Getting Things Done (GTD) Method + The 8 Best GTD Apps of 2019
What is the GTD method by David Allen and what are the best GTD apps this year? I find out.
FRANK MILLER APRIL 25, 2019LEAVE A COMMENT
Completing multiple projects on time. Meeting deadlines without losing your sanity on the way. Successfully running errands like you’re a pro. Imagine accomplishing all this, along with a healthy body and mind. Sounds too good to be true?
Well, let’s just admit, we can’t stay productive all the time. Even the most accomplished lot amongst us have their fair share of Monday blues, and it’s understandable too. But, there must be a way to help improve our productivity, if not skyrocket it, right?
Yes, there is. It’s abbreviated GTD, and its a productivity method introduced that stands for Getting Things Done.
If you’re not already aware of the phenomena, GTD is a popular productivity technique and the title of a best-seller by David Allen. Besides being popular, it’s also one of the favorites among productivity enthusiasts, and it has all the right reasons to be so.
What is the GTD Method?
Image Source – GTD in 15 Minutes by Hamberg
If you don’t have time to read the whole book (many of us don’t), I’ve broken down the method elaborately for you to understand why GTD works the way it does, and all the popular GTD apps that can help you implement it to master the skill of getting things done.
Let me explain!
So, the whole concept of GTD revolves around systematic organization of your tasks and priorities in a way that they become more manageable and achievable. The technique comprises of 5 steps that bring you closer to getting your life together (well, almost).
These 5 steps are:
Now, you must be thinking this looks like a lot of work, and isn’t GTD method supposed to minimize the work effort? Patience, my beloved reader! It may seem intimidating at first glance, but once you get to understand it better, it’ll work like a charm.
Let’s start with explaining each step:
There are moments when your brain suddenly hits all the right chords and you’re swamped with creative ideas, or better yet, all the things you need to get done. Now, if you know brains, they like playing this little game where all this happens for a brief moment only, and after a while you’re only thinking about potatoes. All lost in a jiffy.
So, the first step of implementing GTD is to brain dump. Immediately transfer whatever comes to your mind into an external system, which can be anything ranging from a simple notepad, to a more elaborate to-do list app.
Clear your mind of all the things you need to do and you’d be surprised how light you feel. This is the first step towards better productivity and it will set the basis for processing things faster.
The second step recommends processing all that you’ve jotted down and identifying what exactly needs to be done out of that pile of tasks. It’s highly likely you’ve written down those things too which do not require your attention at all. Break down all your to-dos to decide the next course of action.
An interesting take on this can be to follow the two-minute rule. If the underlying task can be completed within the next two minutes, do it immediately. This will greatly help you get rid of all the small things that were piling up to become big troubles later on. The clarifying step in turn leads to the third step, organize.
Organizing is one of the most important (and elaborate, might I add) steps of the GTD technique. You begin by categorizing and prioritizing your tasks and putting them in relevant lists, according to the nature of urgency.
So, first things first, you need to decide if the tasks that lies ahead of you are actionable or not. If they’re not, the decision gives birth to three types of lists where you can dump them:
as the name suggests, the tasks that are not worth dealing with should be immediately put in trash list. They don’t need your attention of any sorts.
All the tasks that do not require any action at the moment, but might be needed at some time in the future should be put in this category.
If you’re not sure whether the task should be done right away or not, put them in someday/maybe list. Keep reviewing them over time to evaluate if any action needs to be done.
Now comes all your tasks that are, indeed, actionable. If the actionable task can be done within the next 2 minutes, do not wait any further, and do it. If not, put it in ‘Projects’ list. Putting the tasks in projects category implies that they need more than one step, or more time to successfully complete.
You need to delegate or defer the tasks that are now in your projects list. This can be done by further placing the tasks in the following lists:
- Waiting for List: consists of all the tasks that can be easily delegated to someone else
- Calendar: consists of deadline-driven tasks. Must be completed at a certain due date
- Next Action List: actions or tasks that require execution, but are without any due date
There is also an interesting concept of ‘contexts’ when it comes to organizing your tasks. Divide your tasks according to their similarities and give them a context tag to identify them better.
Continuous evaluation and monitoring of everything that you need to do is a recipe for perfection. Each week reflect upon your decisions and evaluate your workflow to understand what you’ve done till now, and what you need to do to improve your decisions.
There you go! You have everything neatly placed right in front of you. You just need to get your head into it and start knocking things off your checklists like you own the game.
Your system is set and you know what exactly you need to do. Remove that procrastination cloak off you and get to work.
The Best GTD Apps of 2019
Now that you’ve gotten the gist of getting things done technique, let’s move towards the real deal. The getting things done applications which let you implement GTD smoothly and steer clear your mind of all the clutter.
Out of behemoth of GTD apps available on the internet, I’ve cherry picked the best ones and did some hands on testing to review them for you.
Our Rating: 4.7/5
Supported Platforms: Android, iOS
Starting off the list with a tool that is equipped with a feature set designed by specifically keeping in mind the GTD methodology. FacileThings comes with everything that you need to effectively implement the GTD structure without losing track along the way.
The sleek user-interface and aesthetically pleasing design makes it a go-to GTD app. The tool allows you to quickly begin capturing and clarifying ideas before moving on to the next steps. Through integrations of Evernote, Google Calendar, Dropbox, and some other apps, easily capture your ideas before they slip your mind.
This GTD app also comes with native lists to help you organize your tasks according to their context. As for every other component of GTD, FacileThings lets the users follow a systematic approach to get things done.
- Different types of lists for putting tasks in, according to their relevant category
- Calendar to put all your events in check
- Weekly review wizard to help reflect on decisions
- Notes within tasks to add any additional information
- Perspective tab to edit and view the project, goal, and area of responsibility of actions
- Multiple third-party application integrations
FacileThings comes with month wise subscriptions:
- One Month – $12 per month
- 3 Months – $9 per month
- 6 Months – $8 per month
- 1 Year – $7 per month
Our Rating: 4.6/5
Supported Platforms: Android, iOS, Web
The second app I got my hands on is Nirvana.
This GTD app comes with a smart feature set to help you with getting things done faster by keeping all the GTD components in check. The tool provides native lists to fit all the tasks according to their priority level and urgency.
The inbox functionality of the app allows you to instantly capture whatever comes to your mind in one centralized location.
An interesting feature Nirvana comes with is the energy level field with tasks. Whenever adding tasks, you can define the energy level of a task to identify the attention it requires. Plus, you can also estimate the time it’ll need for you to complete a task.
- Pre-built task lists to put in all the actions
- Recurring to-dos management for regularly repeating tasks
- Inbox for capturing ideas before they slip through the cracks
- Energy levels and time estimates with tasks
- Tags, due dates, and notes with tasks
- Focus list to keep the concentration on important tasks only
- Free – basic features of Nirvana
- Pro – 3 payment plans – $5 monthly, $29 per year, and $49 for lifetime subscription
Our Rating: 4.6/5
Supported Platforms: iOS, Android
One of the most popular to-do list management apps, Todoist is my one of the top recommendations for the best GTD app. The tool provides a rich feature set for managing one’s notes, checklists, tasks, habits, and much more through one platform.
Although Todoist doesn’t come with pre-loaded lists, it provides enough to get going through the process as smoothly as possible. The quick add functionality serves as a means of capturing ideas and moving forward with the day.
Furthermore, when it comes to reviewing your performance, make use of Todoist’s Karma points, streaks, and levels. The beautiful graphical visualization of how you’ve been performing over time helps with understanding the trends better and reflecting upon your actions.
- Checklists management, along with quick jotting down of ideas
- Recurring due dates for managing habits
- Custom task views and labels with tasks to provide context
- Karma points and streaks for evaluating performance
- Color-coded priority levels and themes to match individual preferences
- Powerful third-party application integrations to stay connected with your favorite apps
- Free – for starters, up to 80 projects, up to 5 people per project.
- Premium – at $3 per month, for professionals. Up to 300 projects, 25 people per project, reminders, comments, labels, and productivity trends
- Business – at $5 per user/month, for teams. Up to 500 projects, 50 people per project, team inbox, admin controls, team billing, and priority support
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Supported Platform: iOS, Mac, Web
OmniFocus is the Apple’s take on GTD. Stocked with powerful features, OmniFocus enables you to get things done with flexibility and ease. The intuitive and visually appealing user-interface further acts as cherry on top.
This GTD app lets you create actions and add tags to them to classify them according to their distinct category. If you dread typing actions, Siri to the rescue! Moreover, you can also easily convert your actions into respective projects and execute them better.
The review feature of the app helps in reflecting upon the actions and monitoring the performance over time to make informed decisions. You can also see what lies ahead in your schedule through forecast functionality which shows your actions and events on calendar.
- Quick entry for actions whenever they come to mind
- Customized tags and labels for categorizing actions
- Project review to monitor progress over time
- Forecast to keep the next to-dos in check
- Light and dark modes to match with preferences
- Synchronization across devices to keep workflows intact
OmniFocus comes with different tiers of pricing for Mac and iOS.
- Standard – $49.99
- Pro – $99.99
Core features included in Mac are Calendar integration, attachment support, forecast, share sheet, and more
- Standard – $49.99
- Pro – $74.99
Core features included are, everything in Mac, plus notifications and alerts, data export, review mode, Siri shortcuts, and much more
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Supported Platforms: iOS, Mac, Web
Another GTD app dedicated for Mac and iOS users, Zendone makes it to my roundup of getting things done apps simply due to the fact that the tool provides elaborate means to organize your items. It comes pre-loaded with lists to quickly help you categorize your items according to their type.
Several key features of the tool reflect how exactly a GTD method needs to be implemented. These include inbox for storing ideas, lists for organizing items, and do actions for next to-dos. The clean, clutter-free interface of the app makes it easy to quickly get a hang of the tool and get done with things.
A pretty straight forward app, Zendone also comes with Evernote and Google Calendar integration to maintain a constant rhythm of your workflow without any interruptions.
- Native lists for categorizing and organizing items
- Evernote and Google Calendar integration
- Inbox for quickly storing and retrieving ideas
- Calendar view to keep your upcoming events in check
- Tickler folder for actions that need to be done, but are without any due date
Zendone comes with monthly subscriptions which start from $9 per month.
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Supported Platforms: Android, iOS
If you’re on a hunt for a GTD app that’s a little more than just getting-things-done app, Notion is for you. The tool provides elaborate task management solution, along with other smart features to help you go through your workflows without any complicated add-ons.
The tool can be considered as a central wiki to keep all the organizational data in one location, which can be accessed whenever needed. Furthermore, Notion also provides spreadsheets to keep record of your workflows and use them as light-weight CRM.
Another useful feature is the focus mode which helps in keeping all the concentration on your current work, freeing you of all other distractions in the app.
- Notes and documents, with support for multiple media types
- Knowledge base for storing team data in one place
- Kanban, list, and calendar view for tasks
- Native project templates for quickly gearing up
- Spreadsheets to keep everything recorded
- Workspaces for team collaboration in one place
- Offline access, with sync across multiple devices
- Free – unlimited members, 1000 blocks, and 5 MB file upload limit
- Personal – at $4 per month, one member limit, unlimited blocks, advanced permissions, priority support, and unlimited file upload limit, among other features
- Team – at $8 per user/month, all of Personal plan features, with unlimited members and admin tools
- Enterprise – at $16 per user/month, customizable plan
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Supported Platform: iOS, Android
One of the most popular names in to-do list apps is Evernote. With tons of features focused around getting things done the smarter way, Evernote is best at what it does. This GTD app serves multiple purposes without over-burdening you with a fancy feature set.
Whether you want a simple to-do list management for yourself, or advanced project management for your team, Evernote wears all hats.
For instantly listing down items on the go, use Google Assistant or Siri and quickly get done with things. These lists can also be shared with anyone to collaborate on ideas and take quick decisions.
When it comes to team collaboration, Evernote takes your worries away by providing easy sync across devices, shared spaces, and easy file attachments, including documents and emails.
- Capturing and organizing notes, manually or through Assistants
- Web clipping functionality to save online content
- Easy sharing of lists for quickly getting things done
- Tags for notes to organize them according to their type
- Spaces for sharing notebooks with team members
- File attachments, along with image annotations and comments
- Synchronization across multiple devices to stay connected