My Setup for Getting Things Done

NOVEMBER 6, 2019

This post details my personal setup for implementing Getting Things Done. It follows on from my post earlier this year summarizing the Getting Things Done process.

Setup Infrastructure

This is how I set up all the “infrastructure”. The three main things you need are:

  1. A primary capture / inbox tool => Todoist
  2. The main processing lists (Next, Projects, Someday Maybe, Tickler etc) => Todoist
    • Preferentially these would be in same location as the inbox for easy movement of tasks
  3. A reference / filing system => files + git with some stuff in GDrive
    • I imagine most people would just use their hard disk plus sync to their cloud drive of choice. I used git as I prefer markdown files, a proper editor like vim and the command line.

Inbox plus Primary Lists => Todoist

Todoist is the primary app for personal capture and key lists

NB: If you want labels (context) you need to go premium. Todoist is great so I heartily recommend this.

What lists go where?

  • Inbox (personal) = Todoist Inbox

  • Next = todoist

  • Tickler = todoist with dates

  • Someday maybe = todoist with date

    • Movies
    • Books
  • Waiting for: ?? followupthen

    • Meeting agendas

Reasons for Choosing Todoist


  • offline and online
  • phone and computer (and syncable)
  • could handle at least personal inbox and probably next list (plus more)
  • easy to add to from current inboxes e.g. gmail etc
  • reasonable UI for fast use

Options considered vs todoist

  • plain text files (+ git)
    • why not: sync problem
      • investigated git on phone but a bit of pain. Could use dropbox but yet another service
      • plus you have to commit every time
      • editing is not as convenient and especially moving things between lists
    • why: really simple tech, open source, etc etc
  • google tasks
    • difficult to move lists
    • offline on desktop unclear
  • android tasks (fork of astrid) - syncs with gtasks
  • trello: desktop offline support does not work, proprietary and getting restrictive (i had moved off todoist to this 5m ago)
  • other task apps: not really considered (checked some of them out when selecting todoist 7m ago)
  • gdocs or similar - no advantages much over plain text files in synccing (maybe a bit better) but much to complex and don’t like editor (want plain text as much as possible) and no easy set up for moving between stuff

Setup Todoist with Lists as Projects

Use projects for key lists:

  • Next
  • Projects
  • Waiting For
  • Someday Maybe

I also added:

  • Books
  • Music
  • Movies

Use labels for contexts e.g.

  • @phone
  • @computer
  • @shopping

Discussion of use of projects vs labels for lists in todoist

Projects vs labels in todoist

  • Projects can be shared (do i ever want to share)? Labels can’t be? => Answer no, i don’t think so …
  • Item can be in one and only one project => you can’t have something in two areas
  • Am i using todoist to plan my projects? No i don’t think so …
  • Things with labels don’t move out of inbox but those with projects do …
  • Things with priority don’t move out of inbox.


A. use projects as “projects” and actually do more task management in todoist. I then need something to designate lists, options:

  • labels: e.g. @next, @someday etc
  • p3 for next, p4 for someday
  • use dates (a la JoeMc) where anything with a due next in next 2w is in next, project wishlist for someday …

B. Use projects for lists and labels for any project classification i want

I prefer B because I want to avoid starting to do PM in todoist. Project analysis and subtask analysis can happen elsewhere. Todoist is for GTD approach for now.

For Reference (and Project Support) use Git (+ Gitlab) with GDrive for Personal

For notebook (reference) and projects =>

  • main (computer): git repo with plain text
  • phone: notebook = google keep (i’d prefer something with an API)
    • annoying things about keep: proprietary, no API, character limit, no markdown
    • great things: nice simple UX, add images etc very easily

For admin / private => personal gdrive



  • E: Accessible on my laptop including offline
  • E: synced to “cloud”
  • E: quick to edit, quick to file
  • D: Accesible on my phone (esp for book noting)
  • NTH: Can save to it from email or from web
  • NTH: can share easily (for some personal stuff e.g. finances?)


  • gdrive - proprietary, offline is painful (with multiple accounts)
  • git(lab) - open source, will be around forever, great offline and online (not so good on phone but that is limited)

First pass on Capture Process

Capture locations

Incoming locations

  • All emails …
  • github
  • gitlab
  • todoist
  • All existing todo list, lists including for work
  • All places on my hard disk …
  • My mini-cupboard / desk at home

Going forward

  • todoist
  • email

Continuing Process

  • Set up locations
  • Communicate to colleagues how to notify me
  • Calendar regular review times

Capture Locations

  • todoist
  • email


  • How do you deal with physical stuff (letters etc)? Ans: Will usually scan or take a picture