iGTD

Details of iGTD Pro Released


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Bartek has released the details of his plans for upgraded versions of his excellent iGTD. Specifically there will continue to be the free version (basic) but he will be adding "iGTD Home and Office" that allows you to sync between Macs and "iGTD Pro" which allows you sync with the web. While I am continuing to use OmniFocus, iGTD is really tempting me. Since I have a windows box at the office it would be really nice to log in to my iGTD data from it. Omni has been quiet about syncing features but I do understand they are racing to finish the 1.0 version. If Omni could just get a reliable iPhone sync that doesn't require me to turn my MacBook into a server, that would probably be enough for me. Still and all, I'll have to keep my eye on iGTD.

You can read about the different versions of iGTD right here.

Moving to OmniFocus


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While I've been a member of the OmniFocus "Sneaky Peek" for some time now I hadn't really embraced it yet. This is a result of the fact that things have been very busy lately and I've got such a smooth workflow with iGTD that I, frankly, wasn't all that motivated. I then began a series of email correspondence with Robin Trew, who is, by they way, much smarter than I. Rob put together an amazing apple script that yanked about 250 tasks out of iGTD and dropped them into OmniFocus in as much time as it took me to brew and consume a cup of green tea.

Rob having saved me the tedium of transferring data, I began playing in earnest with OmniFocus a few days ago and it looks like I'm not going back to iGTD. I'm not taking anything away from iGTD which is a very good application (and free!). Indeed, with Quicksilver triggers and other features I think iGTD is, in several ways, superior to the current OmniFocus alpha I'm working on. However, after a few days usage I can already see the writing on the wall. Frankly I'm willing to have a little less efficient input in exchange for other benefits in OmniFocus. Specifically, I find the ease of use in moving and copying task groups, the better data management, the ease of use in designating projects with concurrent or subsequent tasks and the general fit and finish of the program have me hooked. Rob also explained the data security in OmniFocus is better. Being that I was an arts major and I still leave cheese out at nights just in case there IS a little mouse inside my Mac on a wheel, I'm simply going to paste Rob's explanation here.

"The iGTD approach of storing everything in a single binary (SQLite) file does introduce a slight vulnerability - a binary file can be quite hard to retrieve things from if it gets corrupted. Omnifocus also uses SQL internally, but it stores everything on disk as a cloud of (gzipped) XML files - one for each transaction, which is inherently rather robust. (Regular backups are streamed out as single XML files, which, like the small transaction files, become human-readable as soon as you gunzip them in the Terminal).


There is a more lucid and authoritative account here."

So it looks like I'll be talking more about OmniFocus and less about iGTD. Unless, of course, OmniFocus is not up to the task and then you will hear all the gory details right here. For those iGTD faithful I say stick with it. If it weren't for OmniFocus, I certainly would. I don't think questions as to which tool you use to accomplish your productivity is really, at the end of the day, all that important. The question is whether you actually are productive.

Using My Moleskine and My Teeth


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I've been using the low tech Moleskine method for tracking to do items when away from my Mac a few weeks now and can report I'm very pleased with it. I read a few of the forums at iGTD and the Missing Sync and it still appears there is a certain degree of black magic involved with getting a reliable sync between the Treo and iGTD. You could spend hours on it and you still seem to risk data corruption with every sync. I just keep the Moleskine in my pocket and when I'm away from my Mac and something occurs to me that needs to get done, I jot a quick note. At least once a day I go through that list and, if it is an easy task, I just do it. Othewise, it goes into the iGTD jumble. At that point it gets crossed off the moleskine list and I'm done with it. I also keep a miniaturized print out of the iGTD database in my Moleskine pocket. Granted this would be nice to do electronically but until it gets just as easy and MUCH more reliable. I'm sticking with this system. Someone who saw me using it said, "Hey Dave ... You are a geek why aren't you putting that in you Treo." While granted I am a Geek, I also just want to get these things done. Whatever works. It reminds me of something an incredible woodworker, Sam Maloof, once told me when I was taking a class from him. "Use whatever tool works best. If it is easier to use a saw, use as saw .. If it is easier to use your teeth, use your teeth."

iGTD .. it just keeps getting better


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Today iGTD released another update. I don't know if Bartek has help or is just superhuman but this program just gets more and more polished with every update. I am using it for all of my task management and there are currently about 250 tasks being tracked in oodles of projects.

Granted I am a HUGE fan of the OmniGroup applications, OmniFocus really has a contender here. As an aside I'm now officially on the inside of the "sneaky peak" for OmniFocus but I don't have time to really give it a look-see until this weekend.

MacSparky Goes Lo-Tech


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About three weeks ago I gave up on my windows based task system and switched over entirely to iGTD. I keep my laptop with me just about everywhere and this seems to work out. One issue, however, is the inability to keep my task list on my Treo 650. I must sync the smart phone with my office windows lawyer-type program (TimeMatters) and I've found out (the hard way) that syncing a Treo to two different computers can be a very bad thing for data integrity.

Anyway, quite often during the course of my day someone will call, email or walk in my office and tell me of something that will require further action or processing by me at a later time. Stopping what I'm doing and making an iGTD entry is very counterproductive and I needed a better solution. I played around with a few options. I've tried typing tasks into my Treo's task list item but it takes several button presses and the thumbpad doesn't lend itself to spontaneous entry. The best solution I found is to simply scratch a note when I'm away from the Mac and update iGTD next time I'm working in it. So I've been finding myself with this daily pocket full of business cards, sticky pads, napkins, receipts and other flotsam and jetsam that I've written a reminder on. (Did anyone know that you can actually write on a corn chip with a felt tip pen?) When I have time I then empty out my pockets and either take care of the action right their or process it into iGTD.

I was in the book store doing a bit of shopping I saw a display of pretty Moleskine notebooks and had one of those "Aha!" moments. $9.95 later I'm the proud owner of a pocket size Moleskine that has now replaced the scraps of paper and chips in my pocket. So far I'm just making a daily list and scratching things off when they find themselves into iGTD. I did, however, leave the first 10 pages blank in case I decide to go crazy and use one of the many interesting Molekine hacks all over the net like here, here, and here. I've only been using it a few days but so far it is working out nicely. In the pocket I'm keeping a $20 bill, a few cards, and a shrunken printout of the iGTD database. I do need to get a pen that will fit in my pocket though. Maybe I'll find one that attaches to my keyring.

Any other Moleskine users out there? Drop me a note and tell me how you are using yours. As a side note, I also bought the pocket music transcription book. I'm writing a bit of music again and thought it would be handy.

Review - iGTD

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As usual - this review originally appeared on the Surfbits review cast here. You can also hear my dulcet tones on the Reviewcast Podcast #106.


 


While I pride myself on being organized, I've never really been much for the latest organizational fads. Go into any bookstore and you will be tripping over books about how to be more productive. So it was with this mindset that I began reading about David Allen's "Getting Things Done." It seems to be a bit of a Mac phenomenon with many Mac users and bloggers extolling the virtues of this system. I wasn't so sure about GTD but I knew I needed a better way of tracking my to-do list items than what I was getting out of iCal so I began playing with some of the software.


 


I first tried the Kinkless Scripts for OmniOutliner Pro. http://kinkless.com/. While this is an impressive bit of work, it didn't really grab me and I wasn't all that excited about running my task lists through OmniOutliner. I decided to fire up version tracker and stumbled into iGTD. http://bargiel.home.pl/iGTD/ This application hooked me as soon as I started it up. iGTD is a task manager on steroids developed as "Donationware" by Bartek Bargiel, a 26 year old programmer in Poland who's name I probably just butchered. What Bartek has done here is one of the reasons I love my Mac. It doesn't require a multimillion-dollar budget or a hip marketing campaign to make great software on the Mac. With OS X, a guy on the other side of the planet working out of his apartment can make an outstanding application that makes my life easier. I've spent many years trying to get organized on the PC and programs like iGTD simply don't happen there.



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Anyway, on its most basic level iGTD allows you to attach a project to each task such as finances, classes, work projects, or even "obtain world peace." This is all fine and dandy but not particularly new. However, iGTD also allows you to categorize each task by context. For instance I have contexts for email, telephone, sitting at my Mac, shopping, and a variety of other places. Now having placed my task lists into iGTD with these two criteria I can easily sort and conquer. For instance, I'm at the phone talking to an insurance agent to handle a financial task but I have a few more minutes. I can click iGTD to give me a list of all phone tasks. Hey look at that! I'm supposed to make an appointment with the Dalai Lama to figure out that world peace thing. I'll call him right now. I don't profess to be a GTD guru, but sorting your tasks by project and context can really help.


 


What really makes iGTD stand above the other Mac GTD applications is Bartek's commitment to it. It seems like the program updates every few days. I'm wondering if this guy is getting any sleep. He has built in tags, address book links, .Mac synchronization (in beta), iCal synchronization and my two personal favorites, Quicksilver and MailTags 2.0 support. The Quicksilver support is fantastic allowing you to encode the entry along with project, context, priority, due date, and even a note. This allows me to drive a task into iGTD as fast as I can think of it. Enough to make my geeky head explode. If Quicksilver is not your thing, he has also programmed a menubar icon that allows you to drop a task in lickity split. The amazing thing is the feature set seems to grow on a daily basis.


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iGTD is donationware. If you get hooked on this program, I strongly you send a few dollars Bartek's way. I really want this guy to keep developing for the Mac. Another developer that I really like is The Omni Group. I've heard they are also working on a GTD application for the Mac and I will be interested to see that. However, iGTD sets the bar high, and its free. If your are even just curious about GTD or want to get your task list better organized I can confidently recommend iGTD.