A couple weeks ago IQTell, a company whose GTD app I have been using for several years , announced a shut down at the end of this month. It was a popular but far from mainstream app for applying David Allen's Getting Things Done ® methodology to your everyday life. I've been practicing the basics of GTD for many years, and being an online guy want to use the best app for practicing GTD. In a nutshell, GTD's premise works as shown in the following outline:
Enter item into INBOX via:
Drag drop from any source
Process each item into:
Someday/Maybe lists and folders
Reference in digital folders
What is the next action?:
< 2 minutes:
Just do it
If multi-step what is the desired outcome?
Add to projects:
[back to] What is next action?
Review for actions
[back to] What is next action?
In communication system and track it on:
Waiting for lists and folders
To calendar for me to do at specific date and/or time
For me to do as soon as can into action reminder lists or folders
That's the just of it, the main premise being that emptying your head of all the things you "collect" over the day (calls, notes, drive-by's, meetings, etc.) gives your brain more processing room to be creative and fulfill the most prescient tasks of the day. You create a collection of lists or projects and review them daily and weekly to see what you need to address.
One of the ultimate goals of GTD is "inbox zero" where at the end of the day you have nothing in your virtual or physical inbox. You email should be empty, and your inbox bin on your desk should be empty. You do this by doing the steps outlined above to EVERY item that you deal with or "collect" every day.
So with IQTell's passing, many of the active customers are scrambling to find it's replacement, and it is impossible to do right now for one reason: email. IQTell let you process all your email inboxes in one place (I have about 10 because of work and home). You could set up any number of Inboxes inside what it dubbed the EZInbox. This was the main reason most of us loved IQTell - a lot of what we "collect" comes in the form of email that can be "processed" as outlined above. For example, you could just drag and drop an appointment email right onto the calendar to set it up, set up an action in one step, or drop something you want to store as reference directly into Evernote. It was quick, and I found I never had anything left in my inbox at day's end.
Many of us joined a Slack Channel just to help each other test and trial the various task and project management solutions that are available. So far not ONE of the solutions provides a way to directly access email (except one that is limited to Gmail, which is too limiting and forces you to forward all email to one inbox). It is ultimately an exercise in frustration, because each solution is missing some piece of the GTD process that we need.
This is a plea to GTD app developers out there - the starting point of GTD is COLLECTION and we can't collect what we can't see. And like any good process app, we want one place to view our collections, and not have to make due by forwarding emails into the app. We get a lions share of collection from emails and online services, so we need to see it all in one place. If IQTell did it, we know it can be done. At risk of turning this into a rant, I feel like not one task management or project management company has bothered to actually research what their customers need to do to properly apply GTD. Sometimes they are too rigid but cover the GTD mantra perfectly (FacileThings - I need to see a month calendar), and many times they are too team oriented and think we collaborate on every aspect of our goals in life. They either do too little, too much, or miss the mark completely.
And so after all this it provides me with a great opportunity to create a new app, which I'll write about as I design it. Since I am the practitioner/user and creator/designer, I have a unique opportunity to know exactly what we need to "do GTD" online. However I always have to harken back to David Allen's philosophy and recognize that it doesn't have to be digital at all - one notebook and a calendar can pretty much get things done. Stay tuned...