GTD Journey: Settling down with Nirvana
After spending more time on changing apps than I'd care to admit, I finally realized that it was turning into something of a hobby, and I'd be better off picking something, accepting its limitations, and trying to make it work.
Over the past few years, I've been plagued by the “Feature chasing” virus.
I promised myself to stick with one productivity system after testing out several tools in 2018, then I rediscovered GTD with the Nirvana app in 2018, I jumped between Nirvana and Todoist, I kept using Nirvana for a while in 2020 only to get back to Todoist at the end of 2020, used it for a while throughout 2021 and got a little annoyed with the number of new features and updates the app was getting.
After 7+ months of tweaking Todoist tags, flags, and filters to conform with GTD I concluded that the hassle was not worth it. While Todoist offers some cool things like the perfect calendar integration and the natural language input, the way it manages projects and sub-tasks is still clunky (to me).
I am project-oriented so I usually have 10 to 20 active projects at one time. And their status can change on a weekly basis. That means if a project becomes “inactive” or “on-hold” I want to easily change its status and not have any next actions related to it showing up on my daily lists. I solved that in Todoist by creating separate folders for “someday/maybe” projects and used filters to exclude those from my active lists. It worked for the most part, but the process of moving projects/folders in Todoist has not been smooth for me.
I just think Todoist is cumbersome for projects. Maybe if I stopped using projects and not linking next actions to projects I would like Todoist better.
But I use projects. A lot! I quickly tried Microsoft To-Do using hashtags to filter next actions by projects but at some time point, the hashtags became pretty messy. And they weren’t good placeholders for my next actions. I totally lost control.
I still prefer the way Nirvana handles projects: it's built in the system.
So I'm settling back down with the Nirvana app. I think it conforms with how my brain works. It covers the GTD method elegantly with simplicity.
Reasons why I prefer Nirvana:
- Nirvana has that .txt simplicity. I think having an extremely colorful to-do list manager was distracting to me. I like some colors, so I added a few emojis to Nirvana’s tags and I’m happy with it. (Note: not all emojis work in Nirvana, I’m not sure why, but some do).
- In Nirvana, I can actually add a due date to a project and mark it as complete. I love this!
- The projects list is way more organized. It's clear to see what is active and what isn't.
- Someday-Maybe is managed in a much better way with its native functionality.
- To read more: I talk a little about how Nirvana works here.
A snapshot of some tags I keep in Nirvana
So I’ve experimented a lot this past year…
… and I’ve read a lot about GTD and productivity. I used to receive weekly news and articles about productivity tools and I decided to let go of all that. Consuming productivity content was making me anxious.
I was induced to keep trying new tools...
…Experimenting with different methods…
…Spending whole weekends tweaking an app…
…And it wasn’t working. The perfect tool was never there.
There was a book that helped me a lot last year: The Getting Things Done Workbook by David Allen and Brandon Hall. It’s an action-oriented guide based on the GTD principles and it made me realize I was overcomplicating everything!
2021 was a year I learned a lot about myself. I developed a better sense of how my brain works and its preferences. And I concluded that the GTD workflow still aligns with me. I rediscovered Nirvana, a simple tool that I always enjoyed.
I also set up an Excel spreadsheet to help me organize what GTD describes as “Higher Horizons”:
- Horizon 02: Areas of Focus
- Horizon 03: Goals
- Horizon 04: Vision
And in this same spreadsheet, I have a tab for my quarterly/monthly Planning.
I will write a future post about this spreadsheet. It’s working beautifully! 😍
By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.