Thursday, June 25, 2009

A new project: A GTD Web Application

I've written before about GTD (Getting Things Done), a methodology for time management and personal organisation from David Allen. I am still in love in the concept but lately I have been frustrated by the lack of great tools for GTD that are simple and frictionless.

So I am going to create one.

I am not working in a vaccum. A similiarly purposed GTD specialist web application is There is a lot to admire about Nozbe, including its maturity, polish, device support and copious help about the GTD methodology. In terms of quality I would say it competes in the same in the same field as the 37 Signals applications (Backpack, Basecamp, etc). The remarkable thing is that it looks like the work (and personal achievement) of one man - Michael Sliwinski.

There are other GTD tools around. In particular, I really worked well with Thinking Rock GTD from Thinking Rock, but since this is a desktop tool I found it hard to create a mobile resource that followed me (and could help me) at home, at the shops or otherwise away from my work desktop PC.

Other task list (or Todo list) applications from around the web claim to be 'GTD friendly' (some are: Toodledo, Remember the Milk and Hiveminder) but it is very hard to create a web application which is primarily about task lists into a GTD tool, since GTD is process that extends outside a list of things to do. When I have tried to use them, GTD went out the window, and I only had a task list.

(Getting Things Done is a process. It is methodology that collects thoughts and processes them into next actions, someday and reference items. It a trusted system that you can dependably find your next action from with minimal thought overhead. This is something that understands, but Toodledo misses).

For even more GTD applications and tools have a look on this comparison list.

I am creating another online GTD tool in this space for three reasons.

Firstly, to help myself. I enjoy GTD and I think I am more effcient when I use it effectively. None of the existing tools is what I believe I need to use GTD most effectively, so I will build a tool that I can use myself, for my own benefit.

Secondly, others may like my approach too. If so, I would like to help them out at the same time.

Thirdly, GTD as a formalised time management methodology captures a thought process and set of thought infrastructure and for that reason I think it is a very interesting starting point for Helium 3's new vision of bringing thought and awareness to the web. This is only a small step towards that vision (which I need to write more about) but I think the grandness of the vision requires small, practical steps. And this is one.

When I investigated creating my own GTD web application I was dissappointed about the extent and quality of other GTD tools available on the internet. in particular is a strong competitor. But I have since realised that the other tools are actually excellent signposts guiding me toward my ideal web application. I do not want people to use my GTD web application because it is the only one available, but because it does best job for those people. No one tool is perfect and in adding to the GTD ecosystem I hope to both bring my own ideas and understand what else works and does not work.

Whats next?

I want to bring my audience along for the ride, so in the coming weeks you will hear more from me as I develop and evolve my thinking about my next GTD web application. I want to be very open about the process and the end result. If you have any comments please go ahead. I am looking for ideas, feedback, community and constructive criticism. So please, join the conversation about creating a better GTD tool if you want to.


  1. Ben,

    Please keep me posted on your progress. I have an entire GTD Web Application written down with one down side. I am not a Programmer but just a GTD Practitioner for many years.

  2. Hi Proximo, you can keep up with My Web Brain, here on this blog. Or even better, try the application out at and suggest improvements at the My Web Brain Google group at . Thanks for your interest!