In the past, I have struggled with getting things done. I eventually resorted to a professionally-designed and developed GTD solution, called Things. Then its quality fell off a little bit. Then I started looking around for something else and I found Wunderlist.
I first heard about Things when it was announced at MacWorld 2009 in San Francisco. I finally purchased a copy of it the following October and started using it right away. An iPhone version of the app came out at about the same time. I bought it because I was really impressed with the fit-and-finish and the functionality of the application. The Mac/iOS device syncing was especially attractive. I purchased the Mac version at the discounted student price of $35.00 (USD) and the iPhone version was $10.00 in the App Store.
It was not an insignificant expense for a college student, but I really needed something like this in order to keep myself on track so I could keep my GPA up and graduate on time. Those both happened, in 2010.
Unfortunately, Things seems to have become “the app time forgot.” Updates are still coming every month or two, but they only contain small bug fixes, with no new features or functionality appearing for a long, long time. Meanwhile, Cultured Code’s competitors caught up with them, and then some. I stuck around with Things because it was familiar and because non-cloud sync was not a big deal-killer for me.
I really do like Things’ task tags, Places, and People. They make it very easy to categorize and sort tasks. I have a list of tasks for Home, one for School, one for Work, and so on. That way, I can easily see a list of tasks appropriate for my location. I also make use of repeating events for tasks like paying the monthly utility bills.
I came across Wunderlist very early in 2012 while I was searching for new GTD apps. I was impressed with its slick interface and its very well-executed cloud sync. Not only is Wunderlist on the Mac and all iOS devices, it also exists on Windows and Linux and it has a web interface. The user experience between all nine of its platforms is remarkably consistent and you would see virtually the same interface wherever you use Wunderlist. Even better, Wunderlist is still under development and is not (yet) abandonware.
Wunderlist is still under development, however, and there are a few features that I liked in Things that are not there yet, namely repeated events. I heavily use repeated events in Things so that I do not have to worry about constantly changing the due date on an event to remind myself about something next week or next month. It is one feature in Things that I really like that I find missing in Wunderlist. In fact, repeated events is probably the one thing that is keeping me from completely abandoning Things all together.
Synchronization in Wunderlist is amazing. As someone who has had to find ways to work around the idiosyncrasies of Things’ WiFi sync for two and a half years, cloud sync in any GTD app was a breath of fresh air. I can have Wunderlist running on my iPhone, my MacBook Pro, and my iMac and they all stay in sync no matter where I go. With Things, I was only able to sync between one Mac and one iOS device. There is some lag when syncing two or more devices through the cloud, but I do not think this would be a big problem for most people in most situations.
Development on Wunderlist is still proceeding and you can follow their progress on their official blog.
There are a few key points that I wanted to highlight about both GTD solutions. These are points that I, personally, would consider but there may be other factors that you would consider.
|Price||$50 (Mac), $20 (iPad), $10 (iPhone)||Free|
|Cloud sync||Private beta||Yes|
|Projects for tasks||Yes||Yes|
|Location-specific task lists||Yes||No|
In case I get any feedback from someone that there are more than two GTD solutions available, rest assured that I know. I wrote about these two in particular because these are the two that I am most familiar with, mainly because I use them on a daily basis.
Unless Cultured Code starts making bigger changes to Things, I am afraid I will have to completely jump ship. I love Things and I think it is a very nice, polished Mac/iOS app. I would love to continue to use it. Unfortunately, Cultured Code seems to have spent so much time trying to craft its own cloud sync solution that they have neglected their app itself.
Neither Wunderlist nor Things completely meets my needs at the moment. I am in the position of having two GTD apps running at the same time. It takes a bit of thought to prioritize things, rather than having the app do all of that for me. I am just presenting my experiences with these two app here and if it helps you make a decision about a GTD solution for yourself, consider putting your own experiences in the comments.