A little GTD in my Agenda

Before we developed Agenda, I used OmniFocus for everything — even things it wasn’t intended for. And I still use it, but my usage has dwindled to the point that I could easily replace it with Apple’s Reminders apps. It’s basically just a way to track a few tasks that become due repeatedly.

Since I started using Agenda full time, many of the tasks I used to undertake with OmniFocus have been moved across. Note taking, project planning, and research are all now in my Agenda app.

I got into OmniFocus originally when the Getting Things Done (GTD) hype was at its peak, and I have internalized many aspects of GTD.

The last few days I have been thinking about taking even more of the load off of OmniFocus, and I have added a special project to my General category. In the project, I have three notes: Daily Tasks, Inbox, and Soon. These are somewhat inspired by GTD, though not rigorously following the rules.

I intend to use Inbox to gather things to handle quickly, when I don’t have time to organize. I will move items in that note to other notes when I find a few minutes.

Daily Tasks is a little check list of stuff I have to do today; things to buy at the shop, a bill to pay, that sort of thing. Each day, I just delete the contents, and add the new tasks for the coming day.

Soon is stuff I should do at some point in the coming weeks, but which doesn’t have a high priority. I have it there just so that I see it each day and remind myself it still has to happen. It’s a bit like my procrastination list of tasks.

Just having notes like this wouldn’t be very useful unless they were very quick to find. To facilitate this, I have them all marked as “On the Agenda”. Now, when I go to my On the Agenda overview, I see these notes there every time, in addition to the specific projects I am working on that day. It’s a collated summary of what is important to me now. In the GTD terminology, On the Agenda is like a dynamically updating, continuous review. Every time I go there, I am reminded I still need to buy some milk.

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Drew -

I have a similar experience that I’m working through. I used a variety of task-managers: Omnifocus, Todoist, 2Do just to name a few. Our company now uses Asana on line for project task collaboration. That’s necessary because we farm out a lot of content development to contractors and it’s a very easy way for them to get online, get their tasks and due dates and it costs nothing.

This kind of discussion leads to a philosophical vision of what Agena is MADE for. There’s more discussion on adding more “To-do” or “Task” things to Agenda and that seems to go against the original vision of Agenda being a strategic project/research journal with strong supporting capabilities.

That being said, there is apparently a big group that WANTS Agenda to be all things, including a Task Manager. Notes as decribed in the schema of Agenda shouldn’t be tasks if your current vision is maintained. Agenda fits our bill because it does allow for project management support information OTHER than the mundane act of checking a to-do item.

I think a good analogy to this is when Evernote came out with “task lists” and through some kludgey manipulation of “tags” you were able to integrate those into some To-Do apps like Toodledo, Remember The Milk, and others. Again, to me, that was forcing a square peg in a round hole.

All productivity systems seem to have common components: Calendaring, Content Management, Task Management and Email. The most productive of us are all continuing to find solutions to meld those to work in the best and SIMPLE way possible. I personally believe that Agenda’s task-list capabilities are fine the way they are. If you need them in your personal task-manager, then put them there (Most of these have quick entry modes that automatically insert the contents of a clipboard. 2Do and Todoist both have that and I believe that Omnifocus did also.

Long story short, I don’t want Agenda to be my to-do list that I run to. If others want that and can incoporate that within the body of Agenda without disrupting the Agenda-Solution itself, that’s fine, but I sure don’t want Agenda to be JUST ANOTHER TASK MANAGER!

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Excellent point. It is a danger for an app to want to be all things to all people. You end up being nothing to anybody. (Is that a double negative? Ah, you know what I mean.)

Indeed the goal shouldn’t be just to be able to do everything a task manager can do. Agenda is not OmniFocus, and shouldn’t try to be. A better goal is probably to give enough power to integrate with other solutions, in the way you can couple notes to calendar events. Agenda isn’t a calendar app, but does work with them.

The point of this post was simply that there are a bunch of things I have used in the past (eg Inbox, Daily To Do) that Agenda can already handle quite well, just by assigning a note and prioritizing it (putting it in “On the Agenda”).

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Thinking of this, I use a variety of apps, lists, dropbox, documents, google drive and so forth. I have also used an online thing called minute that does some work as a minutes from meetings kind of work.

However, it would be great if you are able to filter out the things I say are “2do” so I can get an overview of all things outstanding in all my meeting notes.

Thats it, no clunky "2do app wannabe” I use omnifocus for my more detailed and personal planning. I have about 30 meetings a week, 200 phone calls and all my other notes. All I need is:

  1. Filter out 2do - so I can see them all
  2. iOS support - so I can have my shit everywhere.

=) <3

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Yep. We are working on iOS right now, and a ‘summarized’ view of search results (eg tasks or matching paragraphs) is a high priority too.

Thanks for the feedback!

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This sounds a very interesting discussion to me. In my understanding of the situation, GTD is a useful way to work that Omnifocus interprets quite well, but maybe Agenda can open new territories especially in term of creating a powerful tool on the side of developing articulated projects. As Drew says, Agenda isn’t a calendar app but working well with them, so maybe it could be good to develop more agenda in connection with an idea of timeline that maybe can be reinforced.
Surely a big step will be the IOS version of Agenda, allowing to work more easily on the move. And connecting it with Apple Notes maybe would be very useful, especially when you are on the move.

OmniFocus has been my go to app for years in no small part because it’s always with me and quick to update. I didn’t realize that Agenda has direct “Share” features with three main apps I use frequently (DevonThink, OmniFocus, and Spark) and I haven’t explored this yet. I don’t have adequate control of Agenda yet to manage it for GTD but as has been said that needs iOS to be fully implemented any way.

Thanks for the new App and this interactive community. Dale

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DT. - I use the same apps you do (Spark and Omnifocus) The handoff to them is rough from Agenda though.

In Omnifocus - if you share, choose Omnifocus and choose selected note, the whole note content is passed to OF as the title, which is really annoying as there’s no way to control that. I’ve tried that share with other Task managers and the result is different on each one. The interface to Spark, though,i is terrific! The note is copied to the body and a new email is brought up for addressing. Very efficient and works great.

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The handoff to them is rough from Agenda though.

See this topic:

Point taken, but disappointing. If you are Omnifocus and these other apps that have been around successfully for years, what’s their motivation to change the way THEIR things work for a new app like Agenda? Being in the software development management field for 30 years that’s not the way they think. If you are going to integrate to those solutions that complement Agenda’s functionality (as Drew has said many times) I’m confused as to how that happens without some collaborative effort. Perhaps this is just a long-term item that gets addressed at some later time.

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I use Spark too, because I think it is very efficient, anyway the note copied is not so good like Agenda can do with Airmail. https://agenda.community/t/linking-airmail-3-and-things-3/3550/13?u=maurizio.bortolotti

Agree it is not ideal, but the way the system works, all we can do is offer a variety of data formats to other apps. What they do with it is beyond our control. It may not even be clear what they should do with it. For example, if you send a PDF to OmniFocus, how should it present that?

You also have to remember that while we want our app to work well with other apps, and do our best to support it, many of these apps are direct or indirect competitors, so collaboration may not be on the cards.

Sure. Understand. I think of Airmail, for instance that went above and beyond to get good integration to industry leaders and those got built into their software. Postbox did something similar. Asana, a web-based collaboration tool, built tools so that their system, could sync with Omnifocus (they really didn’ t have to).

It may be possible to target particular apps down the track. It requires using their special features. For now we have built the standard macOS sharing into the app, and have to focus on iOS and other major features. I’m sure we’ll get to it sooner or later.

I’m sure you will, too. Your competitive space will demand it. Bear, Apple Notes, Dropbox Paper, Zoho, Quip and other are like this app. They’ve been around longer and offer certain features that are not in Agenda quite yet. As you get into the iOS world, you get into a VERY competitive world with apps like Notablity, Notes Plus, NoteBook and more. That space is even HARDER that the desktop. That’s where strategic integrations can be a big advantage in a user’s product differentiation.

Is it possible to do this though with an app that is “more simple” such as Apple’s Reminders?

After reviewing other similar programs, it doesn’t seem that Agenda is any better or any worse that other solutions in it’s integration to other things, so it’s a bit of a moot point.

Like others, though, I struggle to really get a solid feel for what the developers want Agenda to really be. Right now, it’s Apple notes, basically. It’s Bear. It’s a note taker, frankly, with a few neat things. I think that we all are pushing a lot of ideas what we WANT it to be….a to-do list, a report publisher, a project journal. Outside of the developers wanting to get the iOS offering to market, I haven’t really gotten a solid feel for what they REALLY have as a conceptual roadmap. Maybe they are just soliciting feedback in hopes of us helping them define that. For me it’s doing exactly what I want right now, but they DO need to bring it up to the level of it’s current competition in features ( many of which we’ve already described in these forum entries.)

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Our objective for Agenda is what you already see now: a note taker with a focus on projects and dates. We will add features as we go, but the core is already there. You can already see what it is and decide if it is for you.

It will never be a task manager like Things or OmniFocus. It has some overlap (lists etc), but it will never match those apps feature-for-feature. You either have to find a way to integrate Agenda with those apps, or adapt whatever system you have been using so that it fits better with the freeform note taking approach that Agenda has.

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This is really good to hear! It’s exactly what I think most of us DO want. Others might be disappointed it’s not ALL those things, though. LOL.

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Well put.
A more robust iOS / x-callback scheme on the Agenda side would perhaps be the easiest way to bring much of this value to the product.
I hope it moves up in priority.