I’ve been looking for a new GTD app since moving back onto a Windows laptop. Things, the brilliant GTD app I was using on my Macbook, fitted my mental model of what a GTD app should be. For a GTD app to really work, it has to fit perfectly with your working style: using it has to be second nature. Since moving back to Windows, I’ve been looking for a new GTD app.
ThinkingRock, the app I used to use on Windows, just doesn’t feel right, and Gmail Tasks, while a neat little to-do manager, isn’t fully-featured enough for GTD. So when Cioaca Virgil of Veetosoft emailed me to tell me about uTodo, a new GTD app, I thought I’d give it a try to see whether it might fit my needs. uTodo is a lightweight version of Veetosoft’s more feature-rich GTD app, uOrganized.
The first thing to notice about uTodo is that it’s a teeny 1.3 MB download. uTodo can easily fit on a USB stick, so even if you’re not taking your laptop with you you can still bring your GTD app. It’s also worth noting that uTodo is at version 0.9, so you probably shouldn’t consider it to be a finished product yet.
When you first install uTodo, it comes with a bunch of tasks and projects already set up, which is helpful to see how the app works. One of the projects is entitled “uTodo tips.” Each of the items in the list is a tip about using the app, with a note attached giving more detail. It’s a nice way to introduce users to the app.
uTodo also comes complete with a GTD template, on which you can base your own GTD setup.
Getting Things Done
I set uTodo up with a few projects and some actions. One of the first things that I noticed was that while uTodo is very keyboard-friendly, unfortunately it doesn’t have a global hotkey, like Things and ThinkingRock do. I like being able to add tasks to my task inbox whenever a thought strikes with one key press, without having to open up or switch to my GTD app and enter it. Having to switch apps does tend to break up your flow.
uTodo supports most of the functionality you would expect from a GTD app: you can group actions under projects (uTodo calls them “Lists”), set due dates, assign priorities, attach notes to tasks and tag actions at will. However, uTodo does not support hierarchy (task A must be completed before task B, etc), which, depending on how you like to work, might be a show-stopper. uOrganized, uTodo’s “bigger brother” does support hierarchy, so that might be a better option, if a lack of hierarchy is a problem for you.
To use uTodo for GTD, you collect new tasks in the app. Then, when you conduct your review, move them into the appropriate list (“Next action,” “Deferred,” “Delegated”) as required. To move tasks from list to list, it’s a case of simply dragging and dropping, but this is still more manual than the process with some other GTD apps, which can automatically determine next actions, etc.
uTodo does have some slightly quirky functionality. When dragging and dropping tasks, for example, you can’t drop them onto the title of a list in the main pane; you have to drop it into the list of tasks under the title. When adding a due date, you have to make sure a check box is checked before the due date. You’d probably learn to deal with these quirks pretty quickly, but they mean the app is not as immediately intuitive as I would like.
uTodo has some nice touches. You can assign new icons to the lists in the left-hand “Lists” pane to make each list readily identifiable. You can turn any task into a “sticky note” that you can leave on your desktop (perfect to leave a reminder for those really important tasks). It also auto-saves the database, so you don’t have to worry about saving the state of your GTD.
Overall, while uTodo is a neat little to-do manager, the lack of a global hotkey, no hierarchy, and some slightly unintuitive behavior are enough to stop me from using it day-to-day, and that’s what I really need from a GTD app. So I’m still looking for my perfect Windows GTD app, and I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly. However, it’s fast and lightweight, available with a 15-day free trial (a full license costs $19.95) and it’s a tiny download, so if you’re looking for a Windows GTD app, you might want to see if it fits your working style, especially if you’d prefer a simple to-do list manager that doesn’t try to do too much automatically.
What app do you use for GTD?