I have found Evernote to be a great tool to implement a GTD system. Evernote's greatest strength is its flexibility. It works on basically every platform and integrates with most other tools you use. It doesn't really tell you how to use it though, which is where GTD fits in perfectly. (And it turns out to be really helpful to integrate as much of your system as possible into one tool.)
I found this site to be a great resource getting started with GTD and Evernote: http://www.thesecretweapon.org/
My current system is very similar to what they describe, although I added a 'Waiting' status, which includes both things that need to be done at or after a given time, and things where I want to remember that I'm waiting on something outside my control (a reply to an email, for instance). I set reminders on everything in there.
The one other significant tweak I made is to use notebooks instead of tags for the 'when' portion. Since every task needs to have a 'when', and since every note has one and only one notebook, this seemed like a logical fit. So instead of the 'Current' notebook they recommend, I simply use a Current stack containing a notebook for each priority level.
I also use Powerbot to improve clipping emails from gmail.
Anyway, the details don't matter and are easy to change. The main point is, give GTD on Evernote a try, and you'll be glad you did.
Here's a pretty handy guide showing what you can do with it, and then there's allways the org-mode documentation which outlines all features.
I've got a friend of mine who uses it for literally everything from notetaking to planning projects and billing project time, and I'm slowly getting into it as well. If Evernote's greatest strenght is flexibility, this will certainly give it a run for its money.
The link I have in the post above outlines an efficient org-mode workflow [http://doc.norang.ca/org-mode.html], but since that one is fairly mature and detailed, it's a long document as well. Then there's this fairly short video that just showcases the basic features [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsGYet02bEk] or structure manipulation.
I could give a short overwiev a shot though.
Tree based document structure : Start a line with * to create a top level headline, two * to do a subheadline, use as many ""s as you want to infinitely subdivide tasks and ideas. Toggle entire subtrees from view with a single key combination, or generate a sparse tree that only contains what you need.
Tables: Autoformatting ASCII tables that start on a new line with "|". Mutate rows, columns, use emacs-calc inside of the table.
Todo Items: Create todo's by writing a headline that contains "TODO" as in " TODO sth". Or pressing C-c C-t. Define different sets of todo states globally of per file. (Say BUG | RESOLVED WONTFIX) with any number of intermediate steps or finished states. Create TODO dependencies (just have sub-TODOs under existing TODOs). Add automatic notes to todo states, and or timestamps. Track how much time you've spent on TODOs exactly (say for billing).
Refile entire regions into different files entirely. Say you had your "in"-file, and you're in your project view. You suddenly remember to go pick up milk. Type it into your project view, C-c C-w, autocomplete to your "in" file, refiled.
Agendas : Agendas will cull TODOs, Deadlines, Scheduled tasks and Habits from all your buffers automatically. Want to know what needs to get done at work today? Generate an agenda of all TODOs, Deadlines and Scheduled tasks that have the tag :Work:. Done.
The beauty of it is that you don't have to learn how to do all of that right away. If you know the basic commands you can already get a lot of use out of it, hell, if you know the syntax for TODOs and headlines it's allready usable. But org-mode is there for people who like to tweak their workflow. Everything is tweakable, rebindable, extendable, and it's not limited to usage as a personal planning tool. You can write HTML with it, or insert LaTeX and export to PDF. A lot of those long guides for org-mode have been written in org-mode.
Edit: Now Hackernews formatting is messing with this a little, and thinks double stars mean indentation...now way to escape that though.
In the end, I just ended up reverting back to keeping a simple to-do list in a text file.
Just following it for a short time made my work & life a whole, whole lot better.
I've also noticed that most things I put off, or forget to do, are things are I don't actually want to do anyway and no amount of GTD-ing or tasklisting or anything will ever make me do them. They are just cruft that accumulates.
Better to just let them slip off your viewfinder. One thing I have to improve, though, is doing that consciously. Instead of letting things slip through the cracks, I have to start consciously pushing them through the cracks.
To make a counter argument to your "methodology": There are "small" things that don't seem important relative to other things, but as you get more organized, getting those "small" things done can be very satisfying. Also the energy needed to do them may be small when you remember them in the right context.
Like any new habit you can't hope to form it in two weeks, you need so sustain the effort for at least a few months.
(To be honest, I have experimented with various GTD systems along the years, and was not able to sustain it as well for longer than a few months. However, during crunch time, I find it an incredible tool)
Except, you know, Linux :)
It's also quite slow and I'd rather spend as little time as possible managing my time than waiting for the UI to load and having to mouse around for everything.
(Not to mention all those times where some of my notes were synchronized into oblivion, never to be found again)
I am much more effective using a hierarchy of text files and some simple macros to navigate it, works offline and it's incredibly easy to sync between machines.
Anyway, to each their own. I just wouldn't want someone to give EN a pass without trying it, thinking it's slow and lacks keyboard shortcuts.
Except, you know, Linux :)"
What about NixNote and Everpad ? Didn't use them but I remember they were touted as unofficial Evernote clients for Linux when I was considering switching.
Evernote is still a decent app for keeping notes and filing things away but I've found Wunderlist much easier to use for the general tasks workflow of GTD.
I'd love for you to convince me I'm wrong.
Right now I'm trying Mark Forster's "Ultimate Time Management System", which seems to offer some relief to this problem.
"Look into", "manage", "take care of", "think about"... all pretty vague
In the end I created my own terms like RESEARCH and BRAINSTORM with well-defined actions attached. RESEARCH means "spend a block of time BFSing on Google until you feel satisfied", while BRAINSTORM means "spend time in front of a whiteboard/piece of paper and dump your problem until you're able to identify specific courses of actions, which then will become your actionable items".
But in the end, I still feel that some problems are not well-suited for GTD - mostly those requiring to improvise as you go along.
If there's a misfit between a problem and GTD, the challenge is to figure out how to frame the problem properly.
To zoom out a little- GTD won't create an inspiring work of art, but GTD will manage the artist's schedule, and free her up to read more, meet other artists more, get inspired more, etc.
You can use a second calendar in place of GTD's 'tickler' file. Just hide the calendar, and set the default reminder to 'email'. That way, you receive an email when you need to action a tickler, and can then assign that email to 'next action' or whatever.
Still, I like Evernote for its flexibility. Voice notes, pictures, clipped webpages to later reference, etc. Also ease of linking between notes and more flexibility and power in tagging than gmail (thinking nested tags on mobile). And I already used it in place of bookmarking for any reference material (since full-text search is so much easier than trying to catalog something I might need in years or never), so it made sense for me to use the same thing for GTD.
But I imagine any functional GTD systems is going to do the job pretty well. What works best for each person will certainly vary!
At first I thought this mainly had to do with my own lack of discipline, but now I think it's mainly because GTD just doesn't work for every kind of task, project, or occupation.
The main problem, I think, is that GTD assumes:
1. that you can always cut up a task into smaller actions
2. that you can do a next action in one sitting, and
3. that having 'stuff' in your head is bad.
I've found that for some things this applies, and in those cases one might use GTD. But for many other things these three items don't apply, and then GTD can actually be counter-productive.
For example, a creative task might not be doable in one sitting, but it might also not be concrete enough to split up into smaller next actions. Furthermore, for a lot of creative stuff it might actually be very useful to have it 'hanging around' in your head as 'stuff'.
Basically, I found that there's an inverse correlation between the effectiveness of GTD and the amount of creativity needed for a task.
I've settled on Mark Forster's AutoFocus (Final Version) (as mentioned elsewhere here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8629066) for most of my current stuff, as it's more organic and more fitting to what I do now. If I were to have more managerial-type work I might switch back to GTD though.
(and of course there are many principles from GTD that are useful to me even if I don't use the full system)
Right now my five year plan is to stabilize all areas of my life (finances, living situations, self). I'm starting with self, and my first individual goal is getting out of bed the first time I wake up.
So far so good. And since theres no restrictions on what I do otherwise I get a ton of things done in the morning but I never feel stressed if, for instance, I don't get around to studying all the French I'd like to.
Somethings which are a bit more time intensive like keeping a journal I make alternate tasks. So instead of just keeping a journal, every day I'd make it a point to either write in a journal, record my dreams, or write down all of the fool things I've done in a day (on the recommendation of Dale Carnegie who found the idea from Benjamin Franklin). This gives me a bit more liberty, dreams tend to be recorded in the morning, journals can be written in anytime, and the introspection of a day takes place in the evening. Then if I go out and party I don't need to feel stressed about breaking a goal when I wake up in the morning.
It's simple. It's easy. It's positive habit forming. And it feels great.
I don't know if they solved the problem though.
I have an answer for this one, and I think the War of Art captures it- it's the pain of missed obligations, unfulfilled promises, etc. Anxiety, stress, difficulty sleeping, etc. 'Mr Super Productivity' is a bit of a strawman- I think most people would be happy just to say "I have regularly productive days and I am on top of my work and my commitments".
I know what it's like to think "it's not so bad, I can just waffle my way through life". It means upsetting parents, teachers, girlfriends, friends, the spouse. It means disappointing people.
Maybe the problem is taking it too far.
This was my experience. The question I had were surprisingly hard to answer.
1. What is GTD and does it work?
2. If GTD is failing for me is it because I am not doing it wrong?
3. If GTD is failing for me is it because my implementation is wrong (i.e wrong tool or badly designed app)
The problem with the GTD system, as much as I have enjoyed using it, is that there is no reference system to verify correct usage. The usual path taken, for those who are patient and motivated, is that of hacking your way through the books, tutorials and apps out there until it feels right. The 'it feels right' feeling comes if you actually feel like you are on top of your work load. The system you end up with that works for you (when you eventually get to this place), may look very different from what the book described or what you initially envisaged.
GTD is more like meditation than a system. It's hard to learn it by reading about it. You only know you are doing it right when your life feels lighter and more productive.
1. Next tasks: Helps me identify new opportunities to work on. And take next obvious steps to any task, where others aren't seeing. In fact one would be surprised how many great opportunities lurk in the next tasks.
2. Weekly reviews: Helps me take quick iterations of feed back on the week and immediately improve by applying the feedback to the next week. This at times over some months(When I'm working using GTD really well) has lead to runaway improvements in many areas of my work.
3. Writing it down and prioritizing: I use a normal pen and paper. Tracking, drawing doodles, other things is very easy. Writing down tasks and prioritizing helps me eliminate an entire tree of unimportant tasks and pick up the important ones. This combined with the weekly review can be a very powerful tool.
Lastly the efficiency of GTD depends entirely on our efficiency to take things seriously and work on them.
And GTD is a framework, nearly all GTD practitioners I know of ultimately build something over GTD that works for them.
In my experience, there are plenty of excellent software tools, on the surface. If you want to innovate, I think you might want to think broader -- about how GTD systems actually succeed or fail.
If you were to ask me about the weakest links in GTD software, it has less to do with the "core" software and more to do with behavior. Challenges I've seen include: (a) Forming the habit to use a new GTD tool; (b) Continuing to use it even when life gets in the way and you revert to another system (such as using email, ug); (c) Making it appealing to return to after a break, knowing that there will left-over cruft in there.
Many successful entrepreneurs started by inventing a new to-do list. This is because it is the only way to come to terms with what it means to get things done at all.
There is literally no better use of a first-time entrepreneur's time than reinventing to-dos.
If for no other other reason than due to the sheer absurdity of the idea of procrastinating over creating a to-do list. It's something you can't help but do immediately, and is "self-hosting"!
I might have been exaggerating, but I think it's a good exercise in coming to terms with your abilities and task management ideas in general, to create your own to-do system ahead of anything else you're doing.
Also, tracking wins has helped me feel much better about my productivity. Good for a mood boost or shot of confidence, to glance through it.
But yes, it starts from the premise of building to that bottom-up, not top-down. Once you have your flow/sense of control, David Allen said, your brain is unlocked to think hard of the more important things.
The gist of FV is that it takes "psychological inertia" into account to a certain degree - something, that many other systems lack.
To be honest, I never tried it and I don't use any time management system, but maybe it's worth a try for people who don't like GTD.
This part could be done automatically. I don't know any app, which does it, though. Is it a good idea to automate this or do GTD-users get some benefits out of doing it manually?
I just got the book from the library and the reviews seem a little mixed.
 - www.amazon.com/Getting-Results-Agile-Way-Personal/dp/0984548203
David Allen refers to the weekly review as the critical success factor.
And that's the one that I fall down on and then things slide and I get afraid to look in the 'bucket'.
Actually it's a bit like Allen's "Put it by the door" technique.
Doing stuff when you're smartest to help you when you're at your most dumb
It's a great feeling when you're dealing with a once in a blue moon task to discover that you've left some helpful notes for yourself in a place you'll find them.
I particularly liked this review :-)
"I actually never got around to reading this. No, I'm not joking. I'm sure it's a good book. I might read it some day, when I have time..."
I mean, now that I have this cool framework for dealing with procrastination, it won't hurt to put off this task for one more day, right?