GTD Apps for Mac OS X – A Mega-Update

As we continue to work hard on the GTD Reviews redesign, we feel it’s important to keep our information current and relevant.  Today we’d like to review the apps listed in our Mac App Comparisons page, explain the changes we have indexed, and review what’s new in the world of Mac for GTDers.

The following is a list of all of the apps that are (or were) indexed in the Mac App Comparisons page, and a description of what’s new, and what we’ve changed!

Actiontastic

Actiontastic hasn’t been updated in over three years, so we’re considering it stale and obsolete, and removing it from our index.

Chandler

Chandler was updated as recently as April of 2009, so while it’s been over a year, it still lies within our 2-year standard.  No changes since the introduction of our app comparison pages, however.

EasyTask Manager

Another app that hasn’t seen any new changes on the desktop version, but its most recent update was October of 2009, so it’s far from stale.  In addition, they now have an iPhone app that is at version 1.9, updated as recently as April 23, 2010. Update:  They also have a new iPad app that is at version 1.1.

Midnight Inbox

Now at 1.4.4, updated Feb 22, 2010, though curiously they are very cryptic about what features this update brings, stating: “This update brings bug fixes, speed improvements, and feature enhancements.”  Profound, really.

What is new, however, is an iPad version, which in my opinion looks gorgeous.  We’ll have a functionality report with the new site redesign in the coming weeks.

OmniFocus

While the desktop app hasn’t been updated again since October of last year, we’ve seen several updates to the iPhone app.  This includes the recent major update to version 1.7, specifically for the new iPhone 4 and its “retina display.”

We’re also excited to see the impending release of the OmniFocus for iPad app.  Omnigroup has been very open about the ongoing development of the app, including today’s update on their company’s blog.

TaskPaper

Desktop version is now at 2.2.2, bringing several minor bug fixes and subtle usability updates to the minimalistic app.  In addition, they have released an app compatible with both iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad in recent months that sync nicely with the desktop version.

Things

Now at 1.3.4 as of an update on June 24th, and while the changes are minor, they are many.  Head over to the Cultured Code website for the full release notes.  They also have a well-established iPhone app, and they were one of the first to release an app for the iPad as well.  Here’s a neat introduction video they’ve put together for the new iPad app.

The Hit List

A beautiful, award-winning app that has sparked quite a bit of controversy over its lack of update activity, The Hit List updated to version 0.9.3.19 on April 30th, 2010.  Oddly the only thing updated was the beta expiration date to July 1st of 2010.  While the developer, PotionFactory has been otherwise silent about the development of the app, this at least shows that it hasn’t completely fallen off their radar.

Note also that the much-desired iPhone app was claimed to be under development last December through their twitter account (@thehitlist).  Note in the latest tweet, they linked to a screen cap of the supposed iPhone app, though with no discussion of it since then, many are wondering if this magnificent Mac App is truly dead, or just hibernating?

What’s Next

(link) Hasn’t been updated in over two years, so we’re considering it stale and obsolete as well, and removing it from our comparison pages.

What are we missing?

Okay, I know some of you use a GTD app for mac that we didn’t list here, or in our index.  If that’s the case, please, please, pretty please – comment below or even email me.  We want this to be the one-stop-shop for newbie GTDers looking for the right app for them, and we can’t be that if we’re missing apps!  Thanks, all!

OmniFocus for iPhone Updates to v1.7

OmniFocus 1.7 for iPhoneToday I opened up the App Store on my iPhone 3GS, and was pleased to find a major update for OmniFocus!  The popular GTD app for iPhone and Mac has updated for the new iPhone 4 that is released tomorrow, and for the multitasking abilities of the new iOS 4 from Apple.

All of the artwork for the app has been updated to look great on the new high-resolution “retina display” of the iPhone 4.  A user on the DavidCo.com forums posted a full-resolution screenshot for your viewing pleasure.  The main app icon is also brand new – a nice, fun diversion from its predecessor.

In addition, the new version 1.7 allows OmniFocus to continue some of its core operations in the background, and will suspend the app at any time when switching between apps with iOS 4.

For a full change log, head over to the OmniFocus for iPhone forums, or find the update in the iPhone’s App Store.

Have you updated?  What do you like or dislike about new version 1.7?  Are you running it on the iPhone 4 or an older version?  Comment below!

What Makes a GTD App Great?

GTD ListFrom business professionals to stay-at-home moms, GTD has engulfed itself into the life of thousands of people. It’s a fast-paced methodology because it’s meant to fit seamlessly into your life – regardless of how busy you are or are not.

With that, there are developers out there writing desktop, mobile and web applications for personal productivity – and some directly for the GTD methodology. We have an exciting redesign coming that will launch our reviews of many popular apps, but in the meantime I have been looking over scores of apps and seeing many similarities, and some with pretty strong differences.

That’s not necessarily a surprise of course, but it does make me think of what developers are thinking when they sit down to write their applications. Are they taking into consideration the wave of GTD users, or assuming that most don’t incorporate the GTD methodology completely? It doesn’t really matter what the answer is, because there are strong programs out there regardless of what degree of GTDer and productivity-ninja you are. What I am curious about though, is what you’re looking for.

No really.  What makes a productivity app great to you? Have you thought about it at all? I have. For me there is one thing that matters most.

Flow – Maybe you can’t relate to this, but I live a pretty busy life and have a lot going on. That’s not complaint (there’s never really a need for that), but I say that to make the point that when I’m considering a productivity tool, I’m looking for something that will seamlessly fit into the flow of my existence. Something that I can use on my mobile, and sit down at my laptop and have everything there too.

With that “flow”, the other thing that is synonymous with that topic is ease-of-use. Call me minimalistic, but I don’t think we need to have a seven-step process to do something that can be accomplished in three, for example. So I like it when an app is simple to use too.

Personally, I’m a GTDer, so having it be fully compatible with the GTD system is a must.

So what are you looking for? Do you like the flow I explained? Was there something I didn’t mention that you think is even more important? Maybe you think I’m completely off here – let me know!  GTD Reviews is becoming the voice of what people want out of their productivity apps. That starts with you voicing your opinion.

Becoming a GTD Black Belt

Black Belt - Credit Greta Gabor on FlickrIn our recent review of the GTD Implementation Guide, I made mention of a category of GTDer that is “on their way to black belt,” and I’ve been asked to elaborate on what that means.  My goal in this update is to shed some light on black belt from my perspective, but more importantly share with you some resources that have helped paint the picture of what a GTD black belt looks like.

Black belt in most anything is the highest level of achievement, most commonly recognized in martial-arts.  This is the level at which adapting the styles and techniques of that art has become natural for the individual, and includes an understanding as well.  While the GTD methodology is very different from martial-arts on the surface, the similarities of thought process are astounding.

David Allen describes in the video below just how similar the two are in a visit to the Google campus.  While I strongly recommend watching this entire video, you can skip ahead to 10:52-13:42 (2min 50sec of viewing) for info relevant to this post.

To elaborate on that in a way that made it more easy for me to understand: GTD is not meant to add extra steps.  In fact whether you realize it or not (and most don’t), all of the steps within GTD are steps that you already do, you just naturally do them dramatically less efficiently than your GTD system can do.  I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve thought it too:  “Implementing GTD is unnatural and even a bit uncomfortable, because I have to make a conscious effort to put thoughts into my system, and then take extra time to process and organize and review and do each individual action.”

Exactly.

Now let’s jump back over to martial-arts, taking a look specifically at karate.  Imagine signing up for a class in karate.  In your first few classes, they’ll discuss the thought process and mindset of karate.  Then they move into the implementation of certain basic moves.  At first, as you attempt the moves, they’re completely unnatural, and typically very uncomfortable.  It takes time, practice, and patience for those moves to become more natural and effective in their intended effect, right?

Then you start to get the hang of it.  Your body adjusts, becomes more flexible, stronger, and faster.  The moves become more natural, and you become a force to be reckoned with.  You no longer have to think about each individual move, but instead it’s just a swift flow of movement.  You can automatically react in the most powerful and effective way with these ingrained moves, and you’re now fully in control.

So you can see the picture I’m painting here.

When first implementing GTD, and even for some time, there are several steps that are unnatural and uncomfortable.  It’s also not nearly as effective as most people would like it to be at first.  Why?  Because they know they want to be a black-belt, but their body hasn’t even adjusted yet to be able to do an simple kick effectively.

So what does this mean for you?

Whether you’re brand new to GTD or have been working on your own implementation for a few months to several years, understand that it takes time, practice, and patience to become a black belt.  Just like with karate, if you stick with it through the belts, the end result can be magnificent.  GTD will no longer be an extra thought, but a natural part of  your work-flow that frees up your mind to think creatively about and focus on whatever is important to you.

Resources

To wrap things up on this topic for now, here is a 2-minute audio clip on the DavidCo.com website where David Allen describes what a GTD black-belt looks like.

Here is a post (#2) over on the DavidCo public forums quoting a DavidCo newsletter, detailing out textually the various belts and what each means.  This is a great way to see where you’re at now, and assess goals for reaching the next belt.

Lastly, if you have a GTDConnect membership, you have access to a three-part, four-hour webinar series that they just released called “The Road to Black Belt Webinar Series.”  I’ve listened to the whole thing twice now, and have tightened up ship considerably.  If you’re not a member, they offer a 14-day free trial.

So, GTDers, what belt are you currently?  What are your goals for the future?  Share in the comments below!

Capture Crayons in the Shower

Here on GTDReviews we are in the process of indexing and reviewing all the various applications made for GTDers. A lot of that is in the works, but in the meantime I’ve been reflecting a lot on capturing non-digitally. As I said in my last post, I’m in between phones and just moved to a new computer, so capturing thoughts has been somewhat haphazard lately.

Now before I go on, I realize that thoughts happen all the time (whether you know it or not, you’re mind is always working), and you can capture those thoughts with anything from a napkin to an email to yourself – but my point is that I found myself relying on a capture system for my thoughts with very particular tools, and once I lost that system I felt a little more chaos had entered my life.

But what happens when you’re in a place where a little notebook and pen won’t do you any good? Or you don’t have any digital device capable of recording, sending or saving any thoughts?

That place is the shower of course. My mind races while I’m standing there, starting to wake up, for the first five to ten minutes. I also find myself going in at least 1,000 directions within minutes as I distract myself from actually getting done with my shower, and on with my day. (Although, part of it may very well be the fact that the hot water keeps me from wanting to get out some days too) What’s really annoying is when I have a thought I need to process later, but have no way of capturing it.

I’ve tried lots of things to capture the shower thoughts: writing in the steam on the glass doors, repeating the thought to myself so I wouldn’t forget, etc. etc. But nothing really seemed to work consistently – until I found shower crayons. That’s right, crayons. The Crayola bathtub crayons to be exact. These are great for writing down thoughts on the walls of showers before they escape you. They’re also fun to doodle with.

The only downside is they don’t work too well on wet surfaces of the shower, so I find that one area of the shower wall that stays relatively dry throughout the shower to make my notes on. Another tip, if there’s something you’re trying to work on – perhaps some daily affirmations or goals – use these crayons to write them out when the shower is dry and they’ll stay on any surface fairly well regardless of how wet it gets.

Do you find yourself in that situation where you are in the shower (or bath) and unable to capture a thought? Let’s put our experiences together in the feedback below GTDers, and see what other solutions there are.

The “GTD Implementation Guide” Review

GTD Implementation GuideSince the $20 GTD Implementation Guide was released a week ago, we’ve been wondering what role it serves for new and veteran GTDers alike.  Fortunately, I have recently been feeling quite a bit out of control after getting married, moving, and I had yet to fully re-implement GTD.  So I started from scratch using the guide to walk me through the process.  In this review, I’ll share what it will do for you – and what it won’t do.

The Review

After purchasing the guide (here, not an affiliate link), I received an email with a link to the download.  The PDF is less than 1MB, so it doesn’t take but a few seconds until the download is finished.

What it Does

After a page full of legal references to copyright and trademarks, the table of contents, and an introduction similar to what’s on the product purchase page, the guide begins with a section on “Getting Started.”  Each section begins by detailing the amount of time it will likely take you to follow the section completely.  It then starts by outlining the major steps of that section, so you have a good idea of what you’re going to need to do should you choose to tackle that section now.

On the following page, we start with step one of the first section – in this case the “Getting Started” section.  The guide describes the amount of time this specific step should take.  It then breaks the steps down into very detailed action items.  Each is described very concisely – there is certainly not an ounce of fluff or filler content.  This is very much an straight-to-the point guide.

It’s made very clear that you should avoid stopping in the middle of the step.  Preparation is key.  In fact, the entire “Getting Started” section is about making sure you’ve equipped yourself with the time and the physical resources to capture, decide on, organize, review, and act on everything that has your attention.  This was incredibly useful to me, as too many times when attempting to get back on track, I’ve attempted to do so without all of the proper tools.

On each page, there is a relevant tip for that particular step that I found very helpful.  I’ve found many of the little tips and suggestions can help avoid big mistakes when walking through the guide.  For example, in the section on setting up your work area, it provides this tip:

Tip: Setting Up Your Workspace

Don’t share your work area with family members or colleagues.

In addition to these, the guide ends with articles by David Allen on getting email under control, general reference filing, and what is essentially a FAQs section.  These truly fill in the blanks when it comes to walking through the guide, as you’ll find the basic steps don’t necessarily capture every aspect of your workflow.

What it Doesn’t Do

While this guide is very specific and thorough on what to do, this will not teach you the thought process behind it – nor does it claim to.  You will also have to search for related resources, like a trigger list to assist your mind sweep in the capture phase, or suggestions on specifically how to put together your list management system, whether digital or analog.

For these things, you’ve got David Allen’s three books:  Getting Things Done, Making It All Work, and Ready For Anything (although they were not written in that order, that’s the order I recommend reading them in).  In addition, the company offers a subscription-based membership to what’s called “GTD Connect.”  This gives you access to whitepapers, discussion forums with GTD Coaches and other veteran GTDers, multimedia downloads, various guides similar to this one (only they tend to be shorter and for a more specific part of the GTD process), etc.

Also, feel free to visit us often for discussion on implementation, and the various tools that become available.  We’ll be adding reviews and comparisons for software and apps on all major platforms with our upcoming redesign this summer, including iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc.  You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

Who Should Purchase This Guide

If you’re still reading this article, the most likely question going through your mind is, “Should I buy this, or shouldn’t I?”  That depends, and not on the factors you may think.  Whether you’ve been using GTD for years or are just now considering trying to use it in your workflow, I highly recommend purchasing this guide if you fit one of two categories:

1)  I’ve been using GTD for a long time, but I feel like I’m missing some aspect of it and I’m having trouble trusting my system.

For you, this guide is a very brief and concise way to run through the entire methodology to see what you’re missing.  For me, I discovered that I find myself too often without a capture tool.  I also need to have a more attractive and easy-to-use physical reference system.  I didn’t have to skim through over a hundred pages of text to find that once piece of the pie – it’s all here in this 43-page guide.  I see myself coming back to this guide again and again in the future as a checklist to make sure I’m staying on track.

2)  I’m considering implementing GTD into my workflow, and the book makes it seem overwhelming.

The book plays a vital role in helping you understand the how-to and the thought process of each individual piece of the GTD methodology.  I highly recommend reading it through at least twice before implementing GTD, because understanding the “why” about certain actions will eliminate much of the mental resistance to doing them consistently, allowing you to stay “on” longer.

Once you’ve read it, and have a general understanding of the “why”, this is a fantastically simple but thorough guide to help you get on and stay on.  Beyond that, it will be an ongoing aid for those times that you feel things are falling through the cracks.

That said, if you’re on your way to “black belt,” and are looking for a few tweaks here and there to put you over the edge and master “mind like water”, this guide is not going to introduce you to anything new or revelatory.  If anything it can be a trigger to dive deeper into a specific part of the implementation, but nothing more.

For help with tweaks and adjustments with your implementation – and for fine-tuning – I recommend trying out GTD Connect (disclosure: I am a member, but in no way profit by you becoming one.  There is a 14-day free trial) and seeing if someone has asked a similar question that’s been fielded by the DavidCo staff.  If not, use a trial to ask a question and see if you perceive value in the responses you get.  I definitely have.

If you have further questions or feedback on David Allen Company’s new GTD Implementation Guide, or aren’t quite sure if it’s worth purchasing, feel free to email me, or comment below.  Also, this probably goes without saying, but I’m sure the staff at DavidCo wouldn’t mind answering your questions as well.

Coming This Week: The “GTD Implementation Guide” Review!

Image Courtesy GTDTimes.comWe’ve downloaded the full GTD Implementation Guide and we’re excitedly pouring through this new resource.  The goal?  Determine its place and relevance in the implementation of GTD for newbies, as well as assisting current GTDers stay on top of their game.

If you’ve come to GTDReviews in search of such a review, thank you for stopping by!  Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed, or visit us later this week for the full review.

Don’t forget, your feedback is vital to the ongoing development for the future GTDReviews.com, set to roll out this summer!  You can use our simple Feedback Form, or email me directly.  I’d love to hear from you and get to know you, as well as finding out how GTDReviews can meet your needs and keep you clear on your pursuit of “mind like water.”