Of all of the software-based GTD “solutions” I’ve managed to get my hands on, there’s a fairly common theme among all of those that didn’t really cut the mustard: they simply tried too hard to build something that encompassed each of the main tenets of GTD, but have very little flexibility. In other words, these apps shoehorn you into the “canonical” GTD configuration without giving you room to customize the system to best suit your needs. Thankfully, Remember the Milk has managed to not only hang in there (for 3 years now), but pull ahead of the pack through integration with other products and services. And, as of this past month, these services now include Gmail and the iPhone.
RTM’s new native iPhone application (which requires a Pro account at RTM, which will set you back a scant $25 per year) is what got me to switch from my previous solution (OmniFocus on OSX + iPhone). The app is an excellent first release, much moreso than most of the other 1.0s that appear in the store. Launching and synching are both blazingly fast, unlike most local-storage-heavy iPhone apps. It also supports landscape mode for just about every view, which is a killer feature for me. It lets you fully manage the service, all from the comfort of, well, wherever you are with your iPhone.
The other new feature that really cinched it for me is the availability of an in-Gmail gadget where you can add/edit/complete todo list items without leaving Gmail (where many of my tasks and projects originate, which I’m sure is true for many of you). This is exactly the type of integration that really puts RTM a cut above the rest of the list management applications I’ve used. Couple this with the excellent Twitter integration, and RTM is never more than a few clicks/taps away, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
One great OmniFocus feature that I’d truly love to see in RTM is the ability to incubate tasks or projects until a given date/time. For example, if I know I need to send a birthday card to my Mom in 3 weeks, OmniFocus would let me set a start date for the project, so that it (as well as any associated tasks) wouldn’t show up in my lists until that date. A consistent weekly review would make sure this type of thing doesn’t sit fallow in your task list for weeks before it is actionable, but I’m a lazy programmer who likes to let computers do the thinking that I don’t really feel I have to do.
Honestly, there isn’t much I’d change about RTM’s current set of features, other than perhaps some SMS integration, but that problem is solved easily enough with the Twitter integration. Otherwise, I find it to be quite useful – not to mention a total bargain, and well worth some investigation if you’re a productivity-minded technophile like myself.
Brett Kelly is a sometimes-independent writer, software developer and productivity nerd from California. You can read more about his unending adventures online at brettkelly.org, or you can just follow him on Twitter.