Getting Things Done

I’ve always been a big fan of David Allen in his getting things done approach. The approach simply is about freeing your mind by writing down any thought or idea.

The approach

It suggests that you review those written ideas periodically, for example daily. If any idea can be done in 2 mins, then do it immediately. Otherwise, schedule it or delegate it to someone else. If an idea needs more than one step (phases), then it’s a project. If an idea doesn’t go under any of the above, then it’s under “Someday”.

You have to dedicate small time periodically to review your papers. If you’re using apps, they notify you of scheduled tasks of course.

(Reference: Getting Things Done – David Allen – Penguin Books – 2003)

While this approach can be achieved using any app (a pen and paper could do it), there are some apps that are setup out of box to do this. I highly recommend:

  • NirvanaHQ (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)
  • Things 3 (Mac, iOS)

Other apps that help in this with some modifications or tweaks:

  • Remember the Milk
  • Todoist
  • TickTick

The app itself doesn’t matter

Personally, I managed this approach through Apple Reminders by creating the following lists:

  • Inbox: For ideas.
  • Tasks: For tasks with date (or tasks to be flagged)
  • Someday: this is temporary as Apple is working on option to create smart lists. So, you can keep this section under the above list “tasks” and create smart list for tasks with no dates and not flagged.
  • List for each project if any.

So the GTD approach will be as following:

  • Focus (Today) – smart list
  • Inbox
  • Next Actions (Flagged) – smart list
  • Scheduled – smart list
  • Someday
  • Projects

(You can do the same in Microsoft To Do app too)


If you go though much of pressures and overwhelmed by tasks to be done, this approach helps a lot. Have you ever used it? What do you use to manage your life?

20 thoughts on “Getting Things Done”

  1. Life-long procrastinator of unpleasant tasks here. 🙂 I do make lists and refer to them frequently. Everything gets done eventually at home.
    However, when I worked for others, I created physical files in order of importance and completed everything on time.

    • Thanks, Morgaine. I myself was procrastinator too and took me long to reply back. Yes, things will be done eventually; but we’re trying to make it more pleasant. I used till recent time have physical files…

  2. I use Todoist. Being retired, I’m pretty lax about when things need to be done, but I like to have my projects organized and ready when it’s time to take that ‘first step.’ I am a productivity junkie. I’ve tried every app, and every time I try to fit my life into whatever structure they provide, I always seem to struggle. Todoist is flexible enough to allow me to organize my ‘stuff’ any way I please. It takes a bit of time to explore all that you can do with it, which is a lot, but to me it is well worth the annual fee.

    • Thank you very much, Linda, for this details. I’m sorry my friend for late reply. A post about organizing life and the author himself suffers from it 🙂
      You won’t go wrong with Todoist. I loved it but to be honest, I ran away from subscriptions unless forced…

  3. I use Google Calendar Tasks, Post-It notes, and for blogging ideas, I usually type some random thoughts into draft on WP. I used to be all about the tech until I (mostly) retired, like Linda here. But structure is how I got most of my work-life completed. Engineering necessitates it.

    • Thanks a lot, Eric. I apologize for late response. But yeah, despite being all about the tech, sometimes you just feel the need to go for simplicity. And you said, get most the work completed

  4. I love the getting things done methodology, and I use Trello to manage it. I really like the ethos of getting all those small bits and pieces together to reduce cognitive clutter

      • I find it works with the GTD methodology really well, and having it synched to your mobile app means you can easily put in ideas whenever they come to you. The free version is fine for the basic functions, you can have one ‘power-up’ at a time – I would recommend the ability to automatically repeat cards.

      • Thanks a lot for the detailed information. Highly appreciated. For sure, I’ll try it soon considering your recommendation too. It’s eye candy and this one of the main reason I always had it on my wish list

  5. Great ideas, Mohamad. I’ve been a pen and paper girl, however, that’s been because I don’t have a lot of tasks per se, and memory seems to suffice. I do, though, send myself emails as reminders and use the calendar on my smart phone for appointments, etc.
    Technology, I’ve found, can be a great help and sometimes a little invasive. We are fortunate, though, to have so many options!

    • Thanks a lot Carolyn. My apologies for delay in replying back. I like your method; the most important thing is getting things done regardless of the method or technology. I always enjoy reading your inputs

  6. Amazing article. I am a big fan of planning everything, but I don”t beat myself up if I didn”t reach the deadline. I only plan couple of days forward, and I rewrite my goals daily.

    • Thanks a lot, Maja, for your kind words. I like it when I feed that I did good post. I’m sorry too for late response. Yes, concentrating on reaching the deadlines and doing tasks shouldn’t affect the importance of concentrating on our goals first. Thanks you for reminding us about this important point

  7. Thanks a lot, wonderful post. I read once that one might waste a lot of time searching for the right app to do thing more than doing the things!

  8. I use Google Keep to keep lists. I’m not a very organized person but am working on improving that. Most of my brain dump ideas end up on the notepad on my phone. 😂


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