The Deciding Factor...

Reviews of ThinkingRock.

The Deciding Factor...

Postby Janice » Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:02 am

To applaud and support the intrepid efforts of our GTD leaders Jeremy and Claire, I thought I'd start a topic within which we could share what distinguishing feature (or features) of ThinkingRock makes it our GTD weapon of choice.

For me: The Process page. Love it. For someone very new to GTD tactics, this page allowed me to organize my tasks immediately rather than spend time organizing a method to organize my tasks.

Thanks for the fantastic work. It is very much appreciated.
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Postby DanTK » Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:39 am

Here's what I like:

* It's an easy way to learn how GTD works. You can SEE thoughts getting processed into projects or next actions as you move left to right from one icon to the next. I am going to use it to teach GTD to my sister. My Life Organized (MLO) was another program I was considering but it's more abstract and complicated. I hope ThinkingRock retains its simplicity and this graphical orientation as new features are added.

* Able to be run off a flash drive (so I can ditch my PDA)

* PocketMod reports (so I can ditch my PDA)

* ical supported. Means I can keep TR info on a calendar on an ipod (so I can ditch my PDA)

* Jeremy and Claire seem like nice folks and consider our requests.

* TR is based in Austrailia. Is that cool or what!

* A forum with a friendly helpful atmosphere.

* Great Logo
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Postby Martie » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:24 am

I love the fact that I can see projects/subprojects/all actions (active and inactive) on the projects screen, and all *next actions* on their own with quick filtering options on the actions screen. The added option of topics with colours lets me see at a glance exactly where a next action comes from.

I also tried MLO, but I found it needed too much tweaking for the time I had at hand, and just didn't look as pretty :) . Then I tried the GTD Outlook add-in, which was fine but also needed tweaking to suit my needs. No time. Then I tried Franklin Covey's PlanPlus. What didn't crash my system killed my Outlook, although I believe most users don't have this problem. Their support is useless, though.

Then I tried Outlook on its own - oh boy, not something I would care to repeat. My 'trusted system' ... well ... just wasn't trusted, bcs there was always something I forgot to tweak in just the right way and it took ages to adapt the program to GTD.

Then there is the action of adding thoughts - I don't want complicated, I want to dump. Outlook Tasks had me thinking 'so under which project/category/, which context' etc., and if I didn't enter everything, I just never remembered to go back and add them. In that sense, TR is also perfect. Dump, then process later.

I wanted a system that would integrate well with Outlook, since I use the Outlook calendar and tasks, so when I first tried TR I wasn't really interested, but after much tweaking and swearing - here I am, and loving it! I now use ClearContext (nice program, wonderful support) to process my email, and TR for everything else. Simple, easy yet powerful. And I love the support!
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Postby Janice » Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:07 pm

Dan: Are you a Mac user? I'm not yet to the point of syncing and I hope you'll allow me to take advantage of your experience when the time comes.

Martie: Did you attempt the the GTD Outlook add-in or did you go it alone? As a Mac user, I'm curious as to how the add-in compared to ThinkingRock.

From my end, the finalists were ThinkingRock, Market Circle's Daylite and OrionBelt's EasyTaskManager.

Daylite is a beautiful CRM application, but creating the suggested GTD workflow for processing thoughts was cumbersome. And linking projects to tasks was downright frustrating. I also looked at EasyTaskManager that sports a GUI interface that Mac users know and love. But, ETM didn't provide sufficient depth to deal coherently with the variety and complexity of my projects. Plus, it was too damn much for me to look at on one page.

Last night I completed the initial phase of collecting and processing and began sifting through my projects. At the moment, life is good.
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Postby Martie » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:43 am

Janice, I did both. It is possible to use Outlook on its own, but not recommended.

The GTD add-in has in-built views which are very nice (you don't have to build your own). You basically use Tasks to set up actions, categories for the @ contexts, and you get additional columns: 'order the tasks by priority' and 'project'. The rest is up to Outlook. You set your reminders for tasks etc. I just found it difficult to get an overview of my projects and the tasks under various projects. There was also no way to quickly see under which project a task falls - e.g. if you looked at your list of 'next actions' for the various projects, you could see priority and schedule dates.

Being the GTD add-in, it was the program that came closest to implementing GTD (of course!) if you wanted everything through Outlook and it is easy to process email, enter thoughts etc. My problem with it was that I kept on tweaking bcs I wanted to see different things, esp. an easy way to see which task belonged under which project, and a 'big picture' overview. I also found the screens a bit cluttered (I have a thing about too much info on a screen - my brain goes into slow motion :? ) So for me TR won on interface (I give Topics colours, then I can see at a glance which action belongs where), and everything I mentioned in the previous post. I should add action scheduling - if I have a bunch of actions that should be performed sequentially, I order them, make the first one active, and TR does the rest.
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Postby DanTK » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:20 pm

Hi Janice,

I don't have an iPod yet though I plan to get one shortly. Here is a thread related to the topic of calendars and iPods: ... light=ipod

I use a PC right now however I am considering converting to a Mac in the future.
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I have to use Outlook . . .

Postby MiataPops » Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:06 pm

In my work, I am forced to use Outlook so I have the add-in to make that application more functional for GTD.

One of my frustrations with Outlook is the inability to list several next actions you want to take with projects. TR's ability to have inactive next actions fits that need perfectly.

So, Outlook's Tasks is where I keep my active next actions. I use TR for goals and projects (both personal and professional) where I list all of the possible next actions as "inactive." When I need to activate a next action, I e-mail it to myself where I use Outlook's Add-in to manage that next action along with all of the other "stuff" that comes into my inbox.
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Postby jmsaul » Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:58 pm

For me, these were the deciding factors:

1. It's cross-platform (I have Windows at work and a Mac at home)

2. It's dead simple

I looked at a lot of other options. They were all a lot more work. I don't want to write Wiki code for every action, I don't want elaborate project planning software like MS Project, I don't want to screw around -- I just want to be able to track projects and actions.

I've donated already, and I'll be happy to keep paying. This works. I've been telling other people about it too.

Note: I don't use TR for appointment scheduling (my workplace uses GroupWise for all of that, and I sync it with my Treo).
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Postby Janice » Wed Apr 04, 2007 6:09 pm

For the mac users considering Thinking Rock, I actually tried to leave this software for Ghost Action and/or Actiontastic...and failed miserably.

1. My hope was that I'd have an easier time syncing iCal. I did have an easier time syncing, however, it wasn't the sync I wanted. Only the to do items are synchronized and I prefer to have scheduled items synced. Scheduled items are, afterall, the only items that belong on the calendar according to GTD principles.

2. Finally, Thinking Rock isn't as easy on the eyes as is the typical Mac application. I wanted something prettier. But in the end, I chose function over good looks. I couldn't handle the limited ability to work with delegated/pending actions in Ghost Action and Actiontastic. It drove me crazy to classify these types of actions as contexts or projects. And I missed, almost desperately, Thinking Rock's Project section.
Last edited by Janice on Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Eddie » Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:34 am

Hi Janice,
The looks have improved, but definitely it does not have a Mac-like interface. On a positive note TR does have an amazing set of functions and for me it has been the GTD solution.
I’ve tried Actiontastic, iGTD, Inbox, and others out of curiosity, and always return to TR. Inbox does have a beautiful interface, but none of the apps helped me to Get Things Done.
One advantage for me is that TR is cross-platform. Even if OmniFocus eventually becomes a great GTD Mac app, I’ll probably keep using TR. :)
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Postby Janice » Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:42 pm

Eddie: I know exactly what you mean. I keep coming home to TR. I look forward to (financially) supporting 2.0.

Funny, I've never found Inbox (I'm assuming you're talking about Midnight Inbox), to be the beauty that most folks agree it is. For me, it looks bloated. In the design realm, I prefer the simplicity of Ghost Action or Actiontastic.

I am very curious to see the release of OmniFocus, they certainly are talking a good game. Yet, thus far, no one has been able to come close to TR re functionality and intuitive feel. And TR will seriously widen the gap with the release of 2.0.
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Postby Eddie » Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:59 pm

Yes Janice, I was referring to Midnight Inbox.

TR are certainly worthy of support. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked by the people who were donating $1, though :shock: :)

I agree that no one comes close in terms of functionality and feel. Have you tried Ready Set Do! ?
That one has a very interesting approach. It’s not for me, but I do like the idea. ... nal93.html

The size is pretty big, but that’s because it contains some movies if I remember correctly.

I’m looking forward to TR 2.0 :)
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For Me It Was ...

Postby tavish » Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:30 pm

I've tried out several different GTD apps, but nothing has manage to pull me away from TR. The deciding factors for me were:

-- Cross-platform. I work on a Mac at home and a PC at work.
-- Clean interface. It's easy to see what I need to see and ignore the rest. And the set-up just makes sense.
-- Portability. Again, I'm on two different computers. I simply installed TR on both and carry my XML file back and forth on my memory key.
-- Printing - I love that it prints in a PocketMod format.
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Location: Canada

Postby Janice » Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:12 pm

Eddie : I've downloaded Ready, Set, Do! But didn't have the patience to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do next. This leads to another reason why I chose Thinking Rock, I could begin collection immediately.
Curious, how long have you been a mac user? Have you put together any applescripts that facilitate the use of Thinking Rock?

Tavish : I couldn't agree with you more re the "it just makes sense." I hate the idea having to carve out time to figure out how to manage my time. To ensure I wasn't missing any subtleties, I did end up watching TR's instructional videos, but that was a week or two after I started working with the application.
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Postby Eddie » Sat Apr 07, 2007 3:23 am

The first Mac I used was an Apple IIe that belonged to a friend’s dad. IIRC we used to play Castle Wolfenstein and some sort of Olympics game :D

I’ve used Macs on a more regular basis for maybe 10 years or so. I have not used AppleScript that much, except for using scripts developed by others. I think there was a program for working with AppleScript named Smile that I tried years ago. Once I’m done with some other pending items I definitely want to learn AppleScript, but it’s probably going to be in late 2008.
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