The GTD Approach to Linking Next Actions and Projects

Instead of storing that information in different places, the GTD method helps you input and organize it into one tool such as a work management tool. Asana brings the GTD method to life by organizing your work and reducing your mental strain so you can complete your high-impact work on time. Don’t hesitate to modify the system to suit your unique needs and preferences. Whether adjusting the specific lists or categories, changing how you organize your tasks, or integrating other time-management techniques, finding what works best for you is essential for success.

gtd project management

Furthermore, the Zeigarnik effect explains how our brains are wired to remember unfinished tasks and continually draw our attention to them. Once we create a plan to complete the tasks, the signals stop because we know exactly what to do. By establishing the next actions for every task, you create an implementation intention or if-then planning, which allows you to act decisively and efficiently in any situation. You eliminate time wasted on indecision, as you know the necessary steps to reach your desired outcome. As Allen aptly states in his book, “The key to getting things done is defining what done means, what doing looks like, and where it happens.” These are items that have been delegated or are awaiting action by someone else.

Examples of actions and their contexts

Filter for actions you can sensibly take with the time and energy available to you. Tags provide context for what’s practical wherever you are, both physically and mentally. Find clarity in your day while keeping an eye on the future.

gtd project management

The first step is simply getting your stuff out of your brain and into an external source. Capturing is the first step towards organizing your to-dos into a better productivity system. Every day, you will need to review your Calendar and Next Actions list organized by contexts. Today, for most of us, there are no clear boundaries between the actions and projects we need to carry out, both in the professional and personal spheres. We have a growing number of internal and external commitments, and we need new methods, technologies and work habits to deal with them efficiently.


It assigns individual items to specific categories based on how much they contribute to the total value. This makes it easy to determine which items are very important and should be prioritized (category A) and which only contribute a small amount to the total value (category C). If you aren’t sure where to get started, run through the four Engagement considerations before getting started. Then, select the task that’s most appropriate for your current situation. The Reflect step can be a slippery slope—the last thing you want is to constantly be checking your Inbox, since that cuts into potential focus time. Asana is a work management system that organizes work so your team knows what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done.

gtd project management

For example, instead of writing Call Mel, you’d need to write Schedule call with Mel on Thursday to discuss project budget. The weekly review is a powerful productivity ritual regardless of whether you GTD or not, so we wrote a standalone guide for how to run your weekly review. It’s what is gtd tempting to go overboard and start creating labels for everything — resist the temptation. For your GTD system to work, you need to build a habit of adding the correct labels to each and every task. The fewer labels you have to choose from, the easier it will be to remember.

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Allen doesn’t even make a case for digital over analog systems. Rather, the key to any lasting productivity system is to keep it as simple as possible and to use it as often as possible. Your tool should be versatile enough to handle your most complex projects yet simple enough to maintain when you’re low on energy. Then, do a more thorough weekly review of the work you completed in the past few days and the tasks that are upcoming next week. Ensure nothing has fallen through the cracks, and clarify priorities if necessary so you start the next week ready to go. During the Organize step, move items into the appropriate projects in your work management tool.

  • This is a view of all of the work you need to complete.
  • Feeling swamped leads to a growing list of unfinished work, causing stress to pile up.
  • Rather it might be to send an email asking about their availability on Thursday.
  • This is how we establish the fact that Wrike helps you in saving 30 minutes per day while reducing the stress of your workload and increasing your productivity.

Your system is now full of concrete, actionable items organized into logical categories, ready for you to jump in. You’ll see that all of the labels, projects, and due dates added in the steps above help you quickly answer the question “What should I be doing right now? A get things done (GTD) template can take many forms. Various apps for list-making, project management, note-taking, and day planning can work hand-in-hand with a GTD approach to productivity. With your project lists and tasks sorted, you’re now ready to tackle contexts.

One-off tasks

Creating an ebook takes many steps and involves many stakeholders. So during the Clarify step, break that initiative out into several, separate tasks. Create a task for “Outline ebook,” a task for “Review outline,” a task for “Draft ebook,” etc. If you’re trying to improve personal productivity, consider using a to-do list to track your work. Alternatively, if you work with a team, try a work management platform to not only capture and track your own work, but to organize and manage your team’s work as well.

gtd project management

Your mind can truly relax when it’s time to rest and can focus better on the tasks at hand because nothing else will be running through the back of your mind. Sorting next actions by context, not by project, can initially seem awkward. Some people are used to having multiple files, piles, notepads, documents, and spreadsheets related to a project, with next actions for the project buried amongst all of that information. The time spent clarifying and organizing your tasks means that when it’s time to engage with work, you have fewer choices to make and fewer reference materials to find. To decide what to do next, you can see upcoming tasks with due dates, sort tasks by label, or create filters to see your next actions based on context.

Step 1. Capture

In this article, we will explore the fundamental principles of the GTD method, sharing valuable tips and strategies that can improve how you handle your daily tasks. Feeling swamped leads to a growing list of unfinished work, causing stress to pile up. As a result, you might become reactive and waste valuable time on activities that contribute little to our overall productivity.

gtd project management

Getting Things Done is great if you prefer a highly analytical and structured approach and already have some clarity about your goals and priorities. If you’ve been entrusted with a variety of different tasks, the system can be a practical tool for ensuring even better clarity. Add tasks to be done to the ‘Next Actions’ list or record them as a project and break them down into smaller actions. The Getting Things Done method is just one time management strategy. Like all time management techniques, it has its pros and cons. The strategy you choose to implement depends largely on which skills you want to improve with time management.

Fix these common onboarding challenges to boost productivity

See your Todoist tasks in your Google Calendar and your Google Calendar events in Todoist. For more ways to capture all your “open loops”, check out 11 Fast Ways to Get Tasks Off Your Mind and Into Your Todoist. The rest of this article will cover the specifics of each of the five GTD practices above and walk you through how to implement them with Todoist. But, again, the same principles should apply no matter what tool you use. Our Certified Trainers and GTD Coaches around the world are ready to take your productivity to the next level. Connect with our partner in your region and see how they can help you or your organization get started.

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