The best GTD apps for 2015

So I’ll write this one in English for two reasons: First, I know for a fact many people look for good GTD apps – not just Spaniards. And second, I benefited myself from the generosity of other bloggers reviews of GTD apps – mostly in English, even if not all authors were from an English-speaking background. So if they made the effort to share their findings in English to reach the widest possible audience, I’ll do the same.

First things first. I had been a user of Nirvanahq in the past. I was pretty happy in their free beta, but opted out after paying the first year. The fact is, I felt I was left with not enough time to react between the warning (pay or lose your projects) and the deadline. I was getting married shortly after so maybe I was on a worse schedule than usual and I’m being unfair, but this is just how I felt and why I almost stopped using Nirvana, which is otherwise awesome and has been getting better. For a time I used Evernote with extensive tagging, even digging into The Secret Weapon approach. But Evernote does not allow for the simple joy of just crossing out completed tasks. And tagging for GTD becomes just too much pain (for every note you need context, time, energy and project, at the very least). Evernote is great but not a GTD app, lets face it.

Other good contenders tested in the past included (but wasn’t reliable enough as far as syncing goes, specially for data entered while offline), Remember The Milk (a fine product, just not my preferred look&feel and UX).

So I decided to scan the market again and test something new, even if it was a paid option. My requirements for a GTD system may not be the same as yours, so for me priorities included:

  • Good UX and performance (easy to use, fast response). My goal is not to learn how to use a new toy, but to have actual job done, quickly. Performance speed is measured with my usual devices, of course. I don’t care if it’s very fast on someone else’s laptop…
  • Beautiful design. I’m going to live in this damn app all day. Don’t make it depressing to look at.
  • Cross-platform. Sorry for Things and other platform-specific solutions. I can work from a Windows laptop (most of the times) but I also own a MacBook Pro. I have a personal iPhone as well as an Android phone for work. And there is an Android tablet too at home. I’m cross-platform and I’m not going to buy any solution that ties me only to one device or operating system.
  • I need as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. I suffer from repetitive stress injury in both wrists and love to save keystrokes when possible.
  • Some help with reporting is greatly appreciated. I need to report on my weekly or monthly work so I was used to use Nirvana logbook to remind me of tasks completed on a particular date. Authomated reporting would be even better.
  • As a user that would migrate from another system, batch import or at least adding tasks by e-mail is a plus. Being able to export easily (not feeling ‘trapped’) is important, too.
  • Call me silly, but I want to re-organize my tasks to have them sorted out by priority for any project. Nirvana lets me just drag and drop. Make it that easy, please.
  • Of course, if I’m looking for a GTD ‘trusted system’, it has to be… well, trustworthy. That means reliable, with a good backup policy, and able to work offline when needed.

With this in mind, I read (a lot) and tested myself some of the best apps found through some research and also the most-recommended in post like The Best GTD Apps and others.This are my results:

Tested And Rejected (Honorable Mention For The First Two)

Workflowy – Not that bad. Allows for heavy keyboard use, and it’s a very flexible tool. But not really GTD-oriented. I mean, no report or date-based logbook of completed items, lots of tagging required to include contexts, energy, etc., which is some of the cons of Evernote anyway.

Organize Pro (from 50$ license – Web version not-so-fast and lacks a few features such as tagging and filter by tag (energy, time required to complete the taxt, drag-and-drop tasks to reorder). iPhone app pretty good and good-looking, a serious contender. Tested downloadable version (trial): not so fast.

Omnifocus – Not being cross-platform is a deal-breaker for me. I can’t solely rely on my iPhone and have no desktop version of my system during office hours.

Producteev – Not recommended after its redesign. It would be free for the features I would use and interface is not that bad but contexts, etc., are added as tags. No task drag-and-drop to organize priorities. Good reporting due to activiy log. Can be used as a collaboration tool. Exports CSV.

2doapp – Windows browser only through Toodledo, not-so-good interface

iQTell –  A promising product, integration with Evernote and email, too expensive for me.

Conqu – Not bad, but I wasn’t impressed by interface.

Droptask – Good but too visual, slow response. Also no keyboard shortcuts.

Eisenhower – Too simple, not flexible enough, not really GTD-oriented.

SmartTM – Web on beta version, logging in wasn’t simple so… nope.

ZenDone – Interface wasn’t good enough for my taste.

GQueues – Not a bad pricing but too linked to Google, Gmail-like interface, file uploading through Drive…

Smartytask – Too expensive for my personal use. (99$ per year).

Top Of The Crop

GTD con letras de madera de juguete.
GTD with wooden letters.

I ended up with a shortlist of three good alternatives to practice GTD: Facile Things, Todoist, and again good old Nirvanahq. So I had to look for a tie-break by closely comparing key features.

Let’s first take a closer look to all three.

Facile Things, at about 64€ per year, is a bit pricy for my taste but still between sight of what could be reasonable if it’s the right tool to keep my life under control. While a little slow to respond to inputs (specially on a mobile device), it’s absolutely GTD-oriented, in fact it covers all possible aspects of the method. Its Done list can act as a solid start for any reporting or self-control.

Todoist proved to have the wider use of keyboard shortcuts. I couldn’t test iOS app but its webapp was not bad, just not ultra-fast. A good daily summary by e-mail and a small price (23€/year) are also good points.

I ended up re-testing Nirvanahq. Like I said, its logbook (that shows the date when something was completed) is helpful for reporting. It’s also one of the cheapest paid solutions that I found at 39$ per year (32€ aprox.). You can easily export data if you switch providers.

Any of these three deserve an extended testing if you are serious about GTD. If you care at all, I’ll soon tell you how and why I chose one of them.

The best GTD apps for 2015

11 thoughts on “The best GTD apps for 2015

  1. Tomer says:

    Good post! Very similar to my thoughts about most of those apps.
    Too bad FacileThings didn’t put out a new app update in 2 years (and of course NirvanaHQ without a native mobile app with offline use, though years of promises).
    I’m using as a very GTD oriented platform. Apps are slick and fast, so that’s a HUGE plus for me, but it still lacking in some things.


    1. Alain Ochoa says:

      Hi, thank you for commenting. I never found a truly great solution for offline use but Nirvana syncs pretty well. I loved while using it, lack of consistency in syncing was a deal-breaker at the time but a couple of years have passed, it may be more reliable now. I will give it another try.


  2. John K says:

    Is Nirvana still being supported and developed. It appears much of their knowledgebase, user guides and discussions are quite dated.


    1. Alain Ochoa says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. Nirvana is approaching one year since last release which is arguably odd, and lacks a few no-brainers like sub-projects. But it’s still a fully functional product that beautifully delivers on core features.


  3. Jacek says: has some serious flaws and misconceptions in the way it implements GTD. For example there’s no real tickler and because of that it’s becoming too much “calendar (date) driven”. There’s nothing like task state there, so you can’t actually store your project plans in the app (a lists of future tasks in a project). All tasks are NextActions and are present on the context list. No energy level field, and some more – but I use it and waiting for the better one. What do you think about Nozbe?


    1. Alain Ochoa says:

      Thank you for your comment Jacek. got better since I first tried it out. I think I tried Nozbe and it didn’t make the cut but actually lost my notes on it… So I’m going to give it a try again a write about it, thank your for the suggestion.


      1. Alain Ochoa says:

        Edit: Nozbe seems to be pretty good, great integrations. But seems to be lacking an automatic ‘Next’ view. I just want to see, uncluttered, what can I do now, not the 100+ tasks that are waiting their turn…


  4. Brian says:

    IQTell has a free version with all the features except being able to read my email directly. But you can email tasks to your inbox. I use IFTTT to move specific emails, keeping gmail as my preferred email client.


  5. Tyrone says:

    If you live in a Mac world, Omni Focus is excellent for any practioner of GTD. However, it’s worth taking the time to learn it to use it effectively.

    Trello is also seriously good, simply because it offers a great deal of flexibility in how you manage yourself.


    1. Alain Ochoa says:

      Thank you for your comment Tyrone. I LOVE Trello for distributed teams, I don’t find it so useful as a personal GTD system (for my taste, of course).


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