GTD: Keep Things Consistent

I have found “keeping the flow going” is a real important part of maintaining a GTD process.

Knowing I had some great, accessible tools was fine, but I had another problem that slowed me down. This problem was that I used two different methods to get to the tools.

Tools I Was Using

At Home

At home I was using the (pretty damn good) Start++ from Brandon Tools. Now, I have been using this tool for a while at home (pretty much since I upgraded to Windows Vista) and been more than happy with it.

At Work

Since I use XP at work, I could not run Start++ so instead run Launchy. Again, this is a fantastic bit of kit. It looks nice, and has really started coming on well. There are also some great plugins available for it.

The Problems

  • Key Combinations
    • Start++ works with the Vista start menu, so to bring it up, I just press the WIN key.
    • Launchy binds to a key combination (I think it defaults to CTRL+Space, but could be wrong). I have it bound to WIN+ESC.
    • The different keys would get annoying, I often found myself at home smashing CTRL+ESC and wondering what the hell was going on.
  • Saved Settings
    • Start++ saves all of it settings in an XML file (I believe).
    • Launchy saves it settings within an INI file.
    • Every time I wanted to add a shortcut to a link etc, I would need to create twice, once at home, once at work.

What I Decided

In order for me to continue streamlining my work, I HAD to get rid of one of these. The main issue was not really the interface, but the hassle of needing to maintain two (pretty large) links collections in two different applications.

I therefore decided one had to go. Sadly, because I have to use XP at work, it had to be Start++ to leave. I am sorry Start++ you served me well.


Although it sucked letting go of Start++, I am now MUCH more productive when launching applications/sites/whatever. My Launchy settings file is now synched between work and home, so whenever I change one, the other is updated. This means I no longer need to maintain two locations. The UI consistency is helping with the minor things such as hitting the right keys and looking in the right place.


Local Applications

In order to take applications installed locally (and normally in a different folder to the other location), I simply added a common path to both computers for the shortcuts to the applications in question (in my case I went for “C:\Launchy Shortcuts” how original huh? :D

This means I now have the exact same access route to all of my tools (both online and offline) when at work and home.

Business Applications

We all have business applications that we must use and either can’t don’t want to use outside of work. For example, I use Google Mail for all my mail, so I have no real need for Outlook. In cases where you must use business applications, ensure you push it to your accessible application as well – even if it is a one-liner saying “Read email from John sent xx/xx/xxxx in the Project folder in Outlook”. Keeping these notes still gets it out of your head, but keeps the item linked with your GTD process. If you need to have a printed copy, then download CutePDF or something and attach it to a mail and send it to your GMail (or whatever) inbox.

The idea here is to keep everything consistent. Some things may need to stray from the process (such as software requirements) but it doesn’t mean YOU should stray!


Keep the way you access your applications consistent. It’s important. Keep your brain doing the same process over and over and it will get quicker at it.

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