Getting Things Done

I’ve tried a handful of GTD utilities over the course of the last 12 months; the three that stayed with me the longest were Tracks, PHP GTD and for the past six months I’ve been going with Thinking Rock. I’ve switched back from a web based solution to a standalone application because it simply is faster and snappier in its handling.

Furthermore, it has all the same features as its web based counterparts, is cross platform and also allows for tracking on the go, for example by setting up an email account which is polled for inbox items.

Here my thoughts about the three utilities:

Tracks 2

To be fair, a new version of Tracks has been released since I last used it. So some of the issues I had with Tracks, might have been resolved. However, since Tracks is a ruby application, I doubt that its performance problems on my hosted environment was resolved – that really is more of a local problem for me, than a product problem. So, if you have a well working ruby on rails environment, I certainly recommend Tracks for a well designed GTD solution.

Why I like Tracks 2:

  • web based
  • very nice interface, very intuitive to use
  • platform independent
  • Android based, mobile application to complement the web based solution

What I disliked about Tracks 2:

  • quite difficult to setup on a common web hoster like mine (Bluehost)
  • very, very, veeeeery slow – at least on Bluehost; particularly on the first access
  • sometimes, lacking extensibility


This product felt a little like being back in the 90s. For some reason, the UI feels unpolished and that can easily distract from the fact that it’s a pretty powerful platform. There’s quite more to it then meets the eye.

What I like about PHP GTD:

  • Allows highly customized structuring of actions
  • web based
  • well performing, quite easy to set up
  • Actions usually go throught the typical GTD stages

What I dislike about PHP GTD:

  • User interface rather complicated
  • Interactivity (e.g. Ajax) feels like glued on instead of integrated like in Tracks
  • Actions can get lost in elaborate structure of project and sub projects

Thinking Rock

Why I finally ended up working on Thinking Rock:

  • Stand-alone application, cross-platform
  • Very snappy when entering and organizing actions
  • Good reporting capabilities
  • Data entry is quick and easy, goes through the typical GTD stages
  • Separation of
    • somedays: not right now but some time later (including ticklers to remind one),
    • scheduled items: need to be done on a particular date
    • and asap todos: as the name suggests, do as soon as possible
  • If you feel fancy, you can even enter required energy levels and required time for actions and then work them off according to your mood and available time
  • Separation of your own actions and the ones that were delegated to someone else: great for tracking the outcomes and resulting action items of a meeting, for example

Thinking Rock stays quite true to the original GTD definition; this can be a good and a bad thing, I guess.

There’s also a commercial release of Thinking Rock, which basically is the further improved version 3 of the product. So far, I’ve stayed with version 2 and didn’t have the feeling that I’m missing anything. An in-depth comparison of the two releases, can be found on the Thinking Rock website.

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