One software lie ... [[GTD-ness]]

Software features often are a lie… let me elaborate on that.


This post is a bit off the topic of Drafts. But I am sure that some of the community members are interested in this topic - please tell me if I am right or wrong.

I was reading through Zettelkasten Usage: Analog or Digital - #10 by guleh and thought that this might interesting for some peoples to think about with me and other GTD-fans.

I have to say that Drafts is one of this apps (or even applications) that really stands out and that is NOT fitting into the category I describe here.

It has been over twenty year since I read the GTD-book by David Allen. Sadly David himself was using and utilizing Lotus Notes during his first decades of work life and therefore lived completely in his own world without generating a official GTD software.
Up to my knowledege he still is hesitant to state on those claims to GTD made from many software and keeps repeating in his book about the core feature “List Managers”.

But hence name dropping is cool - as I am guilty myself of many times - and GTD is hip, nearly every task manager claims to be GTD. I mean in a sense they are because GTD is the short form for “getting things done” and a task manager helps you getting things done - right?

But GTD in David Allen’s definition is more. A toolset of good and simply ideas combined to a powerful system. The 2 minute rule for example is a very interesting concept that I try to teach my children in any context - I even make a 5 min rule out of it.

what is the 2-minute-rule

If something is done in 2 minutes or less.
Do it right away - to manage it inside your system will take more time.

I find my systems to be more complex why I stocked up to 5 minutes

So does every GTD-stating task-manager not implementing the two minute rule lie?

GTD as the GTD-system is a very great definition of how to organize tasks and projects and not get lost in the daily and weekly walk with them.

David states this as his “trusted system”. And the quest for a trusted system is often a very hard and long one. Interestingly I found Things on iOS to be a very good (in a sense of OK) system - but this only since i totally wracked their implementation of objects - more about that later.

As a software-engineer working in a team and a love to definition and philosophy I found that:

Software is sum of the frozen thoughts of a/the developer(s)

Therefore it is not the way of implementing it but a way. And if your way of thinking matches up with the way of thinking of the developer you can use the software. If not you might be able to bend your thoughts into the software or (sometimes) bend the software to your way of thinking.

Lets do an example:

  • GTD defines tasks that you need to do
  • GTD sorts that tasks inside of contexts to do them in batches and to filter them if the context does not apply
  • GTD defines a task as a step in a project - something not get to a goal or outcome by more than one step

Not to the implementation:

  • Things defines tasks and sorts them in projects - nice and good
  • Things defines tags to be maybe used as contexts
  • Things does not give a simple or top-level way to access those contexts
  • But it gives you many layers to set start and due dates - nothing a task in GTD is mentioned to have

If you stop and think a moment about GTD and your daily needs this sorting of Things is kind of strange.
To put things inside a project is a logical step.
But not to put them in context that will help you daily access it later is quite against GTD that I only can shake my head about it.

So even Things - one software that I trust to be my GTD-system - has pitfalls as deep and wide as that basic GTD-concept.

So what did I do to continue using Things?

  • I sort my tasks in Things in contexts (formerly known as Things projects - but now never used as such from me inside my contexts areas)
  • I also create projects (from projects) and put reference information, ideas and goals into them and review them regularly
  • but my tasks in the contexts are not connected to the projects in my project and someday maybe lists
Is this a problem?

Not for me. I found the sorting in contexts to be much more helpful to really get things done.
But please decide for yourself!

The strange thing about this is, that I did that task-in-project-sorting for years and not getting the hurdle it created for me.

The connection between a task and a project is still there - not in the software but in my brain.
I do not need the connection in the software. I need the software to help me remember the tasks in the context and not the task depending on the project.

A complete different trail is the difference between tasks (actionable things) and ideas.
But this will not be part of this topic.

So my (kind of harsh) statement is that software (or the developers) are lying about there GTD-ness of software. Or even replace the feature of GTD with other aspects. (e.g. Zettelkasten…)

I would love to read your opinion on this…

Did you find the holy grail of GTD-software?
Did you have similar moment of - what am I doing?

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve been trying the Zettelkasten approach and have come to the conclusion that the Drafts App with all the superb actions and an amazing forum is all you need. GTD or Zettelkasten as you’ve correctly called out is a mirage in the digital set up. Drafts is enough.

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Draft at least is a very open system if text is enough for your setup.

I would say “is enough for me” because many people love to use screen shots in their second brain or add audio and that will - hopefully - not be mixed into drafts …

I am a veteran GTD user and do experience all of the outcomes that David describes. The quest for an appropriate toolset has been a journey over many years. I have evaluated every software solution that looked like basically being suitable for fully applying the method in an easy way, i.e. without any workarounds and especially meeting the UX postulate “Don’t make me think [about stuff I shouldn’t be required to think about, so that I can save my cognitive energy for valuable thinking]” .

Some solutions come close, some are quite there but with a usability which in insufficient for me. IQ-Tell was one of the best, especially due to it being an e-mail client at the same time and thus e-mails could be seamlessly integrated in the GTD workflow.

The best in my opinion is FacileThings, here is a good overview over the features: FacileThings Tutorial: Capturing Stuff

A person familiar with GTD and with its key success factors most likely will be intrigued within a couple of minutes.

What GTD & Zettelkasten do share: Very few people seem to savvy the key success factors of these methods and thus either don’t apply them even though they should and if they apply them, they miss out on doing what makes the difference between just another way to organise yourself and unleashing a potential that perhaps even can’t be imagined.

This is very interesting. May I ask, how do you link between draft documents? And this would imply that you are saving your drafts documents in drafts. I thought it was more for where things began and then we were supposed to shift them elsewhere?

What do you do with pictures you want to save? By that I mean illustrations that come in an email page or writing that you would like to keep together?

Have you read the documentation on linking?

That is certainly how many people use it, myself included, but Drafts has come a long way since the days of that being the only thing it did. This forum is packed with a huge number of ways people are using Drafts … and yet it is still only the tip of the iceberg for the whole community of Drafts users.

Not necessarily an approach @yashodhankhare may be using, but this assets feature of preview is worth a read, and if you search the forum for image discussions, you might well find a few more options.