Getting Things Done (GTD) with Ultra Recall (part 1)

Posted February 13th, 2006 by kevin

I recently read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, which is subtitled “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” Many of our users are implementing a GTD solution with Ultra Recall, so I wanted to see what the book/methodology had to offer and determine if it could help me become more organized (something I know I could use).

First, a little about the book is itself. In Getting Things Done, David Allen gives his theory on why most of us are not as organized (and hence productive) as we could be and provides a framework or methodology to use in solving this problem, giving examples, quotes and anecdotal comments along the way. Much of the approach is common sense, yet it is presented in a logical, comprehensive way with enough persuasion to convince me to give it a try. I personally thought it was a bit laborious with some repetition and redundancy, but the overall content is interesting, useable, and worth reading.

In a nutshell, my take on the entire GTD process can be summed up as:

  • Something external to yourself must document ALL current and future projects, tasks, ideas, reference info, appointments, etc.
  • This “system” used to record your “life” should be purposeful, readily available, and convenient.
  • Time must be routinely scheduled (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) to review and update your information.
  • The key to actually getting things done is action, the next of which for each endeavor on your list should be identified, documented and prioritized to ensure successful completion.
    Here is how each of these concepts resonated with me:

  • This is something I kind of knew I should do, but Allen provides compelling reasons WHY it should be done – to free up your mind for a higher purpose than trying to remember what, when and where I should be in the future.
  • Ultra Recall is a very suitable application to “digitally” implement the GTD system due to its flexibility, structure and efficiency.
  • Setting aside time to consistently review and process the many inputs, projects, tasks, dreams etc., is the area I am weakest in. Improving this area could reap large returns in my productivity going forward.
  • The emphasis on the Next Action and centering your life on this concept seems very logical and helpful as it helps you stay focused on achieving the desired outcome.
    In summary, the book doesn’t offer the organizational “silver bullet” (which simply doesn’t exist!), but does offer a practical, useful system which I believe can reduce the level of stress in your life. It requires personal discipline, an initial investment of time and resources to develop a system for your life, and a consistent commitment to its implementation and maintenance.

    I will be implementing the GTD methodology using Ultra Recall in the coming weeks, and will post my findings and a template or two along the way. In the meantime, here are a couple Ultra Recall GTD templates that users have previously submitted on our forum:

  • My GTD Take
  • GTD Template 1.3

  • 6 Comments on “Getting Things Done (GTD) with Ultra Recall (part 1)”

    1. Mercedes Says:

      I attended to a training of GTD in Buenos Aires – Argentina. I consider that is easier to understand the Allen’s proposal in an instructor-led course, than in the book. For me the book is great as a reminder.

      I like the Allen’s system a lot. I use my Palm Pilot for the lists, projects, etc., and periodic reviews are also my weak point.

      For me ultra recall seems to be a perfect tool to have the reference file in an electronic version.

      I say “seems”, because I just found this website, and the tool. I am about to download it and try it (I have to develop a PKMS for one of my Master’s course, and we are evaluating some tools).

    2. Daly de Gagne Says:

      Kevin, I read your article on GTD with interest, and am delighted you are taking up the GTD challenge. I am especially interested in seeing how you use UltraRecall as a GTD tool.

      Please keep us posted on your GTD experiences, and feel free to join the GTD Yahoo group.


    3. Kinook Software Blog » Blog Archive » Getting Things Done (GTD) with Ultra Recall (part 2) Says:

      [...] Since my first post about using the Getting Things Done system with Ultra Recall, we have been very busy working on the next Ultra Recall release, but I have also been spending some time working on actually using the GTD system with Ultra Recall to better organize my life. I had intended to implement the GTD methodology immediately after I read the book and initially blogged on the topic, but I must confess that this did not occur. [...]

    4. Kurt Says:

      Is there a way to automatically move completed tasks to the Completed GTD section. Right now I have to do manually.

    5. Kevin Says:

      Currently there isn’t an automatic way to move completed tasks to the Completed GTD “section” but below is a suggestion to simplify this process in Ultra Recall.

      Define an Advanced Search, with a criteria of:
      - Item is “Task”
      - and Flag equals “Completed”
      - and “Parent Title” does not equal “Completed GTD”
      - and “Item Title” does not equal “Completed GTD”

      Save the search somewhere, perhaps with the name of “Completed Tasks”

      Whenever you want to move newly completed Tasks to the Completed GTD item, select this search, then
      1) select all of the search results with Ctrl+3, then Ctrl+A (keyboard shortcuts for
      2) display the Link/Move dialog with Alt+L
      3) Navigate to the Completed GTD item, choose Move, then OK

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks. Been testing out GTD with Ultra Recall. Nice to read a bit about it.