New desktop applications for Getting Things Done

I’ve written before about the popular productivity concept, Getting Things Done (GTD). I’ve come across a few new tools that attempt to make GTD a bit easier. While productivity tools integrate with all types of web and desktop applications, I decided to take a look at a few new desktop applications dedicated specifically to the GTD methodology – Ghost Action and Actiontastic.

Both applications attempt to solve the same goal of using the GTD approach to enhance productivity. Each are exclusively for the Mac and sport very similar features and user interfaces. For Ghost Action, the three main components are projects, actions, and contexts (how you do your work, i.e. @computer or @errands). Actiontastic tweaks this slightly by removing the listing of all available actions and replaces it with the inbox. This is a bit more GTD, but Ghost Action provides similar functionality if you create an inbox project. If you’re not familar with GTD concepts, the last few sentences probably don’t make much sense, so on to other features. Both applications sync with iCal which provides a lot of flexibility especially if you then sync your iCal to a mobile device. Actiontastic’s main difference lies in the enhanced visual details provided for each action. For example, the user has the choice between viewing all, todo, or done actions.


Overall I prefer the simpler workflow in Ghost Action, but I’m interested in the complementary web application being developed by Actiontastic called Actionatr. Full integration with a matching web application would be a significant differentiator between these two competing apps.

Midnight Inbox is another GTD application in this category, but it felt less of a simple GTD application and a much more creative implementation which is why I left it off of this comparison. Everyone who uses GTD, develops their own personal workflow so this one may work for you. I’ll need some more time experimenting with Midnight Inbox before I can give it a full review. One interesting side note – when I downloaded the trial for Midnight Inbox, it was being pulled from Amazon’s S3 web service. Nice bandwidth management!

If you’re already using OmniOutliner, you should check out Ryan Carson‘s excellent tutorial on how he integrated the software with GTD into his daily workflow. TUAW also has a sneak preview of OmniFocus, the new GTD application from OmniGroup.

I was never able to find a good stand-alone GTD application for Windows. Does anyone have suggestions? Is there something I missed?

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Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

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