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May jump ship to Omnifocus for better GTD



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Joshua

Posted: Jan 08, 2010
Score: 0



I've been using Toodledo (Pro) for over a year now and really have liked it, but I think I am outgrowing its current abilities. Plus my former dual life as a PC (at work) and Mac (at home) has changed and I am using Mac at both. Lastly, I really need a system which handles project/next action management in a stronger manner. I've used subtasks and appreciate the better control Toodledo has added there, but it seems Omnifocus handles these better. I have been using a variation of Proximo's GTD setup for about the last six months.

Anybody want to suggest why I shouldn't move from Toodledo to Omnifocus? Anyone have experience with it? I know it has some weaknesses, but for me at this point I need further control, better project/next action management, and easier to use UI to manage my growing tasklist. And as David Allen notes, if you don't trust your or can't easily input data into your system it is not going to work for you.

If I do move off Toodledo I will still support it and suggest it to friends needing a good online task manager, but maybe it is not for me anymore. =(

Thanks for any input.

--Joshua


This message was edited Jan 09, 2010.
mco

Posted: Jan 09, 2010
Score: 0



I think whether you would be happier with OmniFocus than Toodledo depends strongly on the nature of your work and how you prefer to go about it. I have tried many times to use Omnifocus (I have both the mac and iphone version) and have reverted back to Toodledo each time. OF's strengths are also its weaknesses:

* Sync is very careful not to lose data, but occasionally tells you that your database is not compatible with the sync database, and must be replaced. This is particularly annoying on an iPhone if you are out and about. Sync is still very slow on the iPhone, although sync times have been improved. Sync times go up quickly if items are moved around.

* OF has a lot of features, and a correspondingly complicated user interface. While it is possible to customize the ui, it always seemed to me to require trade-offs and consequences I wasn't happy with.

* The data structure appears flexible, but in fact is not. Actions must be in projects, period. I often have tasks that I want to assign to an area of focus, but not to a project at the time the task comes up. The only way to do this is to have a folder, say Admin, containing a special single-action folder, called say Admin, in addition to projects within the Admin folder.

* I find assignment of an item to a project unpleasant. When you begin to type an entry, you start getting suggested matches. So in the example above, if I typed for a project "Ad" I would get all the Admin projects, including "Admin:Admin", the single-action "project" list. If you had a project called AA, it would show that too, because it also looks for acronyms. I think the implementation in Things is much better, with a drop-down navigation tool that lets you quickly steer an item to where it needs to go.

* While you can have sub-tasks, a task with subtasks will not itself appear on a context list if all subtasks are done. This takes aways some of the value of the planning features of OF: if you finish all the subtasks, it's up to you to notice that this task (really a project component) needs attention. Although OF will find stalled projects for you, it will not find stalled sub-projects.

* Clipping, which seems attractive, easily becomes a nuisance for me. It bulks up the data to be synced, and leads to a blending of actionable and non-actionable items, and consequent breakdown of the system.

All that said, OF is a sophisticated, reliable program. If you want or need to spend time planning out most of your project steps in detail, this is a good program to try. You will need time to adapt yourself to OF. On the other hand, Things and Toodledo probably appeal more to more people, judging from their relative popularity. My ideal program would probably be a cross between Toodledo and Things.
Joshua

Posted: Jan 11, 2010
Score: 0



@mco: thanks for your input.

I found these post, podcast, and screencasts which really help explain how OmniFocus & Things work. As @mco noted, Things is more comparable to Toodledo. I think users of Toodledo can even gain by watching how they can optimize their setups.

http://themacscreencastguy.com/blog/2009/11/10/things-vs-omnifocus.html?lastPage=true&postSubmitted= true

In many ways I think what attracts me to OmniFocus is it is "true" in its GTD implementation whereas Things & Toodledo are more freeform. I liked the freefrom abilities of Toodledo at first, but now think it is hurting me.

Also, the biggest downfall to my current GTD setup in Toodledo is Projects. I have them set to be denoted in the Folder field, and put subtasks under them. Due to Toodledo's implementation, each task I create (with other fields, which I use on every task I make) must be created at the top of the screen and the dragged to a Project. Therefore, I don't usually make Projects, I end up with many individual tasks (some related, but not grouped). This seems, for me, to promote single tasks almost exclusively.

Lastly, in Toodledo I yearn for a "Next Action" view based on the next subtask (or task) in a sequence which seems elusive. I like how we can order subtasks now, but setting up a custom search and filing via Folder seem unintuitive to me.

Am I crazy or do I have the wrong Toodledo setup? Or do others have some of the same challenges? I suppose I want to try a more pure GTD setup at this stage of my worklife, and am think I am in he minority, therefore think OmniFocus (unlike Toodledo or Things) is my best route.
Quang

Posted: Jan 12, 2010
Score: 0



Hey Joshua,

Not sure about Omnifocus, perhaps you should try it and see if you like it better.

Perhaps one reason not to switch is if in the future you use a PC or get an Android/Windows Mobile Phone...

But, perhaps you are not configuring ToodleDo enough, I find ToodleDo to be the most customizable todo list manager I've used, and I've used a lot.

What "View" do you spend most of your time on? I spend it on the "Search View" with customized searches and tabs for everything.

I don't use the "Status" or the "Context" functions on ToodleDo, but rely more on the *Star, Priority (each level has a different meaning), and Due-Dates.

Proximo's GTD setup, maybe a little too complex.

Everyone's different, the key to GTD is creating a customizable system that's exactly suits you and your liking.


This message was edited Jan 12, 2010.
Joshua

Posted: Jan 12, 2010
Score: 0



@Quang: One of Toodledo's strengths is that it is cross-platform. I am a Apple fanboy however, and *hope* to never look back from my current Mac/iPhone setup. However, if people are cross-platform I agree Toodledo is the best tool.

I used various search views as well. Stars are key to making items appear to me, but I also use Start/Due days to hide/display tasks. Priorities are out of hand for me, they seem only help me order my tasks, but not really help me with what is actionable. I really do want better Project management however - in a way I want to "eliminate" single-action tasks as much as possible.

As you note, you need a system you can trust and suits you. I thing Toodledo flexibility is great in many ways, but it also seem to have me tinkering and attempting to make it work too much. Thanks for your comments.
Linden

Posted: Jan 12, 2010
Score: 0



@Joshua

I've never used the other programs, so I can't give any input on using one tool over another. If you're feeling frustrated, it can't hurt to check out what the others have to offere, though.

However, I noted your comment about having no "Next Action" view. Have you thought about using the Status field, and marking the next action for each project there?

That would let you look at the "View by: Status" and click "Next Action" to see only the next actions you've identified. It also has the benefit of saving your preferred sort order, so you wouldn't need to redo it every time like the custom search.

Just an idea -- it may or may not work for you, but could be worth trying.

Cheers!
Joshua

Posted: Jan 12, 2010
Score: 0



@Liden That is not a bad idea, and I may consider it. The only issue I see there is I will have to manually note the next action on each project in the Status field during my daily/weekly reviews. The apps I'm considering, I think, both auto populate the next action lists with the sequentially next task item in your Project(s) once you complete the previous one.

I think what I am realizing is it is coming down to my weakness in Toodledo regarding Projects. The issue noted above and the fact I can't add tasks (with fields more than the Task name) directly to Projects (as subtasks)/am forced to drag them to a Project (for subtasks). I know it seems small, but it it starting to become big as I am "going numb" to the system because of such an issue and it is limiting my efficient use of the GTD system. Maybe I am just lazy!

Thanks for everyone's comments though. I am thinking I may try some modifications to Toodledo while also testing Things and/or OmniFocus (via trials) before making a final decision. More feedback also welcome.
Proximo

Posted: Jan 13, 2010
Score: 0



Joshua,

You are not alone in your dilemma. The advantages of Toodledo is the on-line (Cloud) model. The only downside to Omnifocus or Things for me is that they both require a desktop app in combo with an iPhone if you have one.

I need something in the Cloud because it's the most flexible system.

I have no experience with either Omnifocus or Things but from what I understand, Things is designed for GTD specifically as is Omnifocus. They both approach it in different ways with Things being the simpler setup.

I prefer simpler myself, but I can only go by the images I have seen and remarks from others that have used the other systems.

There is speculation that Things will be going on-line (Cloud) in the future. Not confirmed but a rumor if you will.

I continue to use Toodledo because it does work but I have a love hate relationship with it. I don't ever expect Toodledo to be the best GTD system because it's simply not designed for GTD and it has an open model. This makes it powerful but also not practical for tight GTD usage.

I agree with Quang 100%. At the end of the day you need to use what works for you. This is why so many people using Toodledo have different methods to their system.

What I think you and I are looking for is a simple and true GTD system and Toodledo will never be that.

I always keep my eyes open and test out other systems in hopes of finding true GTD Nirvana. (Wink, wink)

But as it stands right now, Toodledo is still my system of choice. I have created a Frankenstein that at least works for me but I feel it's out to kill me at times. Until a better option is available to me, I will continue to try and tame the beast.

I don't have a Mac, so Things and OmniFocus are not choices I can make. I would imagine that the lack of an on-line model for both of these, I would probably not use them anyway.

Again, you must use what works for you.

Let us know how things go.
Claudio

Posted: Jan 13, 2010
Score: 0



Posted by Proximo:
I always keep my eyes open and test out other systems in hopes of finding true GTD Nirvana. (Wink, wink)
Along with the iPhone app. Nudge, nudge ... ;)
Linden

Posted: Jan 13, 2010
Score: 0



@Joshua: I'm glad to have provided food for thought. Your point about resistance to the extra steps is very reasonable.

David Allen points out many times in the book that your system doesn't need to have a particular form -- but you have to enjoy it. If you're resisting the system, you'll avoid it and be left unable to trust it.

That's happening to me a lot with my e-mail and physical objects. General tasks are easy for me, because I love playing with Toodledo, even if it isn't perfect. (Like David's many references to playing with his PalmPDA.) But my e-mail box is like a dark den that I avoid. :)

I know Toodledo has stuff like auto-sequencing on its todo list to implement someday, but their feature wishlist is really long. If you can find your perfect (or near-perfect) solution sooner, more power to you!
Proximo

Posted: Jan 15, 2010
Score: 0



Posted by Linden:
@Joshua: I'm glad to have provided food for thought. Your point about resistance to the extra steps is very reasonable.

David Allen points out many times in the book that your system doesn't need to have a particular form -- but you have to enjoy it. If you're resisting the system, you'll avoid it and be left unable to trust it.

That's happening to me a lot with my e-mail and physical objects. General tasks are easy for me, because I love playing with Toodledo, even if it isn't perfect. (Like David's many references to playing with his PalmPDA.) But my e-mail box is like a dark den that I avoid. :)

I know Toodledo has stuff like auto-sequencing on its todo list to implement someday, but their feature wishlist is really long. If you can find your perfect (or near-perfect) solution sooner, more power to you!


Linden is on the money here.
tarnf

Posted: Feb 09, 2010
Score: 0



A couple corrections and comments from a user of both OmniFocus and Toodledo Pro.

You can run OmniFocus just on the iPhone, with syncing to any WebDav service, such as MobileMe, to have cloud backups. That has been my solution for a while. Having a PC/Mac version running and/or web access to it would make editing easier of course.

OmniFocus can create tasks with contexts that are not in projects. This will make the task leave the Inbox and show up only in the list for that Context. On the Mac that is supposed to be editable -- you can say you want it to still show up in the Inbox if it has a context but no project.

Sync for OmniFocus from the iPhone to MobileMe used to suck. However, it is now quite decent (for me). This is due to (1) resetting a sync to a deleted calendar and (2) their updates which focused on sync speed.

I should say that I really want to like and use Toodledo. I'm in a mixed PC, Mac, and iPhone world and the web access for Toodledo is great. But I just don't know if I can live without sequential projects, where Next Action gets automatically percolated down. I have sequenced projects with 20-30 steps that get regularly tweaked. Neither having all those subtasks show up at once, nor having to manually set the Next Action for every one, nor having to do one of the hacks to sort them out is really viable for me.

Right now, Toodledo just falls down for sequential projects. For almost everything else it is either very good, or good enough. Sure it has some warts (like no Inbox built in, Hotlist not configurable by Status, etc.), but in general it is very usable. I'm just sort of holding on (for not too much longer) hoping that Toodledo will get sequential subtasks right -- which means they need to rethink their parent tasks. Parent tasks are not regular tasks, they are Projects, and need a different set of attributes to make this all work.

Anyway, soapbox off, hope the comments are helpful.

Ciao.
Proximo

Posted: Feb 15, 2010
Score: 0



@tarnf

Well said and I agree about the Projects in Toodledo. I am still holding on..... :-)
tony.grout

Posted: Mar 02, 2010
Score: 0



@tarnf

With you too on the need for a separate Projects type.
c.e.perry

Posted: Mar 03, 2010
Score: 0



Posted by tarnf:
...Toodledo is great. But I just don't know if I can live without sequential projects, where Next Action gets automatically percolated down.


You may want to look at Action Lists which is an iPhone GTD app that syncs with Toodledo. Action Lists now supports sequential projects (although it calls the feature "task queuing"). That might help the problem on the iPhone side, although it wouldn't address the problem when tasks are completed via the web interface. More info at: http://software.dazeend.org/action_lists

(Full disclosure: I am the author of Action lists.)


This message was edited Mar 03, 2010.
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