Volume 13, Issue 3; 25 Jan 2010; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Our engineering department has a project management philosophy they describe as GSD. I aspire to GSD.

For me, the part of GSDGetting Shi␈␈␈Stuff Done! that I most often have difficulty with is keeping track of what needs doing. My todo (or want-todo) list is absurdly long. If I feel like castigating myself, I can always find a few things on my list that should have been done by now. It's not that I don't work hard or get a lot done, it's that I don't always prioritize perfectly and sometimes things slip through the cracks.

I've been trying to get better at this. Having an online calendar sync'd with my phone keeps me from accidentally missing meetings and phone calls, so it seems to follow that some sort of online system should be able to help me with my todo list.

My requirements are pretty simple: I want something that's easy to use and I want something that syncs with my mobile device. An online tool is almost, but not quite, as good as something that I can use offline on my PDA.

I don't subscribe to any particular Getting Things Done methodology. Maybe I'll get there someday, but that's not my immediate goal.

I played with Remember The Milk on-and-off last year. It seemed to work pretty well for simple lists, but I wasn't using it consistently because, I think, it wasn't quite powerful enough.

This month, I took a few different systems for a test drive: 2Do, Toodledo, Things, and OmniFocus.

Unfortunately, 2Do is only an iPhone app. It appears that there are plans for the next version to support syncing with Toodledo, but that doesn't exist today. Toodledo is a web-based app and is quite nice, probably plenty sufficient for my needs. On the desktop front, both Things and OmniFocus are probably plenty sufficient as well. (There are no doubt other similar applications, those are just the ones I happened to try. I didn't attempt an exhaustive survey, I've GStD!)

And the winner is: OmniFocus, by a narrow margin. I like the project/context duality that OmniFocus uses (ToodleDo has contexts too, if you turn them on). Mostly it boiled down to the UI: I liked the “feel” of OmniFocus best.

This is an app I plan to force myself to use, so I figured I'd best pick one that felt good. It's also the most expensive, by a pretty wide margin, but c'est la vie.

Will this really work for me? Time will tell. But so far, so good. And I'm already learning to use it in ways I hadn't planned: maintaining shopping lists and travel check lists. Those aren't the sorts of things for which I would have actively sought out software (sometimes a pencil and a piece of paper really is enough), but it's encouraging to me that I have other reasons to be paying attention to my GSD tool.


One advantage of selecting a solution that costs a noticeable amount of money is that you have an extra incentive to make it work that you don't have with a free (or cheap) solution.

Maybe it's just my cheap nature, but when I pay for something, I like to get full use of it (that's one reason I pay a yearly fee to use a gym; I hate to see that money go to waste more than I hate to exercise:-).

—Posted by Dick Hamilton on 25 Jan 2010 @ 10:03 UTC #

If it doesn't work, how about org-mode + MobileOrg ?

I really like org-mode, but haven't tried MobileOrg, so I can't vouch for it.

—Posted by Erik Hetzner on 26 Jan 2010 @ 12:51 UTC #