Nirvana. My Review of a slick looking new GTD app

I have to start by saying that Nirvana is in Beta, so updates may fix some of my issues…But here it goes…

Recently I ran across an article on my favourite site, LifeHacker...They mentioned a new Getting Things Done site running a Beta called Nirvana. Being a big fan of the 90′s, and loving Nirvana, I thought, hell, why not give it a try.
So, off I went to the site and requested an invite using the LifeHacker invite code. Once I got the invite(it took only a few minutes), I logged in. The first thing I noticed was the e-mail style layout. If there was one thing I liked about my brief Gmail-GTD experiment, was it’s e-mail familiarity. There are a few different style setting in the preferences. I went with the Mac looking one(of course, lol). Here is a screen shot of the interface…

In comparison to Nozbe(my main GTD app), the interface is beautiful. Nirvana is very Web 2.0. Your action items(tasks) are drag and drop. You can select multiple items and move them with ease. This is assuming you aren’t using IE8(I use it at work…). Nirvana has implemented keyboard shortcuts much like Nozbe, so it is easy to navigate around, create new projects, new tasks, etc…with the press of a button. The overall desktop app experience is there for sure. In fact, if you use on the Mac, Nirvana will feel almost second nature to you. Sweet.

On to the nuts and bolts…
There are a few interface things that drive me nuts though. Once you have completed a task, the item grays out, which is great, but it stays in your project or Inbox FOREVER, unless you manually move them to the Archive. A pain in the ass…Yes, you can go to the top of the page and select “Archive Checked Items”, but why bother. The point of a list is to complete it and get it out of your sight. Nirvana, you need this to be automatic, or at least sweep it everyday, ala Nozbe…
Another bone to pick, is their implementation of the Next list. IMO, your Next item list should be everything you need to do Today(filled in from you scheduled items) as well as your next action on your projects. Nirvana is working on this after getting tons of feedback from beta testers. Currently everything labelled with a Star, moves it to today, not Next. You may have an important task that you wish to label but it may not necessarily be due today.
You can choose to hide your projects and/or today from Next, but if you select your projects to show, it shows all your action items, not the next one to be done. What is the point? I think they understand that this currently is not working, so a fix is in the works. Good job! I love when developers listen to feedback, interact with the community, and keep everyone up to date on updates!
On to the way Nirvana does their Waiting for and Schedule. In one word, fantastic! Waiting for has a great assign feature. When you move a task to this list, a screen pops up to assign a name to it. You can even attach an e-mail address, so when you do your weekly reviews, if the item hasn’t been dealt with by the person, you can click the link and a new email is created with the task title as the subject line. Very nice.
One thing I really like, is the ability to create a due date on a task and move it to Scheduled. If it was in your Inbox, it is moved to the list. Out of sight until the due date. This solves the problem in Nozbe where you have an individual task you need to accomplish, but want to move it out of your inbox, and don’t want to assign it to a project. If you have a task in your projects and drag it to your Scheduled, it stays in your project but flags the item with a due date tag. This helps keep all your tasks of a project at hand to review.
Contexts…I am quite disappointed with them so far in the beta. You can add them to a task(Nirvana calls them tags, much like Twitter), and they will show up at the top of that particular list.

The problem lies that unless you have the tag cloud activated in your preferences, you have no way of sorting your tasks by context! This is one of the key strategies of GTD…If I am at the phone ready to call someone, I want easy access to the @phone context. Not to hunt around throughout my various projects, and inbox to see all the people I need to call. The tag cloud needs to be more fleshed out. A bigger aspect of the UI. I would really like to see them have the ability to drag a task to a context to tag it, though the developer mentioned to me that this was not currently in the works.

The last thing that Nirvana needs to work on(and badly), is the mobile app. They haven’t got an iPhone app like Nozbe or Remember the Milk yet, so they have written a mobile version of the site that runs in Safari. One good thing to say about the look, is that it looks a lot like the desktop. Very nice. Simple. But there are problems brewing…Where the hell are all the contexts? Again, not a major focus in the beta. On the home page of the mobile app, that don’t have a sort by context selection. Bad. Take a lesson from Nozbe and link all the contexts/tags to the home page. When I am out and about, I need my GTD context to be easy to access. Until this is fixed, this is a deal breaker for me…

Nirvana is beautiful and does some things extremely well(waiting for & scheduled to name a couple). They need to work on auto-hiding completed tasks, contexts all around, and Next for sure. I am going to keep my eye on it over the next few months to see how some of the bugs and interface quirks are handled. I especially will keep the mobile app in my radar. It needs work but has potential…

The beta is free for you to try out. Nirvana haven’t set up a pricing structure yet after the beta ends, and once I find out, I’ll update the blog with information.

Let me know what you think of Nirvana! What have you liked, disliked, want added? And of course, Nirvana has very active developers that listen to your feedback. Go ahead and use Nirvana, go to their public discussions section and be part of the beta community! They are looking for feedback.


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2 thoughts on “Nirvana. My Review of a slick looking new GTD app

  1. Dan says:

    For implementing GTD you can use this web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Comes with a mobile version too, and with an Android app.

  2. I have tried it out. I like the general page layout and a few very GTD things like turning on “Minimum One Next Action per Project”. Very nice.
    I really like the checklists for repetitive tasks.
    Entering tasks is a bit clunky though, and adding ‘due tomorrow’ in a task description should be handled appropriately.
    As a full featured free option it would be fine, however it looks a bit outdated(UI improvements coming?)and without smart tagging I wouldn’t be forking out for a monthly plan…
    There is something to be said when an app looks like it is at the end of a life cycle. It may not be the case at all, but the web experience needs some work or active development…

    As well, you have mentioned GTDagenda 3 times on my blog without adding any commentary on the topics at hand, or where your product adds to the discussion any more than “use my app”. Blog Spam. You are welcome to comment on the site, but not simply to promote your GTD solution. I am not interested in doing your advertising for you…

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