9 de outubro de 2013

GTD with Google Keep (english version)

GTD stands for "Getting Things Done". It comes from a book by David Allen about personal and professional organization. If you have not read, I recommend it. The guy's ideas are good, so much so that the book has become probably the best known in its area. Personally I could not think of a better system than the one proposed by him.

Finally I found a way to make GTD work masterfully in Google Keep: just use the color scheme Keep already offers. It may seem obvious, but it required a long time searching the internet, and a bit of personal experience.

I will show how my system was organized.


First of all, use labels to implement the concept of contexts. For example, "work", "home", "church", "out-and-about" and "ideas". To do that, enter the top left button, after that, "create new label", and then create your contexts.

Choose first the context whenever a new input arrives. To do that, enter the top left button, after that, enter the desired context and then you can start on the moment of input collection.


Context chosen, take note of the input on a new note.

According to the GTD, inputs can be: "References", "Next Actions", "In Standby", "Someday Maybe", "Projects" and "Calendar". Each type of input goes on a note type with the respective color. Take note of the input on a basic note and after that, choose the type of the note and the color of it, as shown below.
  • References - basic notes in gray. David Allen rightly emphasizes that it is essential to separate the "tasks" from "reference material". References are that stuff that only serves to be consulted, they have informative nature. So any merely referential noting, photo of a annotation written in pen, random ideas, or a web post that maybe I'd want to look at afterwards, etc., is inserted in a gray note. Most often I commit to archive gray notes as soon as they are created, unless I want to be casually remembered to see something on them.
  • Next Actions - basic notes in white. I chose white because it is the default notes color, more suitable to the fact that white notes will be the most used. I use a new note for each new action.
    • Tip: As you may know, on the Next Actions list follow the tasks that must be done as soon as the opportunity arises. GTD prescribes that for each new task you must take note of the "first step", it's that simple initial action necessary for the task to be accomplished. The "first step" has to be decided at the time when the action is inserted into the system. I do the following, I write the task and right after write the first step. For example: "Go change the car's tires. Put new tires in car's trunk".
  • Projects - lists in blue.  For projects I use the notes from list type. GTD defines as "projects" works that require a set of actions to be taken, such as elaborating a dissertation. It would look like this: "Dissertation for Dec/20th". And on its items I add the steps to go ticking.
  • Standby or Someday Maybe Lists - two lists in pool color. On this same color go two different lists, highlighted below. Both are from "list" type (the one with items to mark off, different from "text" type), so if any action is accomplished, just tick the check box corresponding.
    • Someday Maybe List. It's intended to to-do ones you might want to carry someday (or not). This note is single (not multiple) and it's always active, never archive it. It is good to write on the note title its name: "Someday Maybe List".
    • Waiting List. This goes for activities that can be performed only when satisfied some criterion beyond our control, like, for example, delegated tasks. Particularly I don´t keep this list for lack of what to put in it. Even because if a task can only be made ​​on a certain date, I just set up the note reminder and archive it.
  • Calendar tasks - notes in yellow with reminders. I called "Calendar Tasks" those to-do ones that can only be executed on a particular date (independent of time), since that action has to be performed that day specifically, like paying a bill. For these cases, I set up the "reminder" to warn me. Next, I archive the note. I archive because I don't need to keep being reminded of the to-do when the app itself will remember me.
  • Shopping Lists - lists in green. On the lists in green color sticks things I need to buy when I'm occasionally at downtown or to buy on the internet. The product to be purchased follows a note titled like super-market, drugstore, utilities shop, hardware store, building supplies, internet, etc. As the phone is usually with me all the time, it is very handy to check if I need to buy something when I go out. The orange notes are from list type.
  • Scheduled Commitments - Google Calendar. These are not "tasks" properly, but commitments we made. They can only be complied with in a specific time and day, like going to a dentist appointment or go to a work meeting. In this case I prefer to use Google Calendar (instead of the Keep).


When executing, go first to the context (top left button), view the tasks and then you can decide which one to run. Every time I conclude a to-do, archive the note if relevant or just remove it.


4. GTD Advanced

  • In priorities case. If you want to set priorities during the input organizing time, you can use the colors yellow, orange or red depending on the degree of priority. You can also set reminders for notes.
  • Completed task. Once I perform a task, I usually also do a few things more.
    • Write the date on terminated actions (if relevant). Once a to-do is completed and if it's relevant, I write the date at the end (before archiving it). That way I know that on such date I fulfilled that action. For example: "Call telephone provider to ask revise bill. Look up phone number on contacts. 5/13/14". It's good to have this information written down in order to know exactly when you questioned such overcharge on your telephone bill.
    • Note results. In case the action had a relevant result, I also usually record the result. Taking the above example, it would be like this: "Call operator [...] 5/13/14 protocol #123". I'll give you another example of a to-do already performed: "Change the car oil. Go to such gas station. 2/17/14 miles 70,000". That way I know exactly when was the last oil change and what was the exact car mileage.
    • Note the cancellation of an action. When, for whatever reason, I give up performing a task, I do not usually delete the note. Instead I write the date and then add the letter "c" from "canceled". For example: "Fix cracked kitchen wall. 5/17/14 c". If you still want, you can write the reason: "Fix cracked kitchen wall. 5/17/14 c. The dry season started".
  • Schedule posterior actions. If a to-do can only be done on a certain date, or if I just want to postpone it, I set up the note reminder and archive it.
  • Organizing e-mails. If I have nothing more to do with an email I shortly archive, remove or schedule it for a later date. To schedule an e-mail, there is Google Inbox app that lets you do this. Thus the e-mail inbox remains clean.

11 comentários:

GTD newbie disse...

if your projects have next actions as part of its list, do you write them again under next actions?

OR do you only write them as part of your projects note list?

Eduardo Willians Bandeira de Melo disse...

Hi GTD newbie.

I only write them as part of my project note list.

GTD newbie disse...

Thank you for your reply. I am wondering what you would do in a scenario where 3 or 4 projects of yours have different actions to take, such as 2 phone calls, 3 emails, something at a computer. Would you look at white color next action or one of these projects each time you need to decide on a next action?

Eduardo Willians Bandeira de Melo disse...

I didn't quite get it, but I'll try to answer.

First, each project follows a different note list (I dont know whether you're already doing that). Second, each action of a project follows on a new item on its note. I really don't detach an action from a project to put it on a new white note. If you're not sure if an input should be a project or next action, then I'd prefer to insert it in a white note (next action)

If the "decision" you're talking about is which action one should take first (next action or project action), the answer is I usually look at all notes and then decide which one I should take. If you have a priority project, then I'd advise you to use reminders to help you.

Clayton Stangeland disse...

Thanks. Clear and detailed. I am going to try it. What do you use for an inbox? Another note?

Eduardo Willians Bandeira de Melo disse...

Hi, Clayton. In what sense are u using "inbox"?

Matthew Gale disse...

Hi Eduardo... I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on per Clayton's note. I think he's talking about "incoming" inbox. Many of us may have a few incoming mailboxes, where the idea pops in your head, email inbox, physical mailbox, etc. If I can try to clarify for Clayton... do you use Keep for capturing some of those incoming things for the Weekly Review?

Craig Herrmann Design disse...

I am new to Google Keep, but have been using the GTD methodology for some time. I plan to use the default color white as the inbox. If I capture a thought or take a picture. it automatically uses the white color. I can then process later and choose a different color for the action or context.

Edward T. Jenkins disse...

Hi Eduardo, Do you place reminders on your white "next tasks"?

Eduardo Willians Bandeira de Melo disse...

Hi Matthew Gale and Clayton Stangeland. After a whole year, here I am to answer your questions. Sorry. Yes, I use Keep for inbox through a new note. I updated the post, I suggest to quickly decide the context before all, after that, take note of inbox on a new note and then organize for types and colors.

Eduardo Willians Bandeira de Melo disse...

Hi Edward T. Jenkins. Thanx for your suggestion.