a short time, but performance and maintenance quickly became critical issues.

tbGTD. More to come…

Command Line Applications

Being a heavy Linux user, I have a special place in my heart for command line utilities. I began my research for this post in 2009 by investigating several CLI implementations, though I have since gravitated toward the GUI and Web-based options above, mainly because I have switched to a phone/tablet environment for day-to-day activities. Basically, all of these utilities are to-do list managers and do not score high based on my evaluation critera:

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