Catherine got a MacBook (Combo Drive) last week. Though it’s her computer, I’ve been using it pretty extensively in the past few days. And it’s changing my life for the better.
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Long story short. My iBook (Dual USB) from 2001 went kaput in December 2005. In a hurry to get a new computer and being a bit short on cash, I ended up a few weeks later with a refurbished eMachines desktop running XP. Though my original dissatisfaction with the machine probably had to do with the lack of RAM, I still thought fondly of my Mac OS X days and was longing for the day I could use a Mac again. Now that I can, I know why I missed Mac OS X so much.
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At this point, I come to think that those people who love XP machines are those who like to play fast-paced games and/or to pirate software. I love computers for other reasons so these don’t apply to me.
Contrary to what is said in the Justin Long and John Hodgman ads, I tend to see Mac OS X as a way to get things done.
Yes, Getting Things Done is the title of a best-selling book by David Allen and has become a buzzphrase in recent years. I was indirectly influenced by some ideas from the book but I prefer to use my own methods of time-management. Still, I can easily associate the Mac with GTD the concept, if not GTD the book (which I haven’t had the time to read).
This past weekend, I read a “Final Assessment” on a Mac OS X application called iGTD. It’s a rather straightforward tool for managing tasks. Kind of a “to-do list on steroids.”
While iGTD isn't as close to the GTD letter as, say, ThinkingRock, it's native Mac software with hooks into other OS X apps like Quicksilver, iBackup, Growl and a menubar entry all built-in for. For Mac is a desktop-based solution that offers Mac users functionality for organizing and managing tasks and todo items. If you read a majority of reviews about Apple Macintosh software, you will notice that there are three serious Mac based apps, including iGTD, OmniFocus and Things.
I tried iGTD for a few minutes last night. Neat app and it might end up being useful. I’ll give it more thought as time goes on but as I need to switch between different computers, I don’t think it’ll become my ultimate solution.
Trying iGTD was also a chance for me to try QuickSilver again, after all this time spent on an XP machine. I really like QS and I can really see how it fits in the GTD frame. It’s a convenient way to accomplish a large number of tasks very efficiently. It’s not the fact that it saves you a few seconds at a time which matters. It’s the fact that it makes it easy to not think about what you want to accomplish. Kind of what the QuickSilver people call “Wei Wu Wei – Act Without Doing.” QS is really a Mac OS X thing. It only works on Macs and it really fits in the Mac-based methodology for computer use.
Another example of Mac OS X apps to get things done: OmniOutliner. This is probably the single app which I most missed on XP. Sure, there are outliners on XP. But none of them made my workflow as smooth as OO did. I tried NetManage EccoPro and eventually abandoned it. EccoPro is very powerful and it was an ok replacement for the actual outlining functions but the fact that it hasn’t been developed in ages means that it lacks the kind of features which really make things go smoothly. In other words, EccoPro is not that compatible with the Mac way of just doing things.
Things are so easy in my OO workflow! For instance, while preparing for courses, I would use OO to take rough notes while reading course material. (Actually, I took many of these notes on a PalmOS device to transfer to OO. That part was never so seamless and I tried everything to improve it but it was a vain attempt. Transferring from Palm to EccoPro is a bit simpler.) In OO, transforming raw notes into course outlines was extremely easy and efficient. I could then easily transform those outlines into printable lesson plans and slides using LaTeX, Keynote, PowerPoint, or RTF. All told, I could transform rough notes into course material in less than 10 minutes without thinking much about what I was doing. Made everything so easy that it really took me a while to adapt my workflow to XP. In fact, I can’t say I ever did. Sure, XP people will say that I could in fact do the same thing thing on XP, that I’m just an Apple fanboy. The fact that the PalmOS integration with OS X wasn’t so smooth seems to prove that point. But the key point here is not about my ability to do things. It’s about the flow part of workflow. Every method I used on XP to accomplish the same tasks eventually worked and I became quite good at them. I probably ended up spending just a few minutes more on any of these tasks. But nothing was really smooth. I could never be mindless about the process. I constantly had to make sure everything was working.
As it turns out OO also fits in the GTD frame. In fact, the first time I heard of GTD was probably on the OO user mailing-list. Some people there wanted the ultimate GTD solution based on OO. OO didn’t have a lot of GTD-savvy features but it seems that it could fit in the GTD methodology overall.
One step further, I think Mac OS X as a whole fits in the GTD frame.
But I probably will never jump on the GTD bandwagon. AFAICT, GTD is mostly based on sorting tasks and tracking them. Again, “to-do list on steroids.” But, contrary to my mother and to my wife, I’m usually no good with to-do lists. I keep accumulating stuff in them and end up more frustrating. Centralized systems work better for me so I do a lot on Gmail. Those who don’t know me extremely well certainly think that I’m completely disorganized. But I’ve found ways to organize myself through apparent chaos. In short, I’m messy and I’m proud of it. But I do respond to the very concept of “just getting things done already” which seems to be associated with GTD-friendly applications. In this case: iGTD, QS, OO, and… Mac OS X.
It sure is good to be back in Mac!
Mac GTD: Things by CulturedCode
2007 seemed to be the year of the GTD application. While task management has been around since Adam & Eve, the GTD methodology of task management has only recently caused quite a stir in personal productivity. David Allen has a cult-like following in adhering to his principals and there are now a slew of both online and desktop applications that help you organize your life. One of the newest entries in desktop applications for the Mac is Things, by CulturedCode.
I am currently testing an alpha version of Things. A beta version is forthcoming which of course is soon to be followed by a public release. For an alpha release, ‘Things’ is looking pretty good (man, that sounds weird).
Back in May, when the GTD light flipped on for me, I started to use iGTD for the Mac. I know there are a lot of iGTD fans out there, but for me and my quest for excellent design, iGTD fell short in usability and really diluted my overall mac experience. Once you commit yourself to a GTD system and application, you will be in that application all of the time, much like email. So, you better like it or the system won’t work very well. Then I found Remember the Milk (RTM) and I have been using it ever since. Two things work very well in favor of RTM: great design, and online access as it’s a web application. Unfortunately, Things is only available as a desktop application and there is no synchronization or online capabilities as of yet. It’s important that I have access to my GTD system while on the go, so I need access to my tasks on my iPhone. RTM has a iPhone interface that works very well for me. With an iPhone SDK due out soon, perhaps CulturedCode will look at an iPhone version with the ability to sync back to the desktop. That just might persuede me to make the switch.
As desktop applications go, Things succeeds where iGTD fails — usability. Mountain lion mac os x free download. If you are a iGTD user, you should take a closer look at Things. It follows the Mac design mantra very well and is quite intuitive. Things has great tagging support and soon to be added collaboration which could get very interesting. One thing that Things offers that RTM does not is the notion of sub-tasks in a project. Of course, there are work-arounds in RTM, but Things has great functionality around both one-off tasks and projects. Things follows the GTD methodology fairly closely without being too rigid.
Overall, I really like Things. CulturedCode has done a good job with the interface and user experience. If they manage to get Things onto the iPhone, I would seriously consider Things to be my GTD of choice. For right now, I’m sticking with Remember the Milk.