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Moving GTD to Windows Phone 7

Moving GTD to Windows Phone 7

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I have given my Windows Phone 7 a bit of time and I ready to blog on using it for doing GTD. I am a GTD fan boy, full disclosure.

Also, despite working for Microsoft, I know next to nothing about Windows Mobile anything, save what I've learned as a user. That might surprise some folks but Microsoft is a big company. An employee of Boeing commercial who works on the 747 program probably doesn't know much about fighter jets or "command and control" on a some other program. Neither do I know much about what happens in Mobile. They might not even call themselves Mobile.

If you are GTD user who tries to use WP7 for GTD after using it on Windows Mobile 6.5, you will initially be disappointed. There is no way to easily sync your tasks/lists and notes. No app does this. That bears repeating.

That was, shall we say, disappointing. I'm sure all this will change because my conclusion on the phone is nice phone. Mine is a Samsung on ATT and it is a very good implementation of the other stuff, like phone, people (Facebook, etc.), email, pictures. camera. All very nice, which only later, adds to the disappointment. You find your self in an SNL skit, "Really, no way to sync tasks from Outlook! Seriously, all my notes are history? I have about 100 and now there's no way??!!"

Before I go any further let me give proper respect to all the apps that were my "goto" GTD apps on 6.5, going back to years of use on Pocket PC.

  • Pocket Informant – consistently good and the best GTD app for working with Outlook Tasks.
  • PhatNotes – when Pocket Informant didn't sort by categories, guess who did. Awesome.
  • SPB Wallet – passwords safe and sound and with me when I need them. (Not GTD exactly but highly valued when I needed to get on GTD connect and could not remember my password.)

You apps were there for me. And you might be in the future.

Despite initial failures, there is a way now to use Outlook/Exchange, and GTD on the WP7. Here are the short strokes because I'm not going to give the long ones.

Notes - Switch Notes to OneNote.

You'll do a lot of copying an pasting for about 2 hours and then wonder why you didn't do this before. Simple easy synch'ing with the phone; availability on any PC where you can log on to Open it in the App client on your computer or web. Note to devs wishing to make hay on WP7: This is a great sync'ing model.

There's guidance for macros/vba/apps to export your notes but too much work for me. Just copy and paste – probably takes less than an hour for the average Notes users.

Tasks – Switch to Remember the Milk in cloud and use WinMilk on WP7

This was the biggest "fail." Wow. To the rescue comes Remember the Milk. The Outlook sync'ing is easy. The website is available all the time, any PC. The WinMilk app on the WP7 is easy and fast. Now, I'm wondering if I need to use Outlook for tasks at all. From start to finish this only took minutes.

The idea of abandoning my central tool of Outlook for everything is admittedly daunting. At first I was in denial, then angry, then, well you see where this is going. Using the cloud is scary to people like me whose computing experience has always been about my files, my hardrive, my computer. But kids today, and the two who eat the food in my fridge, don't care. So I'll give the cloud a shot for my tasks and notes.

The real problem for something like tasks is replication. Essentially, I already have a cloud solution for Outlook tasks and notes. Its called Exchange and Outlook Web client. So now, with the Remember the Milk cloud, don't I have two clouds? This is where my mind starts to wander. I might just trust the sync between different clouds for now, to say nothing of the three individual computers where I want and need to have this stuff or it just isn't GTD ready.

Anyhow, I'm trying to be less anal-retentive about stuff in general so I will suspend my disbelief and just try this cloudy solution for now.

Note to the person who came up with the name cloud – even though I live in the PacNW where clouds have the best reputation, when has a cloud been a good thing to most people? I get the amorphous nature of cloud but all the words have negative connotations. Clouds, fog, mist. C'mon! The best you can say is "it's gonna burn off."

Honorable mention to GoGetter on WP7.

If you had sync with anything, I'd probably use it. If you use your phone as your central GTD device (no PC for tasks) then this would be a good fit.

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  • Thank you for posting this!  Great overview.  Issues with GTD implementation have kept me from migrating from 6.5 to Phone 7.  This helps me feel good about my decision to stick with 6.5 until Microsoft restores Microsoft compatibility to their phone OS.

  • Just wanted to leave a message about a powertoy for OneNote that let's you export your Outlook notes directly into OneNote.  I used it for just the same reason and it worked without any problems. Now all of my Outlook notes are in OneNote and that Notebook is on and all is good.

  • Hey,

    Thanks for the post. I'm a frustrated GTD'r using onenote (I find the tags a bit to restrictive). Think I'll try GTM for lists but keep OneNote as my reference material


  • For implementing GTD you can use this web application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.

    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  • Hi, I was searching for a solution synching Tasks and notes (Everything in one place).

    But when I read your blog, it was really exactly what I figured out for me.   ;-)

    So it seemed to be a valuable solution.  :)

    Currently I´m working with:

    Contacts and Calendar from Phone 7 via Google to Thunderbird/Lightning.

    Tasks from Phone 7 (WinMilk) via RememberTheMilk to Google to Thunderbird/Lightning

    Notes from Phone 7 /Office-Hub) via MS SkyDrive to OneNote (trial 60 days)

    Greetings Jörg

  • Have been trialing several 'replacements' for my GTD fix previously cultivated on PI and PocketBreeze. What I've found so far is Appamundi takes care of exchange task syncing (including exchange 2003 as of v1.18). Strengths include sensical layout of tasks, full two-way syncing and support for copy-paste. Weaknesses are all incomplete tasks quantity is shown on the live tile. This includes recurring tasks -- including my passport and drivers license renewals 2 and 4 years down the road. Developer is working on way to only show 'today' tasks on live tile. One other limitation is no sync in background before Mango is released. After release, itl'll feel like another part of the office suite that was missing from the original wp7 release.

    The other non-exchange task manager that deserves a strong mention is CleverToDo. If you don't need exchange sync, this app does everything else very well. I especially like the live tile that shows number of tasks due today, number of high priority tasks due today, and lists the next three due tasks sequentially very neatly on the live tile. Glance and go.

    Must commed the OP for mentioning the other two items -- OneNote and SPB Wallet. So far, I'm tolerating not having SPB wallet on my phone while waiting for this much needed, overdue app. OneNote is just plain cool.


  • Thanks so much for posting what you wrote - Very helpful as I'm very attracted to the WinMob 7 platform and want to keep using Outlook for tasks.  Thanks!

  • If you are looking for GTD on Windows Phone, you could also try "lil todo":

    It's my attempt at a GTD-style to-do app for Windows Phone. It's completely free and has no ads, so give it a try. There's no syncing at the moment, but I'm looking at adding some form of syncing to desktop in the future. Since live tiles are getting easier for developers, I'll be adding that feature, too.

    lil todo is really easy to use and allows you to do the typical GTD things, like organize tasks into contexts (@home, @work, @errands, etc.) and into projects (i.e. folders).

  • Hi, there is new GTD application for Windows Phone named power GTD -

  • Quick-tip in an old thread: A WP7-app named TaskTask syncs with exchange and it is possible to list tasks by category/context. GTD-friendly!

  • I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip.

  • Cool blog, Fran:)

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