Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp

I still remember the GTD craze a few years back. David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” became the “bible” for too-many-things-to-do-too-little-time-to-do-it types of people who seemed to dominate the working landscape at the time. (I almost thought that there was even a cult worshipping GTD).

“Our brain is designed for short-term problem solving.” That’s what my GTD-obsessed friend always says, “To get things done, free your head from clutter and put it into a “reliable” system to be processed.”

Many GTD-ish applications – both in the Windows and Mac world – popped up here and there claiming to be the ultimate life management software. Some managed to stand out among the noise, but most are disappearing quietly and have never been heard from again.

The Basic Requirements

The reason why most applications failed can be explained using only one word : useless. They are either too simple that it seemed ridiculous to use it instead of a simple text editor (or maybe a piece of scrap paper), or too complicated that the learning process scared most users and forced them back into using a simple text editor.

So in order not to be ineffective, there are requirements for these apps to fulfill:

  • Simple enough to be understood and used in one go.
  • Advanced enough to provide convenience for the users.
  • Could be accessed quickly.
  • Could accept instant input anytime and anywhere.

The closest thing to GTD perfection – in my humble opinion – is Things. But since the app went out of beta (and turned into paidware), I started to look for an alternative. Tried iGTD for a while but it’s too complicated for a simple guy like me.


I just need something that a little bit better than pen and paper.

How To Get Rid Of The Anxiety

Meet Anxiety – a lightweight to-do management for Mac. It’s not perfect, but I’ll survive.

The feature I like most about Anxiety is the ability to synchronize with iCal and Mail. And since iCal can be synchronized with my mobile phone using iSync, I can easily open and add tasks on the go.

The first thing is to adjust the preferences. Open it by going to Anxiety → Preferences menu (or Command+Comma).

There are several adjustments that can be made via the “General” preferences,

and “Appearance” preferences.

Then I think about several “conditions” – to be translated into calendars on iCal – to classify my tasks into manageable chunks. For example, the task of “Research for Anxiety” could only be done with an internet connection, so I will put this task under “Internet” as the condition.

Now I’m ready to empty my brain. Anytime I remember any tasks to be done, I will just focus on Anxiety, hit “Return”, and:

  • Type away at the task
  • Choose one of the iCal calendar in the “Add to” options.

  • If there’s no calendar that fits the condition of the task, just add a new iCal calendar by clicking the small dark icon next to “Add to”. My friend advised me to add “@” sign in front of the customized calendar. Something like “@internet”.

Whenever I finish a task, I will then put a check in the box and the task will go away. Yay!

Despite a few drawbacks, like the inability to show the due date or the absence of system-wide shortcut keys, I found Anxiety to be very useful to me.

What about you?  What is your favorite GTD application?  Please share using the comments below!

  1. Alex
    August 25, 2009 at 7:38 am

    "My friend advised me to add “@” sign in front of the customized calendar. Something like “@internet”."

    Questions: Why? What's the benefit or purpose in doing this?

    • penutur
      August 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      My understanding of @ is that it provide context to the task. So @internet means that the tasks are internet related, while @home is everything that could be done at home, and so on. This one is a GTD thingy. You can find lots of literature on the net about GTD.

      • Alex
        August 25, 2009 at 7:37 pm

        Funny, I would've thought that just by putting a task under "internet" would suffice without the need for the @ (just seems redundant).

        • Jeffry Thurana
          September 5, 2009 at 4:05 am

          The @ is indeed redundant if the task is only fit into one context. But if there are several contexts applied to a task, then the @ will make perfect sense.

          For example: "Tell X about the latest revision on Project Y" is an office task related to Project Y which should be done via phone. So there are several @s here: @office @phone @Project Y.

          So, if you are doing all the tasks that should be done by phone, or at the office, or related to project Y; you'll find this task.

  2. BigTex
    August 15, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    True, it's hard to beat "free," but when it comes to my tasks and notes, Things is hard to top. There's both an application for the Mac and the iPhone with a simple way to sync data between the two devices. Not only can I free my brain from having to remember to bring home an extra jug of milk, I also can make notes worth keeping over the longer term. When I need to access a note on my laptop, Things is available from my Dock. When I'm away from the computer and have my iPhone in hand, I have access to all the Things information on my computer.

  3. Ken
    April 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I've just bought an iMac, but use a PC at work. I needed something that I could access via the web from any place. So I'm using Toodledo ( It is very smart in ranking priorities based on importance and date. I'm using the free trial, but will purchase it ($15/year) because it is a reasonable cost.

  4. DIYguy3
    April 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I find that since most of my tasks are computer related, Gmail's Task add-on is sufficient. Then again, I don't have a cool Iphone... yet.

  5. Alex
    April 2, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Thannks for the info! ))))

  6. Michael
    April 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I use remember the milk, and my fridge is always stocked

  7. jvdgoot
    April 2, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Nothing will ever beat OmniFocus for me. For two major reasons:

    1 - Flexibility. It has a relatively steep learning curve, but you the semi-openness of the application allows me to use it the way I want to use. With apps like Things I feel like I'm being forced to do things the way the developer wants me to do them.

    2 - Capture anywhere. It runs on my iPhone and have that with me wherever I go. It actually impresses people that I remember things they've asked me to do only once. Little do they know I immediately added it to OmniFocus.

  8. Arvin
    April 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I've since decided to stick with the Sticky Note iGoogle app, since I keep firefox handy at all times anyway, and it's accessible wherever I have internet access. It's just a notekeeper, and i can make it as simple or complicated as I want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *