Daniel Rotter Web Developer

My Getting Things Done system in Wunderlist

tags productivity, wunderlist
time 07 Feb 2014

I have been reading the official Getting Things Done book by David Allen, and now I want to summarize the most important lessons I have learnt. These tips work best when used in Wunderlist, which is my favourite todo app.

Maybe I should mention that I don’t follow every advice from the book, because some of them seem too inconvenient to me. The most important thing is to keep the system up to date, and nobody would do that, if he or she doesn’t like the procedure for it.

Write everything down

For me that was by far the most relevant point: Everything has to be written down, doesn’t matter if it affects your personal or professional life. Otherwise you don’t trust the system, and as an effect you don’t use it. I am aware of the fact that many people don’t want to mix personal and professional life (me as well). But getting all these thoughts out the head feels really comfortable!

Introduce lists for your bigger areas of responsibility

I have to admit, that this one is not that easy to implement, because it’s hard to determine how many tasks justify the grouping into an own list. For now I use lists for this blog, things I have to buy, the office, the university, some projects, travelling and further education. I don’t know if I stick with these lists, but at the moment it feels fine.

Use Hashtags for the required context

Another useful tip from the book is to define the required tools, persons or places for a given task. This way it is no problem to find all the tasks, which can be done with the context currently available. Fortunately Wunderlist offers hashtags, which can be used for this opportunity. For instance, if I tag a task with #linux, I know that I need my linux operating system be booted up. And if that happens to be the case, I can click on or search for the tag in Wunderlist, and it shows me all the tasks I can work on right now.

Only mark real deadlines with a due date

This is also a very valuable tip: If you set a date on tasks, until when you wish to have finished them, all the other real deadlines lose on priority. That’s because the system (at least Wunderlist) doesn’t offer any possibility to specify the date further, which means you really have to use it for the same meaning all the time. So I agreed on the deadline, because these are harder dates then my desired completion.

Attach important task information to the notes section

Wunderlist gives you the great opportunity to add any written notes to a task. With this functionality you can easily add information, which will be useful when you finally start working on this task. I use this section for some information I got from somebody else, useful links I found on the internet and so on.

Make a regular review

The next question is another one of trust. It’s hard to keep all the lists and tasks up to date, resulting in the duty to have a regular look at the system. Remove tasks which are not important anymore or which you just forgot to tick off. Maybe you can even dump an entire list.

Don’t be afraid to abuse the system for checklists

Although this tip doesn’t help on getting anything done it’s very useful. First I used Wunderlist only for tasks, which I can tick off after a period of time. But I found out that it’s really nice for checklists as well. So I added a list called checklists, and added a task for every checklist. The content of the checklist goes to the task’s subtasks. If you know that these tasks are only for reference and will never be done, it even feels ok to let them pend undone.