Todoist GTD setup

My Todoist GTD setup – Part 1: Projects, contexts, and actions

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Having a good digital tool to help you organize your Getting Things Done system is essential. In this post, I’m showing you how to set up Todoist for GTD.

Todoist GTD setup

This is part one of a two-part series describing my Todoist GTD setup. You may find the next part here: My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2: Weekly Review and Focus Horizons.

I know that it is possible to do GTD on paper, but in my mind, having a good digital tool to help you organize your Getting Things Done system is essential. With today’s fast pacing and constantly changing priorities, I seriously do not see how people can manage this on paper. I find that 70% of my action items come from, or at least involves email. Going for a paper-based system would be a nightmare.

Not familiar with GTD? Read my blog post, Getting Things Done – What is it?

 

My GTD tool: Todoist

I think it is safe to say that I have tried most of the GTD tools on the market (as of summer 2016) I have ended up with Todoist Pro. This tool is not perfect, but with some tweaking, it works really well. My final reasons for choosing Todoist was the following:

  • Flexibility: Todoist runs on every major platform. Windows, Windows 10 Mobile, Android, Android Wear, OS X, iOS, and web.
  • Integration: Outlook Gmail, Chrome, Firefox, IFTTT, to name a few. See full list here: https://support.todoist.com/hc/en-us/articles/205143181-Integrations
  • Todoist Karma. (It really works!)
  • Trust: With more than 5 million users and a good customer service, I feel that this is a service I can literally build my life around.

 

My Todoist GTD setup

Part of Todoist’s success is due to its flexibility. The downside of this flexibility is that you have to figure out how to set up Todoist as a GTD tool. I don’t think that my Todoist GTD setup is the one and only way to do this. It all boils down to how you have implemented GTD in your life. What I do know is that I’m in some way or another using most aspects of the Getting Things Done method, so I think that there will be something to learn for most GTD practitioners by reading this Todoist GTD setup guide.

Remember this about GTD: The app comes second, the approach comes first. Click To Tweet

Projects

According to Davin Allen, a project is anything that takes more than one step to complete. For all practical purposes, a project can be as defined by David Allen or used as a parking place for action items related to the same issue, project or type of work. Personally, I tend to use both types of projects.

In part two of this post, I will show how to use Todoist projects for managing Weekly Review and Focus Horizons.

Contexts (Labels)

(Please be aware that in order to use Labels, you must have a Todoist premium account.)
Contexts are maybe one of the most useful features in Getting Things Done. Used correctly they can multiply your productivity and turbocharge the way you work.

I define contexts as something both physical and mental. It can be the physical place you need to be. Some types of work can only be done at the office or at home. Some things can only be decided at the next department meeting or the next time you have sit-down time with your boss or customer. Because contexts have to be tailored to both the way you function as a person and the nature of your work, this is maybe the area where you will have to adjust your Todoist GTD setup the most.

It can also be useful to define important tools like computer or internet as a context. In periods when I travel a lot, I will have flight or offline as a context. This enables me to sort out the type of work I can do when flying with no access to WIFI.

A context can also be a mental state or role. I use a context called Work for everything work-related, independently of where I decide to work.

 

My contexts

Be aware that since Todoist does not have Next Action or energy levels defined as separate items in the software, you will have use Labels for this.

  • Todoist LabelsWork
    Anything work related that does not involve having to meet with other people. This is both a mindset context and a physical context.
  • Private
    Anything private that can be done anywhere.
  • Home
    Anything that I need to be physically at home to get done.
  • Cabin
    Anything that I need to be physically at the cabin to get done.
  • Next Action
    Just that. All of my next actions viewed in one place.
  • Phone
    This context can be very handy in between two meetings or when driving a car.
  • Work.Ag.Mngr
    Anything I need to discuss with my manager when we have time together.
  • Work.Ag.Team
    Anything I need to discuss or inform about the next time we are all in the same room.
  • Follow-up
    Any emails or delegated actions that are critical enough to warrant my time ensuring that it has been answered or done.
  • Low Energy
    Things that I can do Friday afternoon or on a lazy Sunday morning.

 

Filters

This is probably the feature that I use the least.

  • Todoist GTD setupNext Action Work
    All of my next actions for work-related projects.
    This is what I choose from when I have done everything work-related on my Today list.
  • Work projects
    All of my work-related projects in one place.
  • Home
    The two contexts Home and Personal.
  • Cabin
    The two contexts Cabin and Personal.
  • Next Actions @Home
    This is what I choose from if I’m at home and have done all the private stuff on my Today list.
  • Next Actions @Cabin
    This is what I choose from if I’m at the cabin and have done all the private stuff on my Today list.
  • Overdue
    I better not find anything here.
  • Priority 1
    What is most important in my life right now.
  • No due date and No context
    I use these to do a “quality check” in my Weekly Review.
  • Next 30 days
    What is in the way for my vacation or when doing long-term planning.
  • Compleated today
    -No longer supported.

To learn more about Todoist filters, read The ultimate guide to Todoist filters.

 

Capturing tools

As a part of my Todoist GTD setup, I use the following tools and methods to capture information into Todoist.

Automated:

  • Using IFTTT, I get action items for unanswered calls and SMS messages on my cell phone directly into my Todoist inbox.
  • Using IFTTT and the local weather forecast, I get an action with priority 1 in the morning if it will rain or snow during the day.

On the move:

  • Todoist shortcut on my Samsung Galaxy Note8.
  • Newton from Cloudmagic integrates email with Todoist on my phone and tablet.
  • Livescribe 3 smart-pen + App. Send notes to Todoist.
  • Mont Blanc ballpoint pen and a small Moleskine notebook

In the office and at home:

  • Todoist Outlook add-in
  • Square bank paper notes

 

Do not miss my next blog post: My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2: Weekly Review and Focus Horizons.

 

Web Hosting

 

LIKE THIS POST?

One comment

Say something