In 2009 I was beginning to feel rather frustrated using an analog Franklin planner system, When I was walking around with a smart phone. It seemed that my work bag was unnecessarily heavy and I wasn’t taking advantage the new technology in my pocket was giving me. I had read David Allen’s Getting Things Done book a few years before, and so I decided to reread it and to see if there was anything in there that would enable me to take advantage of my new iPhone.
All that happened, was I exchanged my Franklin planner for a beautiful paper-based notebook. Not quite what I had in mind. However within six months the App Store began filling with productivity applications. Many were good, many were excellent, but most were terrible. It took me quite along time to find an application that met my needs. I needed something that not only worked on my iPhone but synchronised with my desktop and laptop. At first I found this with Things for Mac, and I used that for about a year when I finally laid out my hard earned cash and went fully Omnifocus.
So from around 2011 onwards, I was using Omnifocus. I got to know Omnifocus intimately and I was able to go very very deep. My ‘Perspectives’ were set up, my ‘Contexts’ were set up and everything worked fine. Even to this day I have immense respect for those guys over at the Omni Group. They make tremendous products whether it’s Omnifocus, OmniGraffle or OmniOutliner. Omnifocus, in my opinion, is the Rolls-Royce of productivity software. Its solid, it’s dependable, and it works like no other productivity app in the market. It’s not beautiful, But it is elegant.
But in 2014 I realised that Omnifocus was way too powerful for my needs. Yes, Omnifocus can do very well with the little things, But it is expensive and I just felt it was more than I needed. And as with Rolls-Royce cars, when it comes to servicing, there’s a lot more to it than servicing a simpler more nimble car.
And so my search began. I took another look at Things, but the only thing they had changed was Cloud Syncing. I looked at Wunderlist, but that just didn’t look right to me. Finally I found Todoist. What drew me to Todoist initially was its beautiful design, the designers at Todoist really are something special. They created a gorgeous interface both for iOS and Mac OS. And that design over the last two years has just got better and better and better. But it isn’t just the design, Todoist is reliable, Over two years I think it has only let me down on a few occasions, But these were just minor letdowns and were very quickly solved. I’ve never Lost my full database, and Todoist sync is lightning fast. Todoist has all the features I want, Labels (contexts) and Filters (perspectives) and it doesn’t have things I don’t need (well… perhaps one… I don’t need Karma, but I know a lot of people who like that feature)
What I have realised during the course of this journey is that as we grow with GTD we change. Our needs change, and we learn to use the system better. I think most of us who set out on the GTD Journey find the basic system doesn’t necessarily work perfectly for us, and one of the beauties of GTD is in its flexibility. You can use a simple paper-based system, Or a full blown digital system it really doesn’t matter. But what really matters is that you make it your own and that you trust it implicitly. If you don’t trust your system implicitly then you’re never going to find GTD working for you. My journey with GTD has taken me through four different Applications. It has taken me six years to get to where I am today, but where I am today is a place I feel very comfortable with. I have an application in Todoist I trust implicitly, I have created a system around the GTD system that works for me and I find I very rarely feel stressed, I always feel in control, and my relationships with both my family and friends have never been better. I know many people will tell you that you should not indulge in “productivity porn” and keep switching your tools. But you will grow, your system will grow and the needs of one system may not meet your own productivity needs in the future. If and when that happens, look around, see what has changed with other apps and figure out what will work best for you. Don’t be afraid to change.
The journey is worth it because what a journey I’ve had. Thank you David Allen, Thank you Omnifocus and thank you Todoist.
Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century