GTD apps are all the rage with smartphone and tablet owners everywhere; but do you really need to spend money on a bit of software laden with bells and whistles that you’ll never use? When tools like Omnifocus cost upwards of £20, isn’t there a better (and cheaper) way to get things done?
In the mid-noughties, the “One Big Text File” meme whipped round the world’s tech-savvy GTD geeks. The premise was rather than bow to the conventions of someone else’s productivity app, you could manage your entire life inside one .txt file, formatted according to your own rules. Unsurprisingly, the idea took off.
Pioneered by Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani, the concept of getting things done with one of the oldest digital document formats became hugely popular. For me, it makes total sense.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m easily distracted. My ADHD mindset means I’m always chasing “the next big thing”; in productivity apps, as much as in new music.
Since I first made the leap to iPhone four years ago, I must’ve spent hundreds of pounds on apps for getting things done. From Toodledo to Evernote, Wunderlist to Clear, I’ve downloaded them all; hacking the settings on each to try and get the perfect workflow. I’ve even tried doing it with GMail (it didn’t last long).
Within a couple of months I’m usually bored. Sick of being tied to the rules of someone else’s program, I’m soon on the lookout for something else that more closely fits my vision of David Allen’s concept.
What sets GTD apart from other productivity methods, though, is its simplicity. And what simpler way to manage it than an old-fashioned text file? They’ve existed since the dawn of the computer age and don’t look like going anywhere any time soon.
When Simplenote has long since bitten the dust and your Office 2007 documents are un-openable museum pieces, text will still be doing the business for geeks and hackers everywhere.
So, a couple of months ago I decided to ditch my technological crutches, delete all the productivity apps from my phone and do everything in a file called gtd.txt. I’ll be the first to admit it was a challenge, but now I’ve got my system ironed out I’ve become more productive than ever.
Rather than wasting time tagging, starring and colour-coding my todos in a fancy application, I’m spending more actually doing them; which is the whole point, surely?
Check out these articles on how to organise your life inside one big text file:
How do you use technology to get things done? Could you make the leap to text?