The best GTD app is your .txt, period
I actually wanted to write this post long time ago—since I started using the .txt as a to-do & GTD application and that’s about a 6 good months ago. If you know me though, you know that I’m a “professional procrastinator” so you shouldn’t be like “WTF?! 6 months ago? That even was 2010 dude!” But let’s stick to the point, shouldn’t we?
You’ve tried Things; you’ve tried Remember the Milk; you’ve tried Omnifocus; you’ve tried your Moleskine with plain pen and paper. You’ve tried a dozen other apps, especially iOS ones on GTD. I’ve tried them too. But my opinion is they are all shit. Except maybe the Moleskine part because my Moleskine is the notebook I like the most. Or at least to say it better, they didn’t work out for me.
All of these apps seem so different, yet they share some core things (of failure):
- complicated UIs (yet, they’re advertised as the most easy-to-learn UIs)
- too much clutter when adding an event, note, to-do
- too much hassle to add one (lot’s of clicks, plus the previous point)
- can’t sync correctly (only OTA between the same app at best)
- proprietary support of devices & connectivity
What you need from a to-do / GTD app?
- add things on the fly
- sync between the whole universe
- overall KISS-ness
After long philosophical thoughts I figured out that the only solution that satisfies these three core needs is an app that every computer whether it’s Mac, Linux or Windows (meh) has. *Drumroll* yeah, it’s the plain —fucking— .txt editor. (I know, goose bumps all over your body now, lol).
In a so “meta” world we live in i.e. you can sync content simultaneously in between all your machines, plain ol’ .txt is not enough. But hold on! There’s an app for that. (I’m so meta using these cliches.) I can describe this, my current to-do / GTD setup, and recommend it to people as “.txt on steroids”.
The app that transforms .txt into “.txt 2.0” is called PlainText. And it’s free—fuck yeah. However it’s not only the app that makes it awesome, it’s the whole setup.
If you don’t already use DropBox (seriously, WTF if you don’t), start by clicking here. Download and install the client.
Download PlainText from your local AppStore on your iOS device. Link PlainText with your DropBox account, create a folder “PlainText” in your DropBox folder and delete the 2 default files of PlainText if you want (all these from within the PlainText app).
Create a new file with PlainText and name it “todo”—the .txt will be appended automatically. Go to your computer and see that the todo.txt appears instantly in your /Dropbox/PlainText folder.
Mac tip: pin the todo.txt file on your dock like this (you can do that with a kind of “hack” in Windows 7 too, I think).
Now, every time you type and click save (from your computer) or stop typing (it autosaves) from PlainText the todo.txt is automatically synced via DropBox. DropBox even holds file revisions and backups automatically for you through its system, in case you do BS sometime.
If-you-don’t-have-an-iOS-device tip: you can sync the todo.txt between your computers by simply installing DropBox to your other machines. By itself, DropBox will download all of your files in the /DropBox folder to every new computer. Don’t forget to pin the file!
I don’t know if you’re excited with this, but I am. This setup worked perfectly for me since —not even day one— but second one. It’s like magic, it’s like what you ever wanted. If you give it a try you’ll remember me for the rest of your life. Word.