Implementing Getting Things Done with your Blackberry

Implementing Getting Things Done (GTD) with your Blackberry is not as straight forward as you might think. On a Blackberry Version prior 4.0 you do not even have Category support which is essential for the system.

The most frequently mentioned shortcoming on implementing GTD using the internal Blackberry applications:

  • All Blackberry applications have global categories. That means you will see your contact-, calendar- and notes categories in the task application as well.

  • To add new tasks you have to select the category each time. They are not automatically applied to the current category.

  • To change a category you have to apply a filter. A simple category change is not possible.

  • Many GTD enthusiasts make use of the “@” syntax for contexts. However, items “@” are not sorted correctly.

Gary K. Slinger wrote a great article which mentions these problems too and makes suggestions on workarounds. For more details take a look at his blog

There are a lot of methods and tools helping you to implement GTD on your desktop, but GTD third-party software for the Blackberry is very rare. The following applications intend to replace the internal task application:

Although “todoMatrix” has very advanced features, I did not try it because it synchronizes to a proprietary online database. “TaskPad Pro” has a similar approach. The application “NextAction!” is not as feature-rich but specifically targets the “Getting Things Done”-approach. It uses the internal Task Database of the Blackberry and is therefore highly compatible with other applications. It targets the major shortcomings mentioned above and uses the GTD terminology.

“NextAction!” do not provide many additional features but makes the task input and management much faster and allows a very good GTD implementation.

My GTD workflow using a Blackberry 7290 with “NextAction!”

According to David Allen the five stages of mastering workflow are: collect, process, organize, review and do.


Productivity Recommendations
  • I put calendar commitments and contact details directly into the contacts/calendar application. If I am in a hurry I quickly add a new item to the INBOX in “NextAction!” to process it later.

  • Tasks/todos/ideas are usually going to the INBOX of “NextAction!” , to process them later. Only when I already know the exact next action, I put them directly in the relevant category.


  • Process the mail inbox
    Do it. / Delegate it. / Defer it.

  • Process the “NextAction!” inbox
    Do it. / Delegate it. / Defer it.

    If I have to defer the item, I generate a next action in the specific context in “NextAction!” or add a calendar appointment.


The “organize”-stage is not really implementation-specific. To get the details I would recommence to read the related chapter in the book “Getting Things Done” from David Allen.


My daily review:

  • Check my calendar
  • Check my actions lists according to the context I am in

Every few days:

  • Check my projects list
  • Check my waiting for list
  • Check my someday/maybe list

And of course once a week I am doing a full review (see weekly review).


David Allen suggests doing next actions using these four criteria:

  1. Context

  2. Time available

  3. Energy available

  4. Priority

For “context” I just open the relevant context list in “NextAction!” and I will see the relevant items that have to be done.

to be continued…

64 thoughts on “Implementing Getting Things Done with your Blackberry

  1. Try Viira for the BB. I’m using it now for a few weeks after i user Nextaction first. It works better for me!

  2. You should definitely give Pocket Informant for BlackBerry from WebIS a try. You can easily set contexts, and it synchs with the internal databases. Best solution I have found yet!

  3. I tried NextAction on new Storm. Was a horrible failure. The display layout is almost unusable b/c the pull down lists/buttons eat up too much space above the keyboard. Buttons and fields wind up offset w/ lots of lost space. End result is you can only view one field at a time (e.g. context, project) when entering a new task. Entering took so much effort and time, I could not always capture the thought of a task before interrupted by new task.

    Honestly, if a GTD tool takes more than 2 minutes to capture a new task or project, then it is a project of its own (and not even a “Someday/Maybe” in my view.)

  4. Try Role Call Tasks, which is available from the BlackBerry AppWorld. Fantastic program. Works very well with Categories, easy to add new tasks with the date and category already assigned, and works with the native tasks app so it syncs with Exchange.

    Not sure how this applies to the GTD method, but it can optionally be set to automatically move uncompleted tasks forward to today while still indicating the original date it should have been done.

    Easy entry, with categories and date, has made this a must have for me, and has increased my organization and productivity immensely.

  5. I use Outlook as my primary GTD tool having set it up using the “setting up outlook paper” available on the Davidco website.

    I use Role Call Tasks on my BB. Role Call works with the native BB task app which means I can sync my BB normally with Outlook. As a tip I have set up my Contexts with A- rather than @. eg A-HOME, A-WAITING FOR. This means my BB will sort the contexts which it won’t do if you use @. I have have named the Project Category .PROJECT which brings it to the top of the Category list in both Outlook and Role Call Tasks.

    I have downloaded the free version of Vlingo which I use to put tasks into the BB by voice while I am driving. It is Bluetooth compatible but you still have to press a button so its not perfect. I can’t categorise the tasks entered by voice but when I hit the office or handson time with the BB the uncategorised tasks sit at the top of the category list in both Outlook and Role Call Task. It is a small part of my daily collection routine to Edit and Categorise. The important point is that those thoughts on the road get into the system.

    As an aside I use two project categories, .PROJECT for personal projects where I will be responsible for undertaking most of the tasks, and .ONENOTE for projects I am cordinating but where there are 5-6 other people doing most of the actions. As the name suggests I run these projects in OneNote where I collect and organize project support material and raise tasks directly from ONENOTE pages which automatically link to my Outlook system for when I am “Getting Things Done”.

    Hope this is useful.

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