6 Best Free ‘Getting Things Done’ Software

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If you’re in project management (or in any other leadership field), you’ve probably read David Allen’s masterpiece, Getting Things Done.

If not, the system that David Allen suggests is quite simple:

  1. Write down everything you need to do. Absolutely everything. No idea is bad.
  2. Decide whether or not a task is actionable. If it isn’t, throw it in the trash. If it is but you can’t do it right away, put it in a low-priority folder. If you just want the idea for reference, put it in a reference folder.
  3. If the task is actionable and takes less than two minutes to act on, do it immediately (like texting someone about dinner plans).
  4. If the task will take longer than that, plan out the steps needed to act on that idea.
  5. From there, organize where it falls on your priority list, schedule it, or delegate it.

David Allen has a list of software tools that he recommends on his website. While some of the options are good others are less useful.

After reading Getting Things Done, I distilled which project management software would be best for applying David Allen’s method. Best of all, all of these GTD software options are entirely free for one user! Read on to learn which of these six Getting Things Done software options is best for you.

This article looks at six highly rated free “getting things done” software options. See the full list of free project management software solutions here.

1. hiTask

hitask

hiTask’s free personal task management software is among the best. The software offers plenty of features—calendar, grouping, tasks, and subtasks, to name a few—yet is able to organize all of it onto one screen, so you don’t need to jump around different folders looking for your next to-do. It’s organized, efficient, and they offer 100MB of free file storage. They also offer Android and iPhone apps that are fully SSL/HTTPS encrypted, and have an open API. If you’re looking for a super-easy GTD software option, definitely check hiTask out.

2. Nirvana

Nirvana_App

Those of you who are Mac enthusiasts will enjoy Nirvana’s straightforward approach to GTD. The software was created specifically for Getting Things Done, so it’s out-of-the-box fully functional, with no extra bells and whistles.

The app comes preloaded with features to designate how long a task will take (make sure it’s over two minutes!), how much energy you’ll need for it, and when it’s due, along with tags for organization. It also makes it easy to schedule a weekly review, so you’re never caught wondering “what’s next.”

3. Remember the Milk

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When you first register for Remember the Milk, you might be immediately put off by their default folders, which are inbox, personal, study, work, and sent. It looks like a basic student planner.

Fortunately, there’s a whole lot more for GTD enthusiasts in this free task management software option.

I won’t rehash how Remember the Milk recommends how you use its software for Getting Things Done in totality, but I will give the basic points:

  • Easily create a weekly review
  • Use tags to create contexts
  • Flexible labels and folders for work, personal, and tasks on hold
  • Unintrusive reminder system

The only hesitation about Remember the Milk is that the program, unlike the others on this list, has a bit of a learning curve; I wouldn’t recommend this program to people who are uncomfortable learning code that’s slightly easier than HTML (not that bad, right?).

4. Todoist

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In complete contrast, Todoist is as straightforward as it gets for Getting Things Done software. It’s been a trusted standard in task management software for years now, and the company has taken great care to make it accessible to everyone.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start a new Todoist account is that you have project, labels, filters, a weekly overview, and tasks due today. Since most people using GTD software will be juggling hundreds of tasks at a time, the filter tool is particularly valuable.

The major drawback to Todoist is that the reminder system is only for premium (meaning paid) users. This means that free Todoist users must be diligent about checking their inbox for upcoming tasks due.

5. Wrike

Wrike

Wrike, for GTD software, is amazing. I say this with full confidence because the above screenshot is from my own computer. That’s right. Wrike is my personal Getting Things Done software of choice.

Wrike, like Todoist, allows users to create folders and tasks. It also allows users to label their tasks, attach files, and schedule deadlines and recurrent tasks. Wrike also gives users the option to receive daily or weekly rundowns of all the things slated for the day–it’s a nice wake up email that I look forward to in the morning.

The only bummer about Wrike is that the premium version has so many added features that it’s hard not to want them; they include time tracking, reports, and workload assessments.

6. Zendone

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Don’t just love Zendone’s for its unlimited actions. Don’t just love its unlimited projects, secure SSL connection, free mobile app, GTD tutorial, or even its template to follow the Getting Things Done funnel for all of your tasks.

Love it for its integrations.

Free users get Evernote and Google Calendar integrations (30 notes and events a month, respectively). This means if you’re in a lurch for finding a good and free Getting Things Done software option that’s particularly good for research, this is your product.

More?

Finding the right Getting Things Done software can be a challenge. All of these options allow users to do a weekly review, filter through their tasks by priority and due date, and establish the groundwork for contexts and next steps.
Is there a solid free Getting Things Done software option that I missed? Have you had positive experiences with these? Let me know in the comments below!

Like all things related to productivity? Check out these related articles…

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Rachel Burger

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Rachel is a former Capterra analyst who covered project management.

Comments

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Should mention that Wrike paid version does not sell a single user license, but requires a minimum of 5 users, and is $600 per year to use.

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FYI, the free version of Nirvana only allows you to have five projects. That’s not going to be enough for most people, especially since I don’t see a way to work around the issue by creating tasks with subtasks. I guess you could try to do something with labels?

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FYI Zendone appears no longer to be free – it’s a 14 day free download, after which a monthly subscription. Thanks for the suggestions.

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https://momentum.earth is an app with a simple design. review, due date, contexts and next steps are possible. It’s implementing some new technologies and currently in beta but definitely worth trying.

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Rachel, this review is very helpful. A GTD system sounds exactly like what I need! I’ve started off by trying Zendone, and the problems I’ve been encountering are so strange that I wonder if the company is still alive. I’ve contacted support and also tried to find a user community to get my questions answered but no response from support (not surprising) and the user community page is gone (huh???).

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Hi, thanks for your list. I would definitely include Tracks. It’s biggest advantage is that it’s completely free with no restrictions at all, whereas all the other free GTD software is usually restricted so that you’re motivated to upgrade to premium.

Tracks is also tailored for GTD.

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Get It Done (https://getitdoneapp.com) is one of the original GTD apps. It has been around for about 10 years!

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Zendone and Wrike are not free apps, they don’t offer a free service, except that Zendone has a free 14-day trial. I have tested it and I find it to be very good. There are some issues with the responsiveness of the android app, but in general it works fine. The GTD workflow is excellent, along with the almost mandatory use of an Evernote integration and Evernote widget in the notification part of the android phone.

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Zendone no longer offers a free option, just a free trial. This was announced July 16, 2016.

https://community.zendone.com/t/official-launch-of-zendone-2-0/7074

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I use Jello Dashboard which integrates with Outlook. Works fine for me!

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doit.im is also a good GTD system, the premium version is not so expensive and it has a nice and stable ios/Android App. I’ll give the software you mentioned a try.

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I find Workflowy to be by far the best system. Simple, intuitive and built around the insight that all tasks can be recursively atomized.

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I appreciate the information in this post, particularly the Zendone section. It was great to read your overview and it’s helped me think about what I need in the system.

Thanks

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Thanks Paul! I’m super familiar with Trello and Asana (haven’t looked into Pyrus yet). Kanban is really way too “bulky” a system for GTD, especially when you’re trying to manage 100s of tasks, so I didn’t think Trello would be a good fit (though I do otherwise like their system, along with Asana). Asana’s strength is in collaboration above all else–I’d rather direct people to them who have teams than for individuals.

Thank you for your feedback!

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Nice post, Rachel. Are all those solutions use the GTD concept? Most of them are project management software rather than task planning and tracking. What about Trello, Asana, Pyrus? They are definitely worth a review. Do you plan to test them as well?

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