The reason I left Toodledo was that I desperately wanted ...... an Inbox
ROFL. Please don't be offended. I fully respect that requirement, but it is so fun looking back at how we ended up where we are now that I want to share an anecdote.
I first heard of GTD probably around 2009 or 2010. And it was on the Toodledo forums. And it was precisely this request I always heard, about the Inbox. I didn't know anything at all about GTD except this - a philosophy built solely around having an Inbox, it seemed
And it was one of the silliest things I had ever heard. I have so many inboxes already (email, SMS, letters, coasters, what have you) - why on earth would I need yet another one in my task app? So my first impression of GTD was distinctly skewed.
Another, similarly hyped, thing was the "inbox zero" concept. Have you ever heard about the gorgeous concept of "two-legged walking"? To me, zero inbox sounded equally intelligent. Stating the obvious and making a big deal about it. How else would I walk, if not on two legs. How else would I manage my email, if not by dealing with it?
Do you want to know what made me notice GTD as late as in 2011, and thereafter quickly go looking for a GTD app? It was when I discovered, on the Toodledo forums, that GTD was cautious with dates, just like I have always been, and which has been something that has always made me feel a bit alienated from the rest of humanity. I felt that maybe here finally I have people of my own kind, and apps to go with it.
I have never really used dates much, except for a brief period in the late 90's when I moved from paper to electronic (Outlook) and found no other way to get my lists in some kind of half-sensible order. Up until then I simply did not use dates, except if they were objective or agreed facts, but never for planning purposes. After my failure with Outlook I became distinctly "anti-date". It gets so messy. You have to keep changing the dates all the time. And (depending on your app) you tend not to be able to see the difference between a "true date" and a "planned date". So I was happy to find GTD, and feel thankful to David Allen every day for taking all the trouble of formulating and promoting a consistent philosophy around this - which increases my chances of eventually getting a good app for it one fine day.
The other big thing I like about GTD is that it uses a process of elimination, something that feels very natural to me, and which I do often in all kinds of situations. The way that GTD, during processing, "eliminates" things that you cannot do now, and sorts them into different piles depending on what the problem is, is exactly how I like to go about it. Things you are not even sure about you put Someday/Maybe. Things that others will do you put in Waiting. Things that will become possible only after certain other things have been completed you put after those other things in a project. And things that you cannot even assess at this stage, only after a certain date, you put in the Tickler file. Brilliant.
What I would wish for, both in GTD itself, and in GTD apps, is the capability to continue using this process of elimination also when checking the Next list for suitable things to do. All apps are geared towards "pick this" filtering. To me that is often totally unnatural and random - except if I specifically want to find tasks to do while on errands or when I have John on the line, but normally it is not like that. I usually have several tags (context requirements, energy requirements etc) that are perfectly possible right now. It feels random and backward to filter for just one in particular, or for several in succession and compare. It is much more natural and easy for me to eliminate all those contexts etc that are clearly unacceptable, and then choose between those that remain.
Anyway, I think I've found the ultimate GTD app: my brain. As long as my lists represent a complete inventory of my commitments I can trust my mind to connect the dots.
I think the implied conclusion may be a bit too far-reaching.
It is absolutely true that the brain can connect the dots. The computer certainly cannot connect any dots for you.
But it may well be a total waste of time to keep re-connecting the same dots over and over. I like to review my stuff, but when I do I prefer to focus on creative things like finding new avenues forward or realizing things that I had forgotten to even list, not on re-understanding things that I had already understood several times but had forgotten.
For example, if you have a little GTD project with tasks such as "Hammer nail into wall", "Climb ladder" and "Raise ladder" it will certainly speed up subsequent reviews if, when you first realize that there is a natural sequence between these tasks, you can arrange the tasks in the right order (or mark their sequential dependency in some other way). It helps you verify that nothing is missing.
Or when, for the first time, you realize that this particular little project can be regarded as a part of a larger project on your list, then it will speed up subsequent reviews if you can make a visible note of this fact somehow, such as by placing them hierarchically.
The initial connection of the dots certainly must be done by the brain. The subsequent repetitive re-connection of those same dots can be sped up significantly by having the adequate means available to support your memory.
As I said in an earlier post, a lot depends on whether you are aiming to manage only your short-term lists, or if you are also trying to keep your longer-term projects and goals in the same app. In the former case, you may not need much much "re-connection assistance" whereas in the latter case, when stuff is going to sit on your list for ages, you could save a lot of time by simply making the lists easier to re-read.
I'm pretty sure you and I aren't going to see eye-to-eye on this.
I agree that it certainly does not seem likely that we will choose teh same approach, and there is nothing wrong in that.
But was perhaps hoping that I had managed to nail down what our differences really boil down to. For example, I do not think that either of us want to make things complicated. We both want "it" as simple as possible in our own minds. "It". I think, to rephrase what I have already said, that maybe the fundamental difference is what "it" is.
If you will pardon a very simplistic description, we just might be able to agree, roughly, that the real difference is whether we prefer a 1-app or a 2-app approach to implementing the lower levels of GTD.
We both have the more immediate (lower level; runway) stuff to deal with, and some recurring ticklers, and maybe a bit more. Then on top of that we may have goals or major projects etc that aim maybe a couple of years into the future. The difference is whether we want two different apps for these "different" things or just one. Both approaches I would say have comparable complexity/simplicity, but in different ways.
The 2-app approach, which I think is what you favor, has the advantage that you can choose apps much more freely for each of these, say Wunderlist for the short-term stuff and Workflowy or Word for the longer-term plans. And that also makes it possible for you to replace one without replacing the other. In principle, this is how I used to do it in the pre-computer days, and I even now sometimes consider perhaps reverting to it. There is nothing wrong with this approach at all. I know it works well. All it takes is a bit of cut-and-paste, and some app switching.
The 1-app approach, which is what I had wrongly assumed we are all looking for, and which I am still trying to use despite the various shortcomings of the now commercially available apps, has the advantage that you organize your short-term stuff immediately by what longer-term purpose it serves, and you can have the longer-term goals etc visible in the same view, say left menu, while you have your day-to-day stuff on the rest of the screen. This give me some mental comfort. And you might save yourself some pasting and app switching, too. You definitely need more functionality to cover all this in one app - fewer apps available. Om the other hand there is only one app to master.
So, there are different pros and cons. I honestly cannot say that one approach is objectively better overall. But what I think I can say with reasonable objectivity is that for the 2-app approach you do not need much in terms of hierarchies etc in the short-term app (and you do not need much automation or tagging etc in the long term-app - probably just some simple hierarchical outlining capabilities), whereas for the 1-app approach both hierarchies and daily capabilities have a most fundamental importance.
Does this description sound roughly correct to you? If so, can we agree that what we disagree about is mainly the preference we have for one approach over the other (1-app or 2-app), not really about which kind of app functionality would be most relevant for either of these two approaches, as these will obviously be different.
bcmyers, I think i am beginning to get the picture. We all have different kinds of difficulties that we need to overcome, and it is always difficult to understand those that have a difficulty with something the we ourselves find totally natural.
For example, I myself have no genuine understanding for problems that other people have with the inbox and bringing it to zero all the time, and I have no problem with reference information not being linked or integrated, or with the absence of reminders and alarm bells and snooze buttons. Others raise hell over such things, whereas I would not even have known it could be a problem to some if they had not mentioned it so often.
In the same way, it seems that you and many others simply feel no need at all for constant reviewing or for keeping the dots connected all the time. You refresh the connections once in a while only, and that's enough to keep you going.
Perhaps that's as far as we can get with this discussion. Maybe our internal wiring is different. Anyway, it does not seem to be anything that lets itself be easily analyzed.
Oh, I might add, though, that in technical (software) terms this discussion essentially boils down to whether hierarchies, such as in Windows and many other kinds of software, should be encouraged or discouraged in GTD apps. It is a relatively simple and common feature elsewhere, but apparently a very infected one in GTD circles.
I actually moved all of my GTD lists to Evernote last night, BTW. Maybe I'll talk about that sometime.
Does that mean the Wunderlist experiment is over? For a digital solution I found Wunderlist to be a pretty good fit to implement GTD on the surface. They have added a lot of great features over time, many of which are available for free. The only issue for me is that I don't need a lot of those features, and to add them, some of the simplicity has gone by the wayside.
Inline editing for example is no longer a major feature, you have to double click on a task and go into the sub-menu. Not a great hardship when you are at the computer, but still gets in the way of flow when you are at work. Similarly, the mobile app looks great, but also lacks speed when you need it most. When you want to quickly enter a task on the move, there doesn't seem to be a way to do it without entering it into whichever context view you are currently in. so if you are in the @errands view, any new task will also get entered @errands which means you won't see them where you necessarily want to see them later. For this I find Doit.im is unmatched for quick capture on the go. The mobile quick add which is launched from the home screen is the fastest and most intuitive I have seen anywhere. It also launches with no lag, unlike the Wunderlist mobile app, which is essential when you are on the road.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Wunderlist suite of products, I just find that it's perhaps losing function in favor of form.
I think the only thing that will wear out your welcome around here is posting often on " why GTD doesn't work " etc .
I've never understood the people that show up and start posting like that .
Not sure why they need to bash a product they don't even use .. oh well .
All that to say , frequent posting is not illegal : )
I've tried wunderlist but the iPhone app seems a little " clunky " to me .