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If you want it done right...

David Nunez
David Nunez
2 min read

I have spent way too many hours of my life searching for the ideal GTD system. I’ve been through ‘em all: diy planner, kinkless, frictionless, tracks, index cards, printable ceo, and even plain text files. Usually, I’ll spend an entire afternoon just transferring data back and forth… precious, irretrievable minutes lost on pointless migrations.

Every platform comes very close to being good enough to trust. However, all of them fall short for various reasons. ANY system will fail if it’s not a complete pleasure to use. Systems that do not urge me into action are going to disappoint me, no matter how clever.

I’ve noticed a new crop of apps starting to appear in the scene and something struck me about attempts at GTD nirvana. They all essentially do the same thing: they present information in table, outline, and list formats. None of them do much more than help organize a set of lists – this is a great start, though; even David Allen says it all comes down to lists.

The point of this post isn’t to enumerate why these platforms don’t turn me on. Let’s just leave it at, “they don’t.” (Not entirely true, every one of them has elements that I could see co-opting for my ultimate platform, but none of them get me excited about doing things on their own).

I believe that there can exist a GTD framework that not only handles day-to-day battlefields, but can also tap into some different cognitive access points. Why does everything have to be lists? Why not ephemeral clouds? Why not physical devices that urge me into activity by nudging me in the right direction? Do any GTD apps really help you decide what to do next, or don’t they all just present a too broad set of information?

They need to be smarter… What if our GTD platform showed you not all the things you COULD get done to fill your time, but only the very next thing you should get done to evolve your soul?

At the end of the day, yes, I realize that I’m the only one that can make me get stuff done, and I will fully own up to the reality that this endless tinkering is, indeed, a form of procrastination.

#That being said, I am pretty convinced that I’m the only one that can build the better system.

… the better system as defined by “what works for me.”

A long, long time ago (okay, 2003), I hinted at an application I was hacking away at called Tock. It was basically GTD before everyone else had read the book.

I even had a prototype. It committed “paradigm violence.”

It should probably be dusted off.

I realized though, that my working style has changed and I really need to field test anything I come up with in a rapid development environment. So, over just a couple hours this weekend, I threw together the Project-Task-Context model in Ruby on Rails.


”Ugh! Not another web 2.0 wannabe app!”

Exactly. However, RoR makes for a good prototyping environment… this will help me get the backend right. It will let me tinker on experiments like, “Tock, give me the 9 things I should work on today.”

I was very close to just forking Tracks, but I realized that there was too much in there just to support AJAX user interfaces. Tock isn’t about that. Tock laughs at web browsers. Hell, he laughs at mice and keyboards.

You’ll see…


David Nunez Twitter

Dir of Technology at the MIT Museum • Writing about emerging tech's impact on your life • Speculative insights on the intersection of humanity and technology 🤖


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