Getting Things Done is the thing these days. While the basic principle is only about keeping a TODO list, my main concern is maintaining this list.

I tried using e-mails, calendars, mind-mapping, bug trackers, text editor, notes, paper sheet.

My problem is that all these tools are, some part of the day, far from me. Far from the eye, far from the heart. I basically forget to use my GTD tool. Funny for a tool that is intended to remind me of everything.

Do you have any advice on a GTD tool (anything from software to little white rocks in the pocket) to can help me stay focus ON the tool ?

(Please provide one suggestion per answer.)

+19  A: 

Remember the milk is a great website for task lists, being a website it is accessible anywhere (there is a mobile version of the site for phones).

http://blog.rememberthemilk.com/2008/05/guest-post-advanced-gtd-with-remember.html is a great post on their blog about how to set it up for the by the book GTD style...but it is very flexible.

I thought Remember the Milk was great, but after several weeks of inactivity, they didn't send me an email to remind me to use their tool. Too bad! I forgot about it.
Vincent Robert
@Vincent you're joking right? If you're doing GTD, you're using the tool many times a day. If you haven't used it in several weeks, you're not doing GTD, and it's not a tool problem.
The one thing I like in RememberTheMilk is that you can setup special email on their server and create tasks just by sending an email to this unique email address. It saves a lot of time!
Fedyashev Nikita

If you use a simpler system than GTD, you might find that it's easier to implement it in a way that fits into your lifestyle. I found this recent post by Rands pretty compelling. He argues that a simpler system keeps the user focused on the tasks, rather than on the tool.


Are you talking about todo's for code, or more generally a todo list?

for the coding part: I like to keep it simple and if there is something I have to do later on (mostly when prototyping) i just write my todo's in the codefile itself like

//TODO: insert whatever you need to do here

either in visual studio or eclipse you get a nice automated list of your todo's you can doubleclick to go straight to the item (and of course fix it, that's the idea of those todo's)

for the general todo list, I have tried keeping an agenda, but alas after a few weeks I forget or "postpone" to write my todo's and thus fail in keeping an updated list.

I think it's a curse for people like us who really need those lists: it just wont work...

+14  A: 

OmniFocus works for me. It can sync with iCal, parses tasks from emails and works on iPhone so you can easily collect tasks. It is also highly customizable so you can implement many GTD workflows. Only for Macs though.

This is how it looks: Omnifocus

Sebastjan Trepča
Wow, that actually looks neat. Never seen that one before.
Abyss Knight
Example tasks in those screenshots are great.
Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski

RememberTheMilk FogBugz Pbwiki Notepad


I can't edit my post because of a StackOverflow bug, so I will do the clarification here for the moment.

I was talking about general TODO, professionally and personally. Rands'article was great but it was more focused on a professional perspective.

Sven, what you described is exactly the problem, I forget to use the tool. There must be somewhere a tool simple enough for me to remember to check it, just like I never forget to check e-mails.

I will look into Remember The Milk... Thanks.

Vincent Robert
+3  A: 

Backpack bar none. It is the best information manager I have used. It is simple but powerful. It allows you to use just about any GTD methodology you prefer.

One part of my philosophy is that I never use email to store important information that I need to reference often (such as Usernames/Passwords, auto information, etc). Bakpack is great for organizing snippits of organization about you car, house, or business. One of my personal favorite features is the reminders. If I need to deal with something in an email later, I just create a reminder.

Cool idea: create a greasemonky script for gmail to automatically create reminders from an email.

Notes, lists, images, files, API.

+2  A: 

I use Outlook plus a Windows Mobile Smartphone. It is far from perfect, but it solves the most pressing problem for me in that it is always close at-hand (also the original poster's most pressing problem)

Since GTD breaks down to nothing more than a calendar and a bunch of lists, I use the calendar for the calendar (obviously) and the task list for everything else. I use categories to organize the tasks ... Project, Next Action, Goal, Waiting, Errands, Someday, etc. With some minor tweaks to the standard Outlook view, this is workable.

On the phone, I have to use a 3rd party PIM since the one that comes out of the box with Windows Mobile 5 is not so hot. I use AgendaOne.

I have a colleague that accomplishes the same with TiddlyWiki and printouts to carry in his pocket.

Brad Tutterow
+1  A: 

iPod Touch calendar. It's everywhere I need to go for work, & seeing as Outlook is standard for our office the iTunes syncing has been working without a hitch.

+6  A: 

Lifehacker's Five Best GTD Applications


After using Things.app for a while, I've switched back to OmniFocus. It's a hell of a lot better than it was in beta.

Jarin Udom
+3  A: 

I've been using ThinkingRock. It has options to support the entire GTD workflow and has been really helpful in managing the process for me.

Jeremy Privett
ThinkingRock rocks.
http://www.trgtd.com.au/ is a link to use until they fix their internal redirection.
Larry Smithmier

I have found that a self created gtd todo list has worked the best for me. My company has a sharepoint installation so I just modified a custom list to follow the GTD principles.

I have been having a similar issue of not keeping up with a single tool. I had used todoist before but couldn't keep with it. So now I just kinda use my inbox for stuff at home (small list) and my custom list in sharepoint for work stuff. I just keep the window open all the time and it works well for me.


Going digital

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Mobile

I've tried tons of applications that could host an Inbox, an Action list, a Projects list, a Reference system and a Tickler file all in one. The best system I could find was one with the above tools.

Before turning to OneNote I tried a lot of different systems on the web for this kind of thing. But the web being the web, it just doesn't fit for easy and quick additions/edits/removes. Being able to access the system from "anywhere" (at least from any pc) didn't matter that much, I found out, when the friction of adding to the system just detered me from even using it.

OneNote allows for extremely easy insertion of what ever data you want (text, pictures, files, links, ...). The organization can both be free form and very structural. My inbox is completely free form, I'm just tossing stuff in there. The Projects, Reference list and Tickler file has rigid structure.

The tickler file system is built as a list in OneNote. Every item is a Task, that when created automatically links to Outlook (when editing or removing in OneNote and vice versa, this is reflected in the other program). Outlook is in turn synchronized with my mobile phone on a regular basis. That way I can see (and edit) my tickler system as a list in OneNote, I'm notified as a reminder via Outlook, and be it I'm not at the computer, my mobile will inform me as well.

Andreas H.R. Nilsson
+1  A: 

Have you tried Vitalist? It feels like RTM but geared toward GTD. The only thing I don't like about it is that the default reminder time is 12:00am, my wife almost killed me after the 3rd or 4th time. I loved RTM (Lists = Projects, tags = {next action, tickler, someday, etc.}, location = context), but I ended up not being able to view the data the way I wanted to.

  • I use Evernote for research or reference material.
  • gmail as my inbox (texting notes and todo's to myself while on the run). Vitalist also has on inbox, but I find myself not checking it as much.
  • Finally, I use google calendar, for important ticklers or appointments (creates some double entry with my corporate system, but it's worth it)
Dan Williams
+1  A: 

For ubiquitous capture, I couldn't live without the voice memo feature on my phone. (I use CallRec on my PalmOS Treo, but I'm sure similar applications exist for non-ridiculously old OSes.) I set it up on a whim, but once I set up a recurring daily task in my task manager to remind me to actually transcribe the notes it really made my system click. Double-clicking the side button on my Treo and dictating the task I want to get into my system is faster and easier than any other method I had tried previously.

Ryan Olson

I like I want Sandy as a tickler; I've been playing with Tracks for the rest of GTD, but am not really happy yet.

David Singer

I use a combination of viki and vimoutliner. I haven't found a great calendar, but it's Google Calendar at the moment. I use a different Google Calendar as a tickler file.

+16  A: 

A small notebook and a pen. I use a small Moleskine. Easy to throw in a backpack, or even a pocket. It's the ultimate flexible tool.

  • To-Do lists? Check
  • Notes? Check
  • Mind mapping? Check
  • Portable? Check
  • Available offline? Check
Doug R
Gets backed up? Eep.
frou: manual synchronization with computer data base (OmniFocus in my case) every day. Makes you look at and think about your tasks and goals, which is essential for good GTD workflow.
Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski
+1, I don't know what I would do without my Moleskines.
Aiden Bell

I also use Outlook / Onenote (desk and mobile) like @Andreas H.R. Nilsson

This link and also this can show some ways to better use those tools to better GTD :-)


Hi All

I've spent the last 5 years writing and supporting the freeware Windows task manager ToDoList. It supports hierachical task structures and exports/imports to/from a wide variety of other formats. It also runs happily off a thumbdrive and can also be coerced to running on Linux under Wine.

Check it out Here or Here.


I use outlook with the GTD plugin

Works really well to connect the inbox with notes and calendar, and everything syncs up well with my Palm device (currently a Centro.)

+4  A: 

I agree with the small notebook concept; Moleskin, spiral bound.. whatever.. i actually use graph paper so it looks funky when i draw things on it. Every other GTD / ToDo tool seems like yet another form of procrastination.

The more time you spend in these tools, the less time you have to make something awesome.

Mark Nold
+2  A: 

I use MonkeyGTD Alpha 3.0. It can easily be put on a thumb drive or used on-line from anywhere via Tiddlyspot.

MonkeyGTD is labeled as an Alpha, but it's gotten very stable over the last few months. I use it with Firefox and have not had any problems. In addition to the GTD structure, the TiddlyWiki functionality is a natural way to squirrel away useful information that's easily found later with the built-in search.

There is a learning curve, but once over it, you get hooked.

Bob Nadler
Or the other TiddlyWiki-based GTD wiki: the d3 (http://www.dcubed.ca/).
Laurynas Biveinis

I use Remember the Milk along with the RTM Plugin for Google Calendar.

+2  A: 

MyLife Organized

I find MyLife Organized to be the perfect GTD companion. It is flexible enough to accommodate other systems too, not just GTD. The author is often adding new features and developing it further, so it's constantly getting better and better. The latest feature of note is dependencies, so certain tasks will only appear in your to-do list once others have been completed.

Charles Roper
+6  A: 

I would recommend Toodledo, as it has everything a good GTD system needs, and more:

  • Next items
  • Unlimited contexts
  • Unlimited folders (projects)
  • Tasks for your next actions
  • Calendar
  • Notebook entries
  • Goal management
  • Customizable booklet printout of next tasks
  • iCal integration (e.g. for showing scheduled tasks in MS Outlook / Google Calendar)
  • Jott integration
  • Google gadget available
  • File upload (up to 1GB)

With the exception of file upload, all the above is available with the free version of Toodledo! For the "Pro Plus" version, you'll get SSL connection, file upload (1 GB) and a few other cool features such as "Goal Progress" and "Scheduler". With Scheduler, you enter how much time you have right now, and Toodledo will present an optimized To-Do list that fits the available time.

Toodledo is highly customizable in terms of displayed fields, and screen layout. You can even create and save you own filtered views of next actions.

Other GTD systems (e.g. Nozbe or VitaList) offer free editions that are very limited. I'm still using the free edition of Toodledo - you can actually implement a solid GTD system with this. I do plan on upgrading to the "Pro Plus" version soon though ($29.95/year). You can try out the "Pro Plus" version for a 7 day period.


I use index cards held together with a binder clip. I keep the cards and a pen in my pocket with my keys (no screen to worry about). It's always in within reach, and I never need to sync, find a wifi point, or charge batteries.

I use a card for each context / project / list. When I've filled a card, I copy the pending tasks to a new card and rip up the old one before throwing it away. It's surprisingly gratifying in a way that checkboxes on a web form just can't match :).

Keep plenty of extra index cards to take notes (capture) and process the cards when you get back home / to the office / wherever. You can also write a phone number on a card and hand it to someone, scribble a message and pass it to a coworker during a meeting, etc.

For more ideas:

Hipster PDA on Wikipedia

Hipster PDA on 43 Folders

+3  A: 

I used to use GTD Inbox, a Firefox plugin which adds GTD features to Gmail.

+3  A: 

I found this little, minimalistic, but helpful, tool: NextAction, from TimeSnapper's Leon Bambrick.

It can be useful in tracking on-the-fly notes, try it. Freeware.

+4  A: 

Todoist is an incredibly flexible todo list. I've also struggled with taking GTD on the move with me. At the computer, fine... I've got it licked. But when out and about, I still struggle.

I almost always have my moleskine notebook with me, but I can't seem to transfer my GTD onto paper. So I tend to use notes in my mobile and just 're-sync' when I get back to the PC. So like you, Vinent, I'm still looking for the ideal solution.



Works from the iPhone or the Web for simple lists.


I have been using Jello Dashboard with Outlook 2007. Simple and sync nicely with Exchange server and my windows mobile.

+4  A: 

Emacs with Org mode.


I've been using my Palm IIIxe PDA for ToDo lists for a while now. I have the Palm Desktop app open all the time and basically use the task list as my trusted repository as advised by the GTD method. I'm still a long way from being 100% GTD compliant, but at least this allows me to capture everything.

Makes it easy to sync between my work desktop, the PDA and my home machine. If I'm away from my desk I can still easily enter information.

I'm still a bit wary of web based systems since I can never guarantee I'll be on line when a good idea strikes and I need to add it to the list.


I use Freemind for many of my information management tasks. My company also uses the typical outlook + exchange server architecture, which works quite well for me. I also use the smart bookmarks and tagging features of the new Firefox (3.x) and its intelligent address bar instead of traditional bookmarking. I hate sorting things in folders,i love search.

I use Freemind to:

  • write meeting minutes
  • sketch ideas
  • summarize papers
  • scaffold documents
  • store passwords (you can even encrypt branches!)
  • manage action items (tasks)

You can link mindmaps together very easily and you can easily link to other documents. Before i converted to Freemind i used a Wiki (TiddlyWiki) as information management. But Freemind is better suited for personal use.

+1  A: 

Wow! This whole list and no one has mentioned Tudumo? I've tried nearly all of the above and have stuck with Tudumo. Very keyboard friendly, quick, and yet powerful with contexts, tags, etc.

Bonus hint: Put it on your DropBox and you're in for synch'ed GTD goodness.

No kidding, I love Tudumo!

Wow, I feel archaic in comparison. I use notepad and notepad++ to keep track of my todo lists. For stuff at home, I used to use something ala notepad but with special formatting for GTD. I believe it was called TaskPaper. Very simple app, but works well.

Abyss Knight

Recently I started using Gmail for all my notes. Just send mail to yourself and write in subject what you need to do. If there is a lot of text, add it to mail body. Then you can label it for different contexts (work, home, today, later...). Works great so far.

Željko Filipin
+1  A: 

I personally use OmniFocus on my Mac as well as its mobile version on an iPod Touch. This way I always have a GTD-system around that I can easily sync. If want to draw something (graph, mindmap etc.) and I'm at my laptop, I use OmniGraffle and on the go I use a Moleskin notebook. So far this combination works quite nicely for me.

Horst Gutmann

My favourite GTD tool is OneNote 2007. My setup is based on the tutorial I found at this blog: http://www.blog.7breaths.co.uk/2007/06/gtd-with-onenote-collected-links.html

You can create the todo-list context automatically by using the tag summary. Works like a charm for me. The best part: You don't lose the connection with the project the todo item lives in. Just click on the todo item in the tag summary and you are taken to the associated project and can examine the item in the context of its project.


Google Tasks. It's integrated with gmail and calendar, you can access it from anywhere, it's sleek and small, and you can manage several todo lists with due dates etc.


I get about 200 emails a day, so being able to generate tasks from an email and group related emails together into a single super-task is something of a killer feature. I use Gmail tasks primarily to keep me from forgetting about tasks and so that I can make sure all the emails for a given task end up in the archive when the task is done.

Forget prioritization of your entire TODO list. Prioritize only one task at a time — when you're ready to begin a new one, and only if you have to — the best prioritization scheme is simple FIFO. In the ideal case, you're productive enough that your TODO list is empty when that high-priority task comes in. Begin the next task immediately after the last, no excuses. Do everything in your power to avoid interrupting tasks.

Bob Aman
+4  A: 


There is a Mac app and an iPhone app. I use the iPhone app because it has all I need in a clear and simple package and I have it with me all the time.

To keep the tool easy I the following principles:

  • all task have dates to show up only when they are relevant
  • 3 daily beeps remind me to look at it
  • more than 10 daily task need pushing off of some tasks (5 might be better)
+1 for Things. Wifi sync between iPhone and Mac apps works smoothly.
I love things. Wish there was a Windows version!
-1 (even though I currently use it at work) as there is no synchronization or Windows version.
Sridhar Ratnakumar
+1  A: 

As I read the question, there were two parts. 1. What is a great tool? 2. How do I keep myself on task and use it? Since everybody is answering #1, I will start with #2.

For keeping on task, one of the best things I have tried is a timer. You define a period of time where you are going to knuckle down and not do anything but what is on your list. Setup a timer for that period of time (say 1 hour). Then, you also need a reminder beep to keep on target. Start with a reminder beep of 5 minutes. When you hear the beep, quickly check to see if you are working on what you are supposed to be working on. If yes, great. If not, bad person, no donut. Over time, you can adjust the period of time you are working for and the frequency of the beeps to your personal taste.

For #1, I am still on the look out for the perfect tool set for me. I was using some of the ones mentioned above. Currently I am playing around with Things, but the lack of a mobile application on Android is killing me. I don't want to lug around an iPhone just for a todo list.

Cheers, Jacob


I found out about GTD about 8 months ago and have been using it extensively. I found Nozbe and really love it.

As a software consultant, I work on projects with colleagues and I use Nozbe's built in sharing functions to share tasks with others. Since I use Evernote, I find that the integration between the two is really useful as I usually document in Evernote and task in Nozbe.

So between the two software solutions and the good 'ole in basket on my desk, I am much more productive.


I've one of the authors of Checkvist and I believe it is very useful, especially for developers. Checkvist is an online outliner and task list manager, has a strong focus for keyboard support, supports collaboration, public lists, OpenAPI, mobile interface, GMail/Jira/Youtrack integration.

Try it out!


I would recommend checking out http://www.Gtdagenda.com for an online GTD manager.

+2  A: