Whenever I try and implement GTD using Remember The Milk, I end up with over a hundred items in my Next Actions list and quite a few items in my Projects list. It eventually becomes unsustainable. Yes, I should probably be doing more weekly reviews, but it would help to have something built into the app to help me work through those reviews, to help manage/prioritize a lot of todo items. Here are my thoughts:

1) Semi-Automated Priority Sorting

The TODO app could implement a sorting algorithm where the "custom comparator" (to borrow a programming term) is a prompt to the user. It would repeatedly ask me to compare the priority of two given items, and use the answers to sort the list. It could be done all at once, or in a heap (priority queue) structure. The goal would be to be able to open the application in a busy moment, answer a few this-or-that questions to get the heap sort up to date, and "magically" have the first item in the list be something worth working on without requiring too much open-ended thinking. Obviously priority is a more complex concept than this, but I think it would still have practical value, and there are probably alterations that could be made.

2) Help With Categorizing Items According to (User-Defined?) Tagging Rules

As suggested in GTD, some things can have different contexts, like "work", "home", "near a printer", etc. But tagging all my hundreds of items with these and other organizational tags can be daunting. It would be helpful to be able to define (or, less powerfully, have predefined) tagging/organizational rules that every item must conform to. For example, I could define a new rule that says every item must have the context of either "home" or "work". Or a rule that says every item must be tagged with a corresponding project. Or a rule that says every item with a "read-it-later" tag must also be tagged according to a media type of "article", "book", "video", etc. Similarly to #1, there would be a prompt that would present to me any items missing tags to help me step through and tag things without having to think too much. Perhaps it could even use machine learning to suggest tags. These ideas have all come from my unsuccessful attempts to corral my next actions and someday maybe lists.

Remember the Milk is very powerful/flexible, and I can do some of these things with it manually, but I'm looking for something more structured to help reduce the cognitive load, especially wrt the priority sorting. Are there any applications out there that include these concepts of 1) semi-automated priority sorting or 2) structured workflow for organizing/categorizing/tagging items (preferably with user-defined rules)?

I've heard David Allen talk about making your workflow as much like "making widgets" as possible, reducing your cognitive load, but I haven't seen many TODO list apps apply this concept to organizing your todo items once you capture them. They all seem to leave it up to you, which leaves the user with a lot of thinking to do. Perhaps this is just because most of my GTD attempts have been in RTM, but it seems like there is room out there for some wizard-like tools that handle the structure/workflow part of the daily GTD processing flow, while relying on the user for the details. Somewhat like the visitor pattern in software engineering, if I'm not confused about what the visitor pattern is.

1 Answer 1


As there is no information on platform nor on UI preferences one can only speculate.

Would you e.g. prefer quite an elaborate solution with a very nice GUI, which could even be used for managing projects of a whole group, and don't mind that at the same time it is limited to MS Windows (standalone application)? Then you definitely want to have a look at AbstractSpoon's (https://www.abstractspoon.com/) todolist (http://abstractspoon.pbwiki.com/f/todolist_exe.zip)

You can sort your tasks according to multiple criteria and group your tasks according to categories, tags, projects, filter the view still other criteria... So it provides rich functionality.

If the automatic priority management is of utmost importance, you would rather like to look at task warrior (https://taskwarrior.org/), which is however a command line program and may look intimidating at first contact.

Is your preference on a standalone program with GUI that is available on different platforms (Windows, Linux) you might consider taskcoach (http://taskcoach.org/).

None of the above does have snychronisation features across multiple devices however. If this is important to you, you may prefer one of the multiple Web-Services.

If further criteria are to be considered, even different ones my be far better choices.

So you might try to define your requirements in a more detailed manner 1st.

  • Thanks, but I've used two of these tools and browsed the documentation of the third, and none of them seem to support either of the 2 features I mentioned.
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 19:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.