When should I change my task management system?

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by know I am a GTD’er. GTD is a productivity methodology and it is the foundation of my productivity system. But you don’t have to be a GTD’er to manage your tasks and commitments.

Earlier this year, I counted over 100 task management tools available. Selecting the tool that works for you can sometimes be a hair-raising endeavour. And having to set one up can be plain daunting!

In this blog post, I talk about the two triggers that tell me when it’s time to examine the plethora of task management tools out there, and invest in making the switch.

Why switch?

In the 14 years I have been a GTD’er I have ported my entire system four times. I started in My Life Organised (MLO), moved to PalmOS, moved to Lotus Notes eProductivity and now I have a custom-built Evernote implementation.

Each one of those ports was a result of one of two reasons:


(a) the system was no longer working. For example, when I no longer had access to Lotus Notes for my eProductivity list manager, I simply had to find a different solution. I still miss eProductivity!


(b) I was simply no longer attracted to the system. Typically this starts when I have too many workarounds or intermediate sync systems. This was the case with MLO and Palm.

When to switch?

The first case is really a no-brainer. If the system you have been using is no longer available, you’ve got to find something else if you want to keep managing your tasks. Of course, there is always the paper option and I think if all else fails, it’s a great place to go because it gets you back to the ABCs of task management without having to unlearn and learn software clicks.

But the key indicator for me to switch my list manager is when I am no longer attracted to, or trusting, my system.

The minute that happens, it’s stop the presses!
If the system that helps me be several times more efficient and effective isn’t attracting me … or I am not trusting it … this is no longer a negotiation. The minute I notice this, I create the space to find and setup the system that works. I would rather invest in getting my productivity back up, than fight to keep up with a tool that clearly does not serve my needs.

So it’s really quite simple. You switch your system when the maintenance time expense of the new system is greater than the productivity gain of a new system.

That check might also help you stay away from playing with new shiny software. Ask yourself, “Is the time I spend playing with this software going to be recouped in productivity gains later?” If not, drop it on your Someday?Maybe list “Software to try out one day” and wait for a time when the answer to that question is Yes.

Are you attracted to your task management software?



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