Improvements to search with GTD in mind

When you get to updating search on the roadmap, I hope this area gets a lot of thought. David Allen said for GTD that one of the keys is to have a system you trust, and until you have that, you will never be able to clear your mind.

Agenda is very close to that system. It works better than anything I’ve seen and the addition of Reminders integration is beautiful. The key to keeping me from having that full trust is the fear of things falling through the cracks. Examples:

  • Reminders that are overdue. Yes, I can go look in the Reminders app, but if I am in here, I’d like to have a saved search that would show them to me in context.
  • Projects with open checkboxes. The developers have indicated that they strongly feel that all /remind type reminders must have a date or date/time, and if they don’t, there is no difference from putting them in Agenda. I can accept that, but only if I know they won’t get lost. Right now, there is no way of ensuring that I don’t have notes out there with open checkboxes. To me, this is the most critical missing feature.
  • Not Done / Done notes. In the same way that I want to see checkboxes that aren’t done, it would be nice to filter on notes that are not done. Indeed, it would be nice if there was a different note icon for notes which “can” be completed vs. notes which are just that; notes.

I’m certain there are other metadata conditions which would be good to search on. These are just the ones most keeping me up at night currently.


Couldn’t agree more. I just can’t trust that things won’t fall through the cracks without a system for seeing unchecked items, etc.

I mean, not to be blunt, but what is the point of having checkboxes if they don’t provide much functionality other than if someone manually looks through their notes? Seems like a very old-school way of doing things.

I’ve worked with various GTD systems through the years, the latest being OmniFocus. But I find Agenda works much better for me than any of those systems.

I have my active projects on the Agenda, and I see those notes everyday. The chance I see a task that needs doing, when it is grouped into an active project, is much, much greater than it was with the GTD next item approach. I work on a note (set of tasks), until I am done with it. That doesn’t always mean all the tasks are checked off, but I am at least at a point where I have decided they are not important, or can’t easily be done, or whatever. At that point the note goes off the agenda.

I bought into that whole “you must review everything” GTD approach in the beginning, and I am now at “you shouldn’t review old, outdated stuff”. It is just clutter. There are a few projects I am working on now that are really important, and a little sketchy planning for future projects, but most of the checkboxes I now ignore in old projects are not relevant. If they were, they would recur, and come back. (This is more the philosophy of the Basecamp company books.)


I think one of the differences here may be the scale of “active projects”. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but at any point in time I am managing upwards of 100 partners all of them who may have one or more projects, issues, proposals and the line in place. While I may not move all those balls forward each week (I DO Sleep a little), which ones get worked on can depend very much of the shape the week takes … who gets back to me, where do I have extra time, etc. When I am in the flow, I find myself scanning my open threads constantly to take advantage of which balls I can move forward. That to me has been part of the beauty of GTD, having an explicit list of open items I can react to, and not worry about something falling through the cracks. I may not get to something, but it’s a conscious decision not an oops decision. This is why it’s so important for me to be able to develop that trust and also why I can’t use OTA the way you do. I do use it, generally for the key items I decide to focus on for a week. I just need to always be able to see what else is out there.

Hope that helps