I know this is a wee bit off topic, but I think a lot of programmers need this sort of thing and many use the GTD approach.

My criteria: *Windows compatible. I prefer a desktop solution, but web-based option with a good UI might be acceptable.

  • Easy to add a task to the "inbox" . (Single hotkey and I'm typing it in. I have fleeting thoughts that often evaporate if I have to go clicking around too much before I can enter something.)

  • Strong filtering. ("Show me all tasks labeled as "Next Action" or that have a Begin Date today or older).

  • Powerful full text search (also useful for the filtering).

  • Very easy to use. One click "done" button, etc.

+12  A: 

I know it's not really software but I find just adding all my To Do items to my whiteboard that I have stuck to the wall in front of my desk is the best way to mange this kind of stuff.

I have tried all different kinds of software but I find most of the time there is to much stuffing around when you can just write down what you need on a board and cross them off when your done, also when people walk passed and there is a project that hasn't been crossed off but it has been on there for a while people usually ask how it is coming along, which (most of the time ;) ) gets me moving along to finsh.

Nathan W
+1 for the low-tech approach. I use old-fashioned sticky notes.
Seconded. I also use the whiteboard approach, both for work and for personal projects.
William Brendel
That is a very nice idea!
+1 this is the second time today I wished I had a whiteboard. No place near my desk to put one though :-(
Wim Coenen

After trying most of them, I've dropped back to plain white index cards. Have a look at the Hipster PDA.

If you insist on software, OmniFocus works well.

Charlie Martin
A: has a product called Things for the Mac which looks pretty good. They use tags, so it's pretty flexible. Unfortunately it's not available for Windows (yet?)

They also have a version for the iPhone but without the desktop version, I'm really not interested in typing a couple hundred items into my iPhone. Also, I was pretty disapointed to find out (after I bought it) that tags were not available in the iPhone version! This makes it pretty much useless for a todo list of any size.

If you've got a mac, you might want to check it out, otherwise you might want to just keep you eye on it.

John MacIntyre

I find that PNotes can be pretty useful. Basically, it's virtual sticky notes. I have a whole monitor (3rd monitor) dedicated to virtual sticky notes. I try to keep it mostly empty. Keeping them right in your face can help remind you of things that need to be done.


Well, this is srt of a loaded answer, but Excel work pretty good. It has the added benifit that the "bussiness folks" love Excel, and if you ever had to formalize your personal list and pass it off to them, i would be easily in a form that they can understand and be happy with.

Charles Graham

The best thing I have ever used is a little memo pad that I would carry with me around the office. I like whiteboards as well but they don't travel very well unless you got one of the one on wheels but then people would get upset when you monopolized them.

I've never found a need for an electronic version of a todo list because I keep it as a goal that my to dolist should only contain things I am actually going to do and those that I am going to do in the very near future, it's my list of work.

Anything else should be kept in a work item tracking system.


I have various pocket notepads (3" x 6") which I can keep laying around wherever. They fit into pockets very nicely also. They've really helped me remember things over the period of the last few months. I like it better than software solutions because you can literally take it wherever you need it. Also, it keeps your notes concise because its only a couple inches wide.

Joe Philllips

I wrote a tool that essentially gives me a time-based journal of everything that I do (and combines it with the code I was working on). So I can easily go back and see what are the most recent items that are still open.

My need is usually to track low-level things (e.g., steps in a modification request) and often before the code is there, so neither a standard bug report nor a todo comment are good enough. So my tool lets me capture it with a keystroke and a popup without really moving out of the current insertion point location.

would love more detail on this - did you write up a blog post somewhere about this? sounds very useful
It was developed as part of my thesis work so there were several minor publications about it but then I turned to focus on another part of the tool that generated more academic interest. Mail me and I can tell you more. My tool works for Eclipse and Java.
+3  A: or Backpack.

+1 for RTM! A great service indeed.
+3  A: 

+1 for Web-based, supports tagging and search, built-in review interface, RESTful API so you can write your own code against it, text input/output support, command-line "braindump" client available, and a responsive development team.

+1  A: 

Task Coach is OS independent, easy to learn, use, and is almost a replacement for project


+4  A: 

Vim + grep meets all those criteria.

Adam Jaskiewicz
+2  A: 

Take a look at MonkeyGTD. It's a personal organisation system designed with GTD in mind, based on TiddlyWiki, which is a single-file wiki.

It meets your criteria (don't think there's a key combination to add a new task, but it's a single click). The search feature is pretty good, even supports regex. Not sure if it does Begin Dates on tasks, though.

Sam Stokes


Željko Filipin
Well, Tasks in Gmail.
No, just mail in Gmail.
Željko Filipin

I've run into a number of people that like Remember The Milk and Omnifocus, especially with their iPhone integration.

I'm an Outlook-organized guy, and I use it for all pretty much everything. But the basic GTD with Outlook was clumsy for me and sometimes making quick list items was a pain. To deal with that and raise my game, I just added the TROG Bar to my system and I am evaluating it. I find it much handier as a sidebar that flies out when I move my mouse cursor to that edge of the screen. I also don't have to open Outlook to use it -- it will MAPI into the Outlook PST file directly. I can also make quick notes of things that occur to me and then process them later into GTD next actions and project items.

I have started synchronizing the Outlook tasks to my Mobile PC phone, along with my calendar, so I'll see how helpful that is. It means that when I'm working at my desk I always have my phone tethered to the computer via USB connection and ActiveSync updates the phone as I introduce and update items in Outlook.

So far, I am liking this, but I need to do a lot of cleanup of materials to have GTD work leaner and have me be more focused. This upgrade has only been going on a few days, but I like the trend.


The Rainlendar is pretty good. You can also sync it with your Google calendar and see the events.


This is a new site but is really great so far. - very quick entry because of tons of keyboard shortcuts. Collaboration, etc.

I can also recommend Tudumo. More powerful than checkvist, but also costs like $20. (Well worth it though IMHO).

CheckVist looks good for collaborative tasks (something like Remember the ) but wouldn't work for me: it has no search feature that I can think of. If I didn't need search I'd just use paper <g>. But I run a software company. I have a zillion tasks (many of them tabled as "What if's" (too many expansion plans too little time).
Clay Nichols

OmniFocus. It's a second- or third-generation take on GTD and really flows well. It also has a companion implementation on the iPhone that integrates nicely.

The first "generation" in the OF family tree was the use of OmniOutliner as an organization tool. Then Ethan Schoonover built kGTD as a set of scripts on top of OO. Then Ethan joined OmniGroup and collaborated on the design of OF as a GTD-specific app.


I used OmniFocus for about a half a year, but switched to Emacs + org-mode when I decided I needed something cross-platform. I keep tasks and a sizable personal wiki of associated information synched between my computers using git.

As to whether I'm really doing GTD using org-mode. I doubt it. It's been a long time since I read David Allen's book and I'm sure I've drifted off the true path. Others use org-mode in a way that's truer to GTD: charles57, brool.


I've been using index cards stuck to a wall with blue-tack, and I find it works really well for me. You write what the task is on the front of the index card, and tack it to the wall, and use left-to-right ordering as a way to prioritize. Over time, you kind of move them around and the important things percolate to the top in a natural way.

When I finish a task I pull it off the wall and write the date on it when I completed it, and put it into a pile. You can also keep short notes about the task on the back of the card if you need to. In the end, the pile is a record of what you've accomplished over time, and you can store it away in a box or whatever.

I like previous posters' ideas about small notepads and Hipster PDAs, I think I may try that as well. I often think of things I need to add to my wall, and need a place to record that so I don't forget.


Tomboy Notes

I'm yet to try the windows version but it indeed meets all your bullet points.


Not specific GTD but still a great task management application on Windows: ToDoList.

On Mac OS X I swear by TheHitList.

Francis Siefken

I use 2 things for to-do lists:

Notepad (yep, notepad.exe) to edit a text file I keep on my desktop - this is a shortterm solution generally used when I'm on a customer site. Note down the things I need to do back in the office.

The other solution is scrap paper. Rather than get a notebook or whatnot, I turn old pagers over, put them under my wristrest so half of it is poking out and scribble on it - the right side is generally used for reminders. When it gets tooscribbled on, it gets turned round (or replaced from a stack of used pages) and any important item gets copied across.

I don't need search facilities or anything else like that. If I find I have too many to-do items, they're either so out of date its not worth doing them, or they didn't need to be done at all. If you have too many, your life becomes a mad chase after permanently increasing list of things to do. (Just like my boss whose email inbox is packed full because he doesn't make enough use of the delete key on crap worthless emails.)

So if you have a to-do list - do them or delete them. Life becomes much easier.

+3  A: 

Google Tasks, a recent addition. Simple clean interface, lightweight, and free.

On the web, it goes with Gmail, and you can tell it to "open in another window" which is turns it into a SSB of sorts.

On Windows, a "stand-alone" webapp can be created using Chrome for a cleaner SSB.

I also use the iPhone webapp on my iPhone (integrates as a first-class webapp). This webapp can be used on Windows, with a warning but it still works fine.

On a Mac, I use Fluid to make the same webapp look like a native app, and it works quite well with browser string spoofing.

So Google Tasks give you Windows plus other platforms; free, simple, and fast... What more could you need?


The Definitive Task Management Tools:

  • Post It (tm)
  • Napkins (better if they have coffee strains)
  • Book pages margins (Fermat couldn't be wrong!)
  • Your hand (or any other part of your body that you would look often...)

Also are needed:

  • A thick marker (for very important things)
  • A thin marker (for less important things)

And optionally colour and fluorescent markers.


I use ToDoList Which is an amazing (and not that well known) tool.

Tal Galili

I use Thinking Rocks for a few months now and I am quite satisfied. It is Java based, uses GTD process flows and definitions, and has an iphone app (which I do not use). I use the free version, which is some months behind the current version (40$).

Karsten W.

I used to use Life Balance. It has a Palm OS and an iPhone version too, that the Windows and Mac versions can sync with. It allows for hierarchical to-do lists and gets very close in spirit to the GTD method.

It's not free, but there's a 30-day trial version that you could give a swing.