Getting Things Done: Best Technology to GTD

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 2:13 PM EDT

This article is part six of a seven part series on Getting Things Done® (GTD®) -- the time and productivity management system by David Allen.
Columns In Series:
GTD Post #1: Getting Things Done: Introduction
GTD Post #2: Getting Things Done: Step 1 - Collection
GTD Post #3: Getting Things Done: Step 2/3 - Processing & Organizing
GTD Post #4: Getting Things Done: Step 4 - Context & Doing
GTD Post #5: Getting Things Done: Step 5 - Review
Getting Things Done: Best Technology to GTD
I've got a bone to pick with David Allen. I spent weeks researching, testing, and implementing what you're about to read. Why? Because David is intentionally non-committal when it comes to recommending specific GTD tools and applications. I get that. He doesn't want to push fancy gadgets if that would scare readers, but since I had no interest in using a tickler file, paper lists, or carrying around a little Collection notepad, I could have used a little guidance.

If you want to implement GTD as efficiently as possible and use all of the cool technology of the day, here's everything you need to know.

To save time and energy, I Collect, Process, and Organize in one step instead of three. If you're new to GTD, this may not seem like much, but it's huge.

The first thing I did was to determine all of the areas I could be where I might need different Collection buckets. Here are mine:

  • Computer. I spend a great deal of time in front of my work and home computer, so I knew I needed something solid here but also "cloud" based. In other words, the data couldn't live on any single computer, but had to be internet based so I could access the same data whether I was at the office or at home.
    • Toodledo.com (free). This is basically an internet site where you can put all of your Next Actions categorized by Context. So not only am I Collecting the information, I'm also Processing and Organizing all at the same time. No matter what computer I'm on, I can quickly see all of my Next Actions.This is good, but it gets a whole lot better.
    • Toodledo Firefox Add-On (free). I'm constantly thinking of Next Actions throughout the day at my computer. Instead of navigating to Toodledo.com, logging in, and then entering the Next Action, I bypass the first two steps by using Toodledo's Firefox Add-On. Here's how it works. I can be on ANY website and simultaneously press Ctrl-Alt-A on my keyboard and a little pop-up box comes up where I can quickly add the Next Action, the Context, and any Notes about the action.So far so good, but trust me, it gets even better.
    • Evernote (free). For all of my projects, lists, goals, and ideas that are not immediately Actionable, I put them in an application called Evernote. When I was preparing for the Dr. Phil episode, I'd put random thoughts and notes in a "Dr. Phil" category in Evernote. I also have an "Italy" category where I can put travel tips, notes, must-see places, great restaurants, etc.. My largest category is titled "Blog." I have 291 ideas for blog posts that I store in Evernote and can access from anywhere.Pretty cool, but it gets better.
    • FileCenter ($49.95 to $179.95). I try to be as paperless as possible. Most physical documents I get I scan and convert to digital PDF files. All of these files could get hard to organize and find, so I use a content management application by Lucion.com called FileCenter.
  • Anywhere. If I'm not in my car or at my computer, how do I Collect my thoughts/ideas? Let's say I'm at the grocery store and I get a great idea for a blog post or I'm at the movies and remember I have to call a client? Should I wait until I get home to put these in Evernote and Toodledo? Should I write them down in a notebook and then when I get home transfer them to Evernote and Toodledo? Surely you jest.
    • iPhone. I whip out my iPhone to Collect these ideas. Like the Apple commercials say, "There's an app for that."
      • Appigo's ToDo ($9.95). This is a slick iPhone app where I store all of my Next Actions by Context. But wait, I said earlier I store all of my Next Actions in Toodledo. So do I use Toodledo or ToDo? Yes! Even though these two apps are from two different companies, they synch. That call I remembered I had to make to the client that I typed in my iPhone at the movie . . . it will be in Toodledo. All of my Next Actions I type into Toodledo are accessible from my ToDo app on my iPhone. There's no need for retyping, re-processing, or re-organizing. So if I'm at the dentist and have a few extra minutes, I can pull up ToDo from my phone and see who I need to call (Call Context) or what I need to think about (Brain Context).
      • Evernote. Guess who has an app for the iPhone? Yup, Evernote. So when I'm at the gym and get a great idea for a blog post, I type it into my iPhone Evernote app and it synchs to my office and home Evernote applications.
    • BlackBerry. If you use a BlackBerry, you're in luck. You can still GTD.
      • TaskJot.com ($14.95). This does the same thing that the iPhone ToDo app does-you can enter all of your Next Actions by Context and it synchs with Toodledo.
      • Evernote (free). Create and retrieve all of your projects, Someday/Maybe lists, etc. from your BlackBerry.
  • Car. I knew there was no way I was going to try to write anything down or send myself an email at 80mph, uh, I mean 55mph. So here's what I use:
    • Hand held digital voice recorder ($50). The best and most economical I've found is the Olympus VN 6200PC (I have an older version and love it).
    • Jott.com ($12.95/month). This is a very cool service. You call a toll-free number, leave a message, and usually minutes later your voice message is converted to text and emailed to you. Great way to capture ideas on the go. They have an iPhone and BlackBerry app, but you can use it from any phone.
  • Voicemail. Do you scratch phone messages on Post-It notes? No more. I created a voicemail template form that I keep next to my office phone. If I get a call or listen to a message I Collect it on this form. I can then easily Process and Organize this data later. You can even create a voicemail form that you use at home.
No matter what comes my way, I have the perfect suite of Collection buckets for my needs. Now it's your turn. Use what I use, or develop and test your own Collection apps and tools.






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This product and its maker are not affiliated with, approved or endo rsed by D avid Allen or the David Allen Company, which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company For more information on the David Allen Company's products the user may visit their website at www.davidco.com.


(Keyboard image by john a ward, CC 2.0).
(iPhone image by Johan Larrson, CC 2.0).
(Dashboard image by p0psicle, CC 2.0).
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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.