Getting Things Done

This is a book and methodology that I've used in cycles for the past 10 years. When I'm using it I feel damn near superhuman. When I'm not my productivity suffers for it. Not just with work, but with all the small things I need to do in life like calling people back, cancelling gym memberships, etc.

So while I know the methods well enough, taking notes here will serve as a good reference for myself for my own implementation. GTD can be used with an app like Todoist, a notebook, or just loose sheets of paper. While I'll be using Todoist, it's not about any one app, but about a "lifestyle" or a "mindset" or whatever.

I used to use Evernote, and it was good for that, but my god that app has gotten so bloated it's unusable. These days I use Bear to capture all my writings and it usually gets a good amount of my todo's too. I want to keep all of those in Todoist now.

I'm reading the GTD book in order to keep it all fresh in my brain, and I plan on reading it over several times until it really starts to stick.

Let's get into how to use GTD and Todoist.

GTD x Todoist

(I've already moved away from Todoist but haven't had a chance to update this. I've moved over to Things 3 because it seems to be more tailored to GTD.)

Setup Todoist

There's a bit of up front work to setting up Todoist. I'm referencing this blog post for this part.

Areas & Projects

GTD distinguishes between Areas and Projects.

A Project is a “a series of tasks linked to a goal, with a deadline.” Any objective that requires more than one action is automatically a Project. This can get kind of insane with this setup, so I think I'll nest more frequently here, rather than creating a ton of projects at the root directory.

An Area is “a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time.”


GTD recommends filters by Time, Context, Energy, and Priority. Doug von Kohorn has an interesting take on the priority filter:

Anything higher than Priority 3 means I’ve selected the task for today.

I like this and might implement it. Meaning 1's and 2's are today's tasks. 3's and 4's have a lower priority.

Steps of GTD

Now let's get into the 5 steps of GTD. I'm working off of this video.

1. Capture

Capturing everything you need to do is a big part of the GTD method, and with plugins and email forwards, Todoist makes it easy to accomplish this.

Rather than letting things sit in my email inbox that need to get done, I can forward them to my special Todoist email address.

I have Todoist on my Apple Watch, my phone, as a native Mac app, the Chome Plugin, and of course the Web version. This might seem like overkill but I think this kind of integration is so helpful for reducing friction in your inbox.

2. Clarify

Step 2 of the GTD Process is where you clarify the tasks you're working on.

Here's where you break tasks up into Sub-Tasks. The idea of breaking up big tasks into small sub-tasks was revolutionary for me. Nothing is too daunting if you break it up small enough.

With Todoist you can add subtasks, comments, dates, links and a whole lot more.

3. Organize

This is the part where we start to add tags and labels to the tasks. We give it a priority, say how long it will take, put it into a category or project, the type of task (intense/low energy), and the location.

4. Reflect

20-30 minutes of time to review current and upcoming tasks.

Todoist Karma can be useful here to get a good sense of how you're doing with hitting your tasks. I can change the number of tasks I complete each day.

5. Engage

Now we get the tasks done. Choosing a "high energy" task for the morning and "low energy" for the night is a good idea.

Eisenhower Matrix

This isn't part of the regular GTD orthodoxy as far as I know. I originally learned it from James Clear and then saw that Doug von Kohorn set up a filter to create the matrix for him in Todoist, so I'm going to give a shot to implementing and using this to choose what's next.

The filter is:

@urgent & @important & p3, @urgent & !@important & p3, @important & !@urgent & p3, !@urgent & !@important & p3

Questions I Have

This is just a spot to put some things I haven't figured out yet.


I used to put all my habits into Todoist but it started to feel like the actual "tasks" would get lost in the clutter of "Journal" "Meditate" "Read" "Write" etc.

But on the other hand, I feel like I need to include them somewhere and I really dislike having 10 different systems. One system to rule them all feels like the way to go, but is it feasible?