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I've read some of the GTD material by David Allan and it's something I'd like to implement. A lot of his material uses hand written notes and lists. This isn’t an option for me since I’m totally blind. I’m looking for info on GTD setups that are mostly or completely electronic.

Ideally the setup would work on my iPhone since it’s always on me, as well as have computer access from the command line since that’s where I spend a lot of my time for my job. A bonus would be a way to have my information stored in an encrypted format but this is probably difficult to do with cloud based services.

If it would involve setting up a server of my own this is something I am comfortable doing since I work in the IT field. I’m not super comfortable with the privacy implications of storing all y tasks in a cloud based task management system but I probably don’t have a choice. As requested in a comment a little about my technology setup.

I use windows computers with screen reading software. All of the windows computers have Cygwin installed to provide a UNIX like environment. I also use Voiceover on an iPhone. While I doubt it matters the iPhone is jail broken if that gives me more choices in software to use. For purposes of this question assume all iPhone and windows software is accessible. The truth is somewhat more complicated than that but I’d like to get a lot of ideas and having to do research then not getting enough information.

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Would you mind clarifying exactly how your computer interactions differ from those of sighted people? It seems like an important distinction and a unique requirement for any system you implement and I want to make sure the answers you get take this into account. You hint at a little with the command line reference and I assume there is an element of text-to-speech/braille. But most iPhone apps are highly visual--there is no feedback when buttons/keys have been pushed, no physical keyboard at all. I think any elucidation would help potential answerers. – Adam Wuerl Jul 8 '11 at 11:41
What e-mail system do you use? Some (like gmail) have extensions for GTD. I imagine they would be accessible if the host e-mail client is. – Jeanne Boyarsky Jul 8 '11 at 23:45
Given the privacy concern, "Thinking Rock" is a non-cloud GTD system you may want to check out. They are at: – eflat Feb 8 '12 at 21:51

Currently I've got a fairly close to purely digital GTD setup, although this could do with some refinements and tweaks.

To-Do: I use Things for my to-do list. It supports tags (which can be used to create contexts), an inbox, next actions, projects quick entry of items, and iPhone & iPad support. This currently uses a local network sync to keep devices in sync, but cloud syncing support is coming soon. Other options which can provide similar functionality would include Wunderlist (which is free and cross platform, but lacks tags for easy context creation), OmniFocus (more expensive and Mac only, but industrial strength), Remember The Milk (cross platform, free for some features, monthly fee for premium features) and a host of other applications. If you want a command-line heavy to-do list, todo.txt supports a fair bit of the GTD setup using scripts/apps to modify a plaintext file for todo lists. Droplist Todo is a similar approach of plain text files for lists, but uses Dropbox for syncing, so the transmission of data is encrypted (though still stored on Dropbox servers.)

Calendar: I use a Google Calendar and the Exchange Calendar at work. They both can be synced to my iPhone and other devices, so I'm good to go.

Tickler File: You could implement one using a site like FollowUpThen, which allows you to send an email to a procedurally formatted address, and you'll receive the email back at the given time (e.g. will return the email a day later, will return it on July 4th, etc.) You could also build a folder structure to mimic the 43 folders suggested as a tickler file setup.

Capture: This comes down to what you want to capture, and how. The iPhone can record audio files directly, if you are up to processing them regularly. You could also get a Google Voice account, and set it up so that if you call it, it sends you directly to voicemail. Google Voice voicemail can be configured to transcribe voicemail to email (using automated voice transcription, which isn't perfect but is decent) - the upshot is you get an email a short time later with a link to the audio file, as well as a text transcription. Dragon Dictate for the iPhone is free, and also can do voice to text directly on the phone - it requires switching applications though. For capturing text, you could either use an application like PlainText to edit and keep text synced, or an email based system by using tags in the email address (e.g. sends the email to, but an email filter can detect the unique to: address and react accordingly.)

Many of these details need to be tweaked based on the platforms and user preferences - if you're using Windows or Linux, some of these apps are irrelevant. Also, I'm assuming that text and voice input are preferred for accessibility, although I could be missing some better method.


Given that you're looking for iPhone and Windows specific setups, here are some additional comments/thoughts:

To-do: Two of the apps I mentioned (Things & OmniFocus are Mac only.) Toodledo Pro gets closer - you have the full GTD capability, plus encryption for your to-do lists. It also can be controlled from the command line with some tricks, such as its Twitter integration - it does cost ~$15/year though. The Dropbox-based to do apps such as Droplist Todo should work anywhere, as long as you don't mind text editing on some systems. Remember the Milk has the sync and interface options, but doesn't appear to have an encrypted store as far I've seen.

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My GTD system is effectively 100 percent electronic--as described in detail here. The only exceptions are my project files, but that's personal preference and driven by the nature of my work.

My tool is Remember the Milk, which has a web app and an iPhone app. One feature I think you'll find valuable is the ability to add tasks, including all relevant metadata, via a single task-entry line, but not through the command-line interface.

There is a way to default to https to encrypt your communication, but it is a cloud-based service.

One way to increase your privacy would be to store your project data locally (say a bunch of text files) and only put tasks in your GTD next action system.

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Does adding tasks through a single entry line work on the iPhone as well? I've looked at the iPhone app but entering tasks took longer then I liked, entering them as a single line of text could help with this. – Jared Jul 8 '11 at 22:21
@Jared I just tested it and yes, single line entry works on the iPhone app. It has the drop down menus, but you don't have to use them, you can just enter the special characters like @ # ^ * ! etc. and the other data instead. – Adam Wuerl Jul 8 '11 at 22:59

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