After my last post about my online gtd system and my first post about how to best implement GTD online, I’ve had quite a few questions about how I do GTD online. Since I first started looking for a way to organize myself online and move all my stuff online a lot has changed. When I first started looking for an online GTD implementation, all there was was basecamp, backpackit, and RTM, and a few other small task list sites. Nothing was designed around the GTD framework. Nothing even let you implement the GTD framework correctly by fudging categories or tags or anything.

Since then, tracks was built and released as an open source system built solely around GTD, and a few other systems have come out that make implementing the Getting Things Done philosophy online really simple.

I’m writing this in hopes that it will

1. make it easier for people to figure out how to implement the GTD philosophy online
2. influence developers of online GTD implementations to make their systems more robust.

Right now there isn’t a perfect system. A few come close, and I think will be right there really soon.

So, here are a few things to consider:

  1. GTD is an entire philosophy. The correct implementation is going to be different for everyone. I can’t tell you which will be best for you, I can only tell you what’s best for me (…I guess then, it MUST also be best for you 🙂 ) and what features you might/should want and why.
  2. Because GTD is a philosophy, any system you use should be large. Not large as in bloated, but it should be able to do all things you do now, or might want to do in the future. It’s very common for people to want to implement something like this and when they’re starting they just want the basics, and they can’t see a time when they would want more. Trust me, if you really get into implementing GTD, you’ll want more.
    So, by a large system, I mean an full personal information management system online. I want to be able to manage more than tasks and calendar, I want to be able to manage ideas, goals, affirmations, notes, websites, plans, projects, …
    Backpack it does a good job of letting you create notes, todo’s and pages, but the todo’s aren’t organized correctly for GTD. What I really like about backpackit that other softwares are missing is the ability to create pages of content and notes that are just stand alone notes, not a todo with a note attached to it. You can easily keep your online reference material inside backpackit and keep it organized. With other systems I’ve used you have to fudge the system to do this.
    Being able to keep all your online reference material in a system like this would be a big deal (being able to keep stuff like websites you use infrequently, logins and passwords, windows OS tips and tricks you might read about, anything you might put on a post-it note that can get thrown away).

    If you don’t want this stuff now, you will at some point (unless you already have a good system for this).

  3. It should work with all technology, even if it’s not technology you use right now. If you really get into using your online GTD system, you will want to always make sure you can get stuff out of your head and written down no matter where you are. If you don’t send text messages now, you will some day, to write down ideas you have as you’re driving. The ability to send these to your todo list is a big deal.

    It’s also a big deal that the system you use have the ability to contextualize these as you send them.

    As far as I know, all of tracks, vitalist, toodledo, and backpackit allow you to email todo’s/notes to your todo lists. Tracks is the only one I know of that will allow you to contextualize the todo’s as you send them.

    For me this is a big deal because I send between 2-20 todo’s to myself every day via email. If I send 15 notes, or goals, or affirmations, and they all show up in my “inbox”, I’m not very happy that I now have to go and re-categorize them. This is the reason I’m sticking with Tracks for right now. Vitalist and Toodledo look like they’re more full featured than tracks, but they’re lacking key features that make the system really, really usable.

  4. The reason I’m writing this is because Vitalist and Toodledo have some features that Tracks doesn’t have that I want and think would be helpful in keeping me organized. They both have the ability to sort your todo’s, and to prioritize them (or star them…like in gmail). Tracks doesn’t have this. They both have import functions too, which is really nice because I’m free to switch between the two. Tracks doesn’t have this.
  5. It’s important that the system you use is fast and easy to add tasks to. If it doesn’t use AJAX (where the page does stuff without having to reload the whole page) don’t even bother. It’s also important that the system has a way to get your tasks/lists out of the system, and in front of you on a regular basis.
  6. Free. Free-ness is important. Sure, I’ll pay for things, I don’t mind that. But when I have to pay $10/month just to get the minimal amount of use out of something, it bugs me and I’m really hesitant to make a long term commitment (toodledo). For $10/month you can get a really, really good hosting account online. This is the reason google is sooo successful. They provide the best apps online, and they provide them for free. People click their ads.

My point with this was to explore some of the options that are available with online GTD systems right now. The big 3 that I see are, Vitalist, and Toodledo. All 3 of them are really close to doing everything I’ve said, but none is quite there. As you make a decision for which one to use (if you’re not using the GTD philosophy somewhere, you’re missing out on a lot of time and money and brainpower for yourself) look at what you currently want for features, and then look at these 3 softwares and their potential for future use.

[tags]GTD, Getting Things Done, GTD online[/tags]

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