GTD Revisited

Adapting my Getting Things Done-based productivity system from a Palm TX to the new iPod Touch has been something of an adventure in itself.

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a remarkable productivity system when used properly, but I haven’t been using it properly. Three times in the past few years, I’d start using it properly, but then I’d get deeply into a project and skip my reviews for a few weeks, and the next thing I know I’ve fallen back to relying on my Palm’s calendar alarms and to-do lists to keep up with important things like taxes and bills, and my computer’s desktop is covered with disorganized little electronic sticky-notes for things I want to remember. The GTD stuff is left by the wayside.

The Touch’s audible alarms are extremely quiet. Far too quiet to hear them when I’m out and about, in fact. It was obvious after a couple days of using it that my old method of relying on calendar alarms and to-do lists wasn’t going to suffice. It was time to try GTD again, and to keep it up this time.

After reviewing the system, the first thing I did was look at the most recent incarnation of MonkeyGTD (a TiddlyWiki-based GTD system that I’ve mentioned before). It was good when I looked at it a year ago, but it has really improved now! A few hours with it and all of my to-do list items were transferred, properly set up as projects, next actions, future actions, future-dated “tickler” reminders, or reference items. My electronic sticky-notes were reduced to four, all actual notes relating to things I’m working on at present. My calendar items were trimmed down to only appointments and things that have to be done on a particular day or at a particular time.

It’s quite a weight off my shoulders, as it has been the last three times I’ve done this. But since I can’t rely on my Palm’s alarms anymore, I think I’ll be forced to keep the daily and weekly reviews going this time. Things shouldn’t be able to accumulate and hang around for ages (like fixing a piece of exercise equipment — that has been on my to-do list for over a year). And if I can keep the reviews going, I should be able to keep the entire system going.

Wish me luck! 🙂


  1. For implementing GTD you might try out this new web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar. A mobile version and iCal are available too.

    Hope you like it.

  2. It looks decent, but I’m leery of online applications in general, and I don’t have a web-capable mobile phone (costs too much, not worth it to me). I’ll stick with MonkeyGTD for now.

  3. You do have a web-capable mobile-phone browser, your itouch, in defense of that feature’s relevence to you. I haven’t checked out the GTD application though, I’d hate to rely on web apps for anything important – even Google apps experienced some downtime recently so I’ve heard. (Not to mention Mobile Mess.)

  4. Yes, the Touch has a browser, but it’s useless without a wireless network, so it’s not really “mobile” for me.

    And while accessibility is a big factor in my reluctance to rely on web apps, security and privacy play a large role too. The bad guys are always finding new ways to steal information, why give them a ready cloak of anonymous Internet access to do it under? Even my most mundane to-do list item could be sensitive information in the wrong hands.

  5. So how are you working – are you now running MGTD on the ipod touch? How do you find that?

    In theory, it should be possible to take your MGTD with you and access it locally on the touch, using the built-in browser, but I haven’t found a neat way to accomplish that yet.

    Have you made any progress with this?

  6. At present I’m running MGTD on the laptop system. GTD-wise, I just use the Touch for it’s calendar and note capabilities, and Dobot ToDos. I work from home, so that’s not a problem for me, but a thumb-drive would make it portable too.

    I haven’t tried running MGTD via HTTP yet, only locally, but I believe it’s possible. I think there’s also a server program for the jailbroken Touch. (You have to jailbreak it before you can store files on it anyway.) In that case, you should be able to run it locally on the Touch as well, with some experimentation.

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