Tag: GTD

Using Trello for GTD

I am personally a big fan of the Getting Things Done (GTD) System, and I have been an avid user for the past eight years. During that time I have used a lot of productivity systems and apps over the years to help me work with this system, and I have always come back to Trello because it is so adaptable and works so well with GTD. The GTD System, in a nutshell, is basically a system of organization that helps you collect and organize all those ideas, projects, and to-dos circling around inside your head. With GTD, you have a trusted system in place to get everything down on paper so that you can finally spend more of your time focusing your attention on the things that are important rather than worrying about something you might have missed or forgotten. Here are some tips and ideas on how I customized Trello to work with the GTD system. I hope that these ideas work for you:


I keep an Inbox List on my Next Actions Board in Trello to collect my ideas, it’s simpler, and makes things easier to move to my actionable lists. I used to have a separate Inbox board in the past, but it got to be way too complicated. A simple inbox list should do nicely.

Next Actions

Here I have my items listed on this board based on status. I find that this system works best for Trello. Because you can easily move tasks in order on a list based on the order they need to get done, and you can always move tasks forward or behind if you need to.


To organize your tasks, I would recommend tags or stickers. For example, I use tags to designate contexts in my Next Actions list like home, errands, web, etc. This way I can visually group and organize tasks in a list based on their context and get them all done at once.



One of the lists that I keep with my next actions is the Someday/Maybe list. I keep those items there and review them regularly before I move them to either my projects list or my Next Actions list.

Tickler File

For upcoming events, or tasks that need to be done I assign a card with a due date or assign the card to me. In order to see notifications for this card, I click the “Subscribe” option located in the right side bar menu on the board. This notifies me of any updates that I made to the board and any cards associated with that board. Very handy for status updates. When I want to see what tasks need to be done, I select my username, then cards. From here I can choose to sort the cards based on due date, or the board they are associated with. By linking my Trello board to Google Calendar, I can always get a reminder when an item is due, and thanks to the recent Google Inbox integration, it is also easy to see and pin all the reminders from Trello that need to be done.


I keep a Project Board for all my projects. Because most of the projects that I have to do are relatively small in nature I usually just create a card with a checklist of the tasks that need to get done. These are all assigned to lists on my project board, which I have divided into general categories like home, family, finances, personal, health, etc.

When I am ready to assign a task to be done, I open the project card and look at my checklist of to-dos. I select the checklist item, and copy it, then I select the option to convert the item to a card. From here, I select and copy the card link, then close that card and open the new card that I just created on my list.

In the description, I paste the project card link and save it, then I move the card to my next actions list for processing. This enables me always to refer back to the original project card when I am working so I can check my progress.

If you prefer seeing all your completed tasks, you can always copy and paste the task back into the checklist and mark it as complete, that way you know it has been processed, but either way, it’s up to you.

 Bottom Line

There are a lot of other things that you can do in Trello too besides task management. Because Trello is such a simple and easy to understand system, anyone can use it. You can customize Trello to suit whatever format you would like. From your daily to-do lists, to meal planning, or just jotting down and to even creating your own blog like you see here. Your options are pretty much unlimited. If you are lost and don’t know where to start there are also a lot of great templates to choose from here. Everything can be shared by other members of your team or family, and you can easily attach images or documents, or link to your favorite cloud storage provider like Dropbox or Google Drive. And It all syncs in real-time across all your devices. Really, what’s not to love about Trello?


How Google Keep can be Adapted to the GTD System

When it comes to using Google Keep, most people wouldn’t necessarily consider Keep to work as a task management system. Sure, its great for setting up basic checklists and writing down quick notes, but to use as a basic to-do list manager? Not really. Well today I am here to show you that with a few small tweaks it can be very easily done.

Color Categories 

There are currently eight colors that you can use to organize your notes in Keep. While you can organize your notes anyway you please, I would suggest using the following color configuration for implementing the Getting Things Done (GTD) system into Google Keep:

White – this is the basic default color. I would suggest using this as your default Inbox for all of your new content.

Red- Priority/Hotlist items. These are items which have to be done immediately.

Orange – Next Actions items.

Yellow– Waiting on/Pending list. Items that are pending or waiting on someone else to get done.

Green – Appointments, deadlines, recurring tasks. Anything with a due date goes here. This is basically your tickler file.

Cyan – Projects. Anything project related goes here.

Blue – My lists. This is the free list, you can use it for whatever you like, for example, I often use this list for shows that I want to watch or books that I want to read, or  interesting things that I want to check out later.

Gray– Someday/Maybe List. This is for items that I plan to do someday, and little notes/snippets that I want to save.

Reference – Any reference items I  save to archive which can be accessed later.

This can also be done using the Category Tabs for Google Keep Extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/category-tabs-for-google/dlahcjmefibiedeecoegjilekaebchhl?hl=en

The best part is when you click on each category it takes to all the items with that color, even the archived items. Pretty neat, if you ask me.


The great thing about Google Keep is that they have a search feature which enables you to easily find your notes based on color, reminder, shared lists, and labels. They also have added general categories based on things like Travel and Music. It is very quick and easy to find the note that you are looking for.


Labels can be used as contexts to refine each list to a specific subcategory. For example, you can use contexts to define where a task should be done, liked @home, @errands, etc.

Assigning tasks to others is  easy, all you have to do is add a person to a note and any changes that you or the person make to the note are updated in real time.

Another nifty little trick is that when you add a hashtag to an item in a checklist, it automatically assigns that label to your note.

Keep lets you set reminders based on time or location, all of which sync automatically to Google Calendar. Keep also has recurring reminders. The widget in the android app lets you display notes by tag or due date so it’s easy to see at a glance what needs to be done.

You can also use the pin to top feature to add notes to the top of your list for easier viewing.

Additional Productivity Tools

With the Google Keep Chrome Extension, you can save links and images from your computer to Keep to be reviewed later. On your Android phone you can write notes by hand or transcribe text from an image, and the voice recorder capabilities are great. Not only can Keep easily record your thoughts, it also is smart enough to recognize when you want to create a new list or add items to an existing checklist.

Keep easily integrates with other apps like Inbox, Google Calendar, and Google Drive for additional functionality like emails and document storage.  You can get 15 gigs of data for absolutely free, and it is easy to link shared documents from Google Drive to Google Keep, and thanks to the sharing features already built into Google Keep and Google Docs, it is easy to share notes with colleagues and collaborate with others to get things done. Plus thanks to the Save to Google Drive extension, it is now very easy to save articles you find on the web to Google Drive which can be linked back to a note in Keep for reference.

Limitations to this System. 

Obviously in terms of Google’s history of killing apps, this is a major concern for some people.  But for many, Google Keep fits the bill, and it’s free. If you looking for something more advanced, there are plenty of other options out there like Wunderlist, TickTick, Any.Do, or Todoist. But if you are looking for a simple, easy to use productivity and note taking system, I would have to say that Keep stands out as a strong contender, and shouldn’t be overlooked.