Backpack vs TiddlyWiki – The battle rages

I have been slowly adopting more of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system as time wears on. The bits and pieces I have been using have been very helpful. Specifically the reframing of “to-do” lists as “next action” lists. Most of my personal system/interpretation has been paper-driven to date. Brett Kelly over at the Cranking Widgets Blog has an excellent post on 4 Fantastic Reasons Why GTD Converts Should All Start with Paper Systems, and fundamentally I agree with the bulk of what he says. My current paper system (which is the bulk of my GTD implementation to date) consists of a HipsterPDA with index cards and templates from DIYPlanner.com, a few good pens and a Moleskine reporter style blank notebook. The HipsterPDA is fundamentally scrap paper and capture device. The reporter has a more formal list of next actions, a section for project development, a list of important phone numbers, a bunch of mini-post-its for captures, and a small section for a 30-day see-if-I-still-want-it waiting list for things I would like to buy.

Aside from the above I have been using two online components. Both serve the same purpose and I am trying to decide which is best for me. The first is a hosted TiddlyWiki over at Tiddlyspot.com. Specifically I am using the MonkeyGTD version. I have really enjoyed using it, but I am being more and more pulled in the direction of Backpack. Each has several strong and weak points.

TiddlyWiki

First, it’s free for the full solution. There is a donation system which is par for the course for open source developments. The MonkeyGTD tiddlywiki skin has been specifically designed for GTD and does so very elegantly. The graphic interface is tight and there is minimal scrolling to find next actions. I run with it on my USB thumb drive and upload it to the web as a back up. Unfortunately it is a fairly private solution and sharing the page publicly is an all-or-nothing deal. You can keep it password protected so that no one else can modify pages but you can’t limit what is seen.

Backpack

Rich in features as long as you pay at least the Basic subscription. Very customizable with support for calendaring, email reminders, file sharing, etc. Individual pages can be set to public so you can make temporary pages to share auctions, or projects, then tear them down when you are finished. The layout is a bit bothersome an non-compact. Backpack is not tailored to GTD but there are a lot of people out there with good adaptations to share.

I don’t know which one I will land with but my leaning for now is the tiddly. I am a bootstrapper at heart when it comes to online implementations and tiddly wiki definitely has more of that feel.

Regardless, all this think-time is helping me to continue my crusade of personal organization. The war continues.

Adventures in Organizing

Over at the ZenHabits blog I came across a very cool post, 3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk, while groggily checking email in the wee hours this morning. Read it. Love it. Maybe it was the hour, maybe it was my growing realization of how hopelessly bad I am at managing my life, and time, on numerous levels, but I was inspired. So, at work today I did this. It’s an amazingly liberating feeling. Looking now across my desk I see no pending scribbles on scraps of paper. No stacks of forms already handled. Nothing but my plastic slinkies, rubber duckies, and a couple of note books turned to fresh pages full of note taking possibility. Oh, and my NaNoWriMo mug of coffee. I like it bunches.

In the midst of making neat at work I also revisited some resources I had encountered before for using the GTD system online. My favorite, and the one I have been tinkering with today, is the GTD specific wikis you can host free over at tiddlyspot.com. The layout I like best is the MonkeyGTD 2.1 alpha version. Lots of neat, simple features, and a snap to use once you get your head wrapped about it. The best bit is that it is hosted, and therefore accessible from anywhere the internet reaches. I guess I finally need to read the original GTD book.