Thursday, 7 April 2011

What's in your GTD toolbox?

Over the last few weeks members of the GTD Group on LinkedIn have been posting what GTD tools they use.  It's been an interesting thread and I've seen the names of tools and services I'd never heard of before.  I thought it might be useful to summarise what tools are most popular and the graph shows all those which have more than one user.  I did the analysis on the 4th April when there were 86 responses.  I've only looked at software and left out hardware devices, notebooks and other GTD paraphernalia that users mentioned.  My observations:

Evernote comes out well and reflects its cross-platform nature as well as its good integration between web, desktop and mobile applications.  The fact that its basic offering is free and it is an excellent information capture service is obviously also an important factor;

Outlook at number 2 is probably no surprise.  Many of us have to use it at work and its task, email and calendar integration makes it a useful GTD tool, particularly when set up using the GTD guide;

OmniFocus at number 3 is a bit of a surprise in that it is Mac only and not cheap.  However, I guess there may be a Mac bias in the sample and, although I have never used it, I hear it is an excellent product.

One of the interesting things to come out of the comments is the variety of tools used ( I counted 84) and the complex systems that some of the users had set up.  I guess if it works for them then that's fine but in some cases it seemed like a lot of tools to keep track of. I've written about the ever-increasing number of GTD-type solutions coming on to the market before and this unscientific survey confirms that. This is a dynamic and exciting segment of the software/web market to be in but eventually there will be a shakeout as users congregate around a smaller number of tried and tested solutions.  However, with the rise of tablet devices and increasing demand for cloud-based, low-cost, collaborative solutions it's anyone's game to win.  I suspect that the more traditional software vendors that don't embrace or migrate to the web will be the biggest losers.  One of the biggest challenges facing new cloud-based entrants will be persuading the corporate market that their solutions are secure and reliable.  Many freelancers and micro-businesses seem to be convinced but their more conservative and larger cousins are not there yet.


  1. It looks to me like it breaks down around which element in the GTD system these tools seem to provide and what OS they're using:
    (1) Collect - Evernote, Dropbox
    (2) Process - Outlook, Gmail, Things, Omnifocus, etc.
    (3) Organize - Mindjet, other mind-mapping tools
    (4) Review - iCal, Mail, Outlook
    The statistically high ones - Evernote and Dropbox - are indications that collection is one of the most highly valued components in the system. Both of these programs do this very well and sync across devices regardless of OS.

  2. Martin De Saulles4 July 2011 at 10:40

    Hi Todd,
    Nice summary. The way I use Evernote I would have put it in the Organize and Collect categories. Evernote is increasinly becoming a central tool in my workflow along with Toodledo.