November 8, 2018
Getting Things Done (GTD) Method and 14 Best GTD Apps & Tools
Do you ever feel overburdened by the weight of all the things you have to get done with during the day or during the week? We all do! Believe us when we say this, each one of us thinks, at least once a day, that maybe 24 hours of the day weren’t put in place for us to do this much of work. Or, maybe we need to manage our tasks better? Definitely the latter!
But, how exactly? A question many of you might ask. Let me introduce you to the GTD method.
What is GTD?
GTD or Getting Things Done is a popular time management method and the title of a best-selling book by author and productivity consultant David Allen. After years of research and practice, David Allen came up with this technique of getting all your to-dos done by following a systematic series of steps.
Often times, you may have a plethora of tasks in front of you which need to be taken care of, or you may experience a sudden outburst of inspiration to pull off an idea. Now, as David Allen says, ‘Your mind is for having ideas, not storing them’, therefore GTD comes to your rescue to pull these ideas out of your brain and converts them into actions.
GTD is not merely getting-things-done, but a step-by-step way of accomplishing tasks through the basic concept of transferring ideas from your mind into an external system, breaking them down into actionable steps and then finally, getting them done.
By following the GTD method, your brain will not have to remember and keep track of every other thing (which is humanly impossible anyway).
The correct implementation of the method can free up some of the brainpower and thus, increases the overall productivity of an individual or a team.
Let’s dive in to discover the basic pillars of the GTD method and how it can be implemented.
GTD Method Implementation:
The GTD approach is implemented through a sequence of steps which essentially makes up the 5 pillars of this method, which are:
If there’s something you need to do that’s stuck in your mind, you have to get it out, to get it done. Clearing your mind of all the clutter and properly organizing your tasks is one way of effectively dealing with things.
The first step of implementing the GTD method is to collect what’s stuck in your mind. This can be anything ranging from professional pending emails, phone calls, appointments, to simply cleaning your wardrobe. Transfer all these tasks to an external system which can be a task management tool, a simple to-do list app or even a paper.
Often times, the human mind acts like a big hoarder of ideas, no matter how trivial they are. In order to properly convert all these muddled ideas into viable actions, you need to distinguish the actionable and non-actionable tasks to get rid of the ones that cannot be done, thus clearing up some brain memory. This makes up the second step of the GTD method.
Start processing the tasks that are jotted down in front of you and break them into smaller, more manageable actions to clear the clutter and get a clear picture of what lies ahead.
After you’ve decided the actionable tasks, categorize and prioritize them according to due dates or urgency to effectively organize them. There are numerous tasks in front of you, some of which you don’t need to do right away, but the only record, so put them away in a place where you can retrieve them later when needed.
But, how exactly do you organize your tasks? Through the decision tree of the GTD method! A simple decision-making process assisting you in categorizing your tasks via a series of questions which eventually lead to appropriate actions.
You need to decide if your particular tasks are actionable and then move forward towards other questions to decide what exactly you need to do.
Let’s have a look at this tree for a better understanding:
It’s not as confusing as it might look, because once you get a hold of it, you can easily make decisions about your next course of action.
This is also where the concept of ‘contexts’ come into play. Categorize your tasks according to the context they’re referring to and link similar tasks together. For instance; important follow-up emails that need to be made will be grouped under the ‘email’ context. Doing this makes tracking of tasks extremely convenient and quick.
You can master the game of organizing by dividing your to-dos into appropriate task lists, according to their priority and urgency levels. You need to decide first whether the task is actionable or not. If it’s not, you move it to trash, references, or a someday/maybe list.
Task Lists in GTD
- Trash: the items that are not worth your time and do not require any kind of attention are moved in the trash list
- References: this list consists of all the useful information that does not require any action, but that might be needed sometime in the near future
- Someday/Maybe List: category of all the tasks that you’re not sure if should be done right away. Put them away, but regularly review them to see if any action needs to be taken
Now, this brings us to the second aspect, the actionable tasks. If the task is actionable, you further need to determine whether the next action can be done within 2 minutes. Do it right away if it can be done in under 2 minutes. If not, put it in the ‘projects’ list. In the GTD context, a ‘project’ is anything that requires more than one step to complete. If the tasks require more than one step to complete, place them in any of the following three categories:
- Waiting for List: all the tasks that you have delegated to other people for execution
- Next Action List: actions that need to be done, but are without any due date
- Calendar: actions that are to be completed on a specific date or time
Once you’ve organized your tasks, you’re one step closer to getting them done smartly.
For GTD to work effectively, you need to frequently review your workflow. In-depth analysis for monitoring the progress and identifying the next to-do actions greatly help in reflecting back at your decisions and what adjustments you need to make.
Finally, just get started with the tasks and begin working on them. Everything is right in front of you, from due dates to priority levels. You just need to get to work and get done with things.
The 14 Best GTD Apps in the Market
Now that we’ve covered the basic concepts revolving around GTD method, you’re probably wondering if there are any getting things done tools and apps which help in implementing it, and yes there are! Numerous applications are specifically designed and developed to work with this distinctive method.
We’ve gathered and tested some of the best GTD apps that help you in getting more done. These are:
nTask makes it to the top of our list of the best GTD apps merely because of the fact that this simple to use application has everything that makes GTD implementation smooth for you. The software is packed with capabilities which make way for the method to work perfectly well and synchronize effectively with the core components.
It’s designed to help teams and project managers from all industries to intuitively organize their projects and tasks in a way that helps them in getting things done faster.
Let’s have a look at some of the features of nTask and how they facilitate light and crisp take on the GTD method:
No matter how big or small a task is, with nTask, you can capture or list down all your to-dos in the form of a checklist and convert them to independent projects. This sets the basis for the next step of clarifying where you can create tasks and subtasks to get things done in an organized manner.
You just need to deport all the things (whether professional or personal) which are in your mind into the nTask software and TADA! You just took a leap towards better task management.
Clarifying what exactly needs to be done is one of the prime concerns revolving around the GTD method. By using nTask, you can conveniently divide all your big projects into smaller, actionable tasks and subtasks to get a clear picture of what lies ahead.
The tasks which need to be done in the future can be easily scheduled in your calendar, and you can even delegate tasks to respective team members by using the assign tasks feature.
The next step in the GTD method is organizing all the tasks according to their category and priority level. With nTask is action, with just a few clicks, you can set priority levels according to the need and urgency of tasks, and can even set reminders for the due ones to stay updated with the tasks in line. Through useful task filters, find and view the tasks that you need in front of you and work on them.
As for the categorization of actions into specific lists, you can create distinct projects catering to each type of category and then associate relevant tasks pertaining to the level of urgency. nTask provides a platform to systematically organize the things that need to be done without getting into the frustration of having too much to do.
You can only achieve true productivity through constant review and feedback. Reflect back on your actions throughout the project and make amendments where needed. nTask makes reviewing the project performance easy through the built-in feature of Gantt charts. Apart from these charts, you can timely review your calendar to see where you stand at the moment and what can be your next to-do action with respect to the distinct projects.
If you follow the first four steps of the GTD method properly, the last step will be as easy as pie. When you have everything in front of you, systematically organized and categorized, the final execution will demand no additional effort from you and your tasks’ ship will be all set to sail smoothly.
Free and Pro plan. Pro plan is for $2.99 per user/month.
Looking for a perfect GTD tool?
nTask is free and lets you create unlimited tasks, checklists, meetings and more.
Second, on our list of the best GTD apps is FacileThings. A productivity tool specifically designed to implement getting things done philosophy, FacileThings allow you to organize and manage your tasks by keeping in view all the essential components of the GTD structure.
It’s a GTD app which is meant for people who strictly follow the GTD methodology. The tool caters individually to each and every component of the method in a way that you have all the options to follow through the steps one by one or fill in details in a random pattern, all pertaining to your needs.
With an aesthetically pleasing design and easy to understand interface, FacileThings tries to fit every GTD component into one workflow to make getting things done easily for you. Easily capture ideas like a simple notepad, clarify and organize according to their course of action, and finally review them on a weekly basis to monitor performance.
30 Days free trial and paid monthly plans. Paid plans start at $12 per month.
In complete contrast with FacileThings, Todoist takes a rather simplistic approach on the GTD method and works on quick brain-dump of ideas by creating to-do lists, organizing and prioritizing tasks, creating subtasks and dependencies as well as creating projects and subprojects.
With due dates and recurring tasks reminders, you can easily organize all your tasks according to their frequency of occurrence and check off the tasks that have been done. In this way, you can get a clear picture of all the tasks currently in progress and the ones which need to be done in the future.
Furthermore, through Todoist, you can also review your project’s performance via visually appealing charts and graphs which help in understanding the current progress and future actions for goals achievement.
Free for Basic and Premium ($29 per year) plans.
Our fourth recommendation for the best GTD apps is Nirvana.
Nirvana is a cloud-based task manager which is specifically built for the implementation of the GTD method. The application comes with built-in features of how much time and energy a task will need to complete, along with an option to set due dates to stay on track with the upcoming projects.
The application also comes pre-loaded with lists labeled as next, waiting, scheduled, and someday which make clarifying and organizing step of implementing GTD method extremely convenient to implement.
There are tags available to put your tasks into the professional and personal division for easy access. There are multiple other task preferences too which make the application highly customized and user-friendly.
Free (basic features) and paid plans. Paid plans begin at $5 per month.
A GTD application dedicated to Mac and iOS users, OmniFocus is a beautiful solution to get things done. It wouldn’t be a stretch if we say that it can be considered as one of the top to-do list applications. The tool is designed specifically to implement the methodology in the most effective way possible.
Easily add actions and don’t miss anything. To make things easy for you, this can be done using Siri too, so you don’t have to manually write anything. Convert your actions into projects and categorize them according to your requirements.
You can add perspectives to your projects to give them context and understand them better. OmniFocus comes with a high degree of structure which lets you manage your projects easily through a myriad of features. Which is why it can come off as over-whelming for first-time users, but the application has got some pretty strong features to smartly deal with your tasks.
Pro ($99.99), Standard ($49.99) plans
Moving on to the next best GTD app – Evernote. A popular note-taking application which comes equipped with an intelligent toolset for managing your to-dos. The application provides tons of built-in features for you to organize your thoughts comprehensively.
If you’re prone to losing useful information that you found online, you don’t have to anymore. With the web clipping feature, bookmark any links you find online and access them later at any time you want.
Not only this, if typing is one of your pet peeves, conveniently save ideas in Evernote through voice commands by using Google or Siri as your assistant. You can then organize them into notes, set reminders, and use tags to give them context.
- Premium at $7.99/month
- Business at $14.99 per user/month
#7 on this compile up of best GTD apps is 2Do. Free on Android and reasonably priced for Mac and iOS users, 2Do comes with a feature set that makes GTD implementation seamless for you. Create task lists and add tags as context to quickly find them.
Organize your task lists by categorizing them under specific color codes. This also helps in distinguishing categories from one another and quickly accessing them whenever required.
The quick add feature of the application enables you to instantly capture your ideas before they slip your mind. The application also has built in fields for adding specific details to your tasks. Individual tasks come with reminders at a set time to allow you to execute them without any lags.
You can also batch multiple tasks together and simply drag and drop on the calendar to create a work schedule quickly.
- 2Do for Android – Free
- iOS App – $14.99
- Mac client – $49.99
Notion is a sophisticated note-taking application which comes with multiple task management features. The application allows you to successfully write down your to-dos in the form of notes or a checklist, and execute them smartly.
This lightweight GTD app enables you to convert your to-dos into respective projects and tasks and check their progress through Kanban boards. The tool also comes with a knowledge base which acts as a central place for storing all the important information.
Additionally, create team dashboards and invite team members to collaborate on key performance indicators.
Free, Personal ($4 per month), Team ($8 per member/month), and Enterprise ($16 per member/month) plans
As the name suggests, Things is a GTD app that transforms your thoughts into easy to-do lists and gives you clarity. With a simple user interface and easy drag and drop options, organizing lists in Things is easier than ever.
You can add more details to your tasks and give context to them through tags, start date, and deadlines. Use Siri to give voice commands for creating reminder alerts. The tool also provides multiple reports for monitoring your project performance, like pie charts.
The customizable animation toolkit allows you to have fun while getting things done. Moreover, the sidebar can be easily collapsed on iPad to focus only on the current list.
The only disadvantage of Things is that it’s only Mac and iOS supported.
- $9.99 for iPhone
- $19.99 for iPad
- $49.99 for Mac
Firetask is strictly for Mac and iOS users; the company wanted to release something to help make GTD oriented projects easier for managers. Right now, the Mac App store is oozing with over 100 different applications. All of these apps are centered around task management, managerial aspects, and vice versa.
However, those applications that actually focus on the ‘Getting Things Done’ criterion are pretty much hard to come by – and that too, if you are looking for long term reliability factor. Due to such reasons, we believe that the actual “kicker” comes in the form of a very smooth learning curve.
Firetask has a very simple and unique design. By default, you get the two-pane design in the same window. One of the panes is dedicated to task groupings. The secondary pane at the side appends the current “Foci” that you have clicked on. For instance, you can select a grouping or a single task in the left pane. The right pane will further show all kinds of details in the information palette inside the second pane.
In short, it’s concise, clear and comes with an abundance of clutter-free salient data sets.
Firetask Basic Version: FREE for Mac OS
Firetask Pro Version: $19.99 Per/M for Mac OS
As the name suggests, Focuster is all about helping professionals “Focus” on a bunch of work-related activities for their entire team. It is a complete visual overhaul of your typical day-to-day activities alongside flawless integration with Google Calendar for efficient appendage of those tasks.
Professional activities sort out all your appointments throughout the week. It is like having a secretary, but with a more visually appealing approach. The windowpane is divided into 3 different columns by default. At the extreme left side, Focuster shows a To-Do List. Then there are active tasks in the middle panel, while the right panel shows a date wise categorization of the entire schedule.
You can find out more details at the official Focuster website.
- Basic Version: $7.99 per month
- Pro Version: $14.99 per month
Nozbe comes as a concise business-oriented solution for managers and professionals on the move. Compared to Firetask and Focuster, Nozbe is not restricted to one particular operating system; they have a wider audience reach over Windows, Linux, and even cellphones if you are away from your desktop.
Since Nozbe is loaded with all kinds of integrations with Evernote, Google and DropBox to name a few, the learning curve of this application is a little steep. But, once you get the hang of it, you will truly realize its potential in terms of literally ‘Getting Things Done’ without any apparent setbacks.
From a cursory point of view, Nozbe offers different task panes. At the back end, they are synchronized with Google Calendar and Evernote. Once you have a task in progress, you can drag and drop different subtasks and team members to stay on the same page.
There is also a litter of options to categorize and further sort these activities as per their priority. The most important tasks are pushed forward, while the secondary nature work gets appended further down your “today’s To Do list” pane.
The best thing about Nozbe is all the templates, which are created after the program “learns” about your activity planning. If you repeatedly do the same kind of tasks on daily basis, the program suggests a template that can be used generally for all activities. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
- Basic Version: $10 per month
- Small Business Edition: $23 per month
- Business & Enterprise Edition: $99 per month
13. Todo by Appigo
‘Appigo’ is a US-based software company; they have developed a lot of products for professionals coming from different market sectors. If you haven’t heard of Appigo, you should explore their featured programs for reporting, gamification and overall team collaboration purpose – long before even considering Todo.
Anyhow, Todo comes as a fully-fledged GTD app after the company performed a couple of detailed market analysis. They wanted to create something that even working professionals could use as a family, while on vacations or deployed at off-site facilities.
Todo has a widespread following over Mac OS, Windows, Mobile and Linux. The program allows the user to create virtual milestones within dedicated projects. You can further assign team members and categorize their roles as per their tasks. On top of that, there is a very clear clutter-free interface in Todo; it was to maintain the attention span of new users at first sight.
The only caveat of Todo is that it does not automatically synchronize with your other devices.
- Basic Version: Free
- Cloud Version: $19.99 per month
- Business Version with Cloud Features: $39.99 per year
Besides a fancy name after our own heart, comes as a strong GTD app for those who want a personalized solution. The application carries a very simple to-the-point interface for managing weeks’ long schedule and all the activities that follow afterward.
TickTick is versatile, but it leans heavily on the “personal” to-do list management instead of business-oriented focus. Now that doesn’t mean that teams cannot use this program, it’s just that you would do better if you are using this software at a small-to-medium scale.
The program color codes different tasks as per their priority. Primarily you get a calendar like a window with the addition of different tags support for setting up checkpoints. Once a task is complete, you can omit the check-box with a simple tap!
- Basic Version: Free!
- Premium Version: $2.99 per month or $27.99 Annually.
Do you have a suggestion for a free project management software that follows the GTD approach? Feel free to comment below with your suggestions.
Experience team collaboration like never before
Manage your team, tasks, projects and more on a single platform. Sign up today, it's free.