Update Aug 07, 2007: I have created a new version of my ListPro GTD System. It includes lists for: Next Actions, Projects, Someday/Maybes, Tickler File, Reference System Index, Overview of GTD Workflow and Weekly Review Checklist. You can now purchase this Pro Version straight from my webshop. The free version (only Next Actions and Someday/Maybe list) is now available for download right here.

GTD with ListProEver since my employer provided me with a PDA (iPAQ hx2490b) I have been looking for the right software to make it useful as a mobile tool for Getting Things Done. Frequent readers of this blog know that I am not particularly fond of online GTD applications. They also know that my current GTD setup consists of Excel in combination with a PocketMod.

As a kind of experiment to make my GTD system ever more simple (while maintaining flexibility and portability) I have used Ilium Software ListPro for the last couple of weeks as a single tool for implementing GTD.

Read on to find out how I am trying to get back to the basics of Getting Things Done… GTD is all lists after all!

Implementing GTD with ListPro

First of all, I probably could have used any other task list program for Windows Mobile out there. I didn’t. I stuck with ListPro because so far it does what I need. There is no affiliation between Ilium Software and me.

ListPro installs to your (Windows) desktop computer as well as to your Windows Mobile PDA. I am not going to talk much about the desktop version; it basically provides the same functionality as the PDA version.

For reference, let me give you a quick overview of my current GTD system. It consists of a custom made Excel sheet with an overview page (dashboard if you will), a next actions list, a project list and a someday/maybe list. This Excel sheet provides the flexibility I require of my GTD system (sort, filter, print, et cetera). Portability is provided simply by printing the Excel sheet onto a PocketMod.

Using ListPro on my PDA is an attempt (or experiment) to make my GTD system even more simple, while maintaining flexibility and portability. Basically, I am trying to go back to one master list, which looks like this:

ListPro - All

As you can see, I use my PDA in landscape mode for maximum usability. The screenshot above shows the simple but effective layout of my next action list. The underlying structure of this list was easily created by using a combination of standard as well as custom list fields in ListPro:

ListPro - List Structure

Let me briefly explain all the fields to you:

  • X – action done yes/no
  • Flag – action important yes/no
  • Action – item description
  • Project – optional project
  • Context – context for action
  • Due – optional due date
  • WF – waiting for yes/no

Next actions can easily be marked complete, marked with a specific color (highlight), deleted, moved, copied and so on. Ignore the Flag field and highlight colors if you really require a straightforward GTD next action list. Flagged items can be hidden or shown. The same goes for completed items.

Of course, filtering and sorting your list of next actions is crucial. For instance, the following screenshot shows the filter Context = Computer:

ListPro - Filter Context

Multiple filters are allowed. For example, you could easily show the phone calls you need to make that are due today. Or you could show all the “waiting for” items. If you are working on a next action for a specific project, maybe you would like to see which remaining next actions (if any) are listed for that project:

ListPro - Filter Project

Multiple sorts (up to three columns) are also possible. For instance, the screenshot below shows all next actions (except the completed ones) sorted by Context and then by Action:

ListPro - Sort Context

A combination of filtering and sorting ensures you always have the view of your next actions list that is most appropriate according to your situation. I use flagged items to mark really important next actions. The following screenshot demonstrates the ListPro feature which allows you to only display your flagged items:

ListPro - Show Flagged

Of course, flagged items can be used in any way you like; it all depends on the semantics you assign to it.

Adding or editing a next action couldn’t be more simple:

ListPro - Item

Additionally, items may be edited inline.
Note the Project and Context field in the screenshot above. These are actually pull-down lists because Projects and Contexts are defined as categories in ListPro. You can add or delete any item to any category you want.

My someday/maybe list is contained in another, separate ListPro list. I’m not showing it here because it is really nothing more than a simple list with only one column.

I don’t use all the features of ListPro. For instance, I have no use for hierarchical tasks. ListPro has a very convenient import and export feature. Migrating my next actions from Excel to ListPro was done in a couple of seconds. Printing a list of next actions is sometimes convenient if you do not want to take your PDA with you. Even though I would have liked to see a little bit more flexibility regarding print options in the desktop version of ListPro, I am still satisfied with the resulting list on paper.

So far I am pretty pleased with ListPro on my PDA. I haven’t used my Excel/PocketMod for GTD in a couple of weeks. Of course I can always go back to my old system very quickly if I want to. For now I think I will stick to ListPro a little bit longer!