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Vitalist, possibly THE best GTD app out there

Like most people, as soon as I finished reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I set out on a quest to find the perfect GTD app. And, like a lot of people, I spent countless hours trying to tweak my GTD system into perfection.

I have tried multiple systems including GTD Gmail, and even Neptune, which was particularly disappointing. In the end I settled with my own custom system of using a combination of desktop sticky notes with Voo2do and MyTicklerFile. This has come in handy, mainly because I could jot down thoughts into my “inbox” on my desktop, even when not connected to the internet. I have used this system until very recently.

Then the other day I read this post from GTD Wannabe about a new web-based GTD app called Vitalist.

Vitalist is heavily based on GTD principles, which makes it very easy to navigate. It includes all the features of a good GTD app such as waiting for, a tickler file, and reference. I know this sounds basic, but I have noticed that many GTD apps lack a complete GTD system. On top of these basic features, Vitalist offers filtering options, and reminders via email, RSS, or text message. The interface is very similar to that of Gmail, but with more color. As a whole, Vitalist is extremely easy to understand and use.

On of the problems I have had with Vitalist is that the someday list is merged with your tickler file. Personally, I usually have quite a bit of items lined up in my “someday” list. In Vitalist, whenever I want to access my ticklers, I need to scroll below my huge someday list. It would be helpful to have this on a second list.

Another feature that would have been nice is a time estimate field while creating a new task. Vitalist offers a “Next Action” filter, but it’s kind of useless as it simply chooses an action at random from each context and hides the rest. One of the principles of GTD is that you choosing your next action by


Context > Time required > Energy required > Priority

Context is fairly obvious, and does not need a filter. Energy required cannot be effectively measured, and even priority is a pain to record. However, I would really like a feature that allowed me to filter my actions by how much time I have (eg. >5m, >10m, <20m, <30m, <60m <2h)

A more minor problem that I have had with it is the mobile capabilities. A GTD system should offer its users the ability to add items to their inbox, or check current items with ease, from wherever they are. The main problem with web based application such as Vitalist, is that you can’t very well access your data on the go. The problem with mobile browsing, is that for people with regular cell phones, mobile browsing is both expensive, and inconvenient. The time required to navigate and waiting for pages to load simply isn’t effective. How cool would it be if Vitalist offered users the ability to add items to their inbox via SMS, or even using voice to text translation through a service like Jott. Personally, I’d rather use my extra monthly minutes, or a 10 cent txt than waste time mobile browsing.

Really though, I think that Vitalist is the best GTD web app out there. Sure it would nice to have all these extra features that I could dream about, but no app is perfect. That said… Vitalist comes pretty darn close!

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