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A GTD Daily Review (for when time is short)

Have you ever been in a situation where new, time sensitive (i.e. homework due tomorrow) tasks are given to you on a daily basis, and no matter how elegant and streamlined your GTD system is, there just seems like there’s too much that has to be done?

The Goal: A GTD System that provides quick organization and direction about what today’s Hard Landscape is (“Things that have to get done”), so you can get to sleep and function the next day.

Presenting: The Daily Review (for when time is short).

The Situation: I am busy, and I need to transition quickly from Collect (GTD Step 1) to Do (GTD Step 5).

The Caveat: The following is not a recommendation to leave GTD methods permanently, just a temporary method to speed up the task accomplishment process. Use of this method requires the use of extra time to accomplish what you’ve skipped to get things done sooner.


The Process: For best results, do this without a computer, as there are much less distractions when you just use paper. If you don’t like writing your tasks out, think about this: writing your tasks down on paper makes you commit to them, because you probably write slower than you type. If a task is worth doing – It’s worth writing down. For the daily review, you’ll need your calendar, your next action list (a list of the very next things you have to do to accomplish your goals), a writing utensil, and a blank sheet of paper.

  1. Write the date at the top. This step provides focus. It is the “Time Available” part of the Four-Criteria Model of GTD. It reminds you that there is only one day that you are planning right now: Today. This step also forces you to limit your tasks to those that are of highest priority, focused towards your goals, and can be finished in the time available.
  2. Process and Organize Your Inbox (Handy Chart) The linked chart is the Full GTD Method of “is it actionable,” etc. and that’s great, but when time is short, you can streamline this process.
    1. Remove all non actionable items from your inbox and put them into a “to file” pile if they are reference. If the item is trash, THROW IT OUT!
    2. If it is due tomorrow, or for any other reason it involves a task that must be done today, write it down on today’s list. This is your hard landscape, “a useful terrain for maneuvering throughout the day”
      1. hard landscape: things which absolutely have to be done by a particular deadline, or meetings and appointments which are fixed in time and place. To-do items should be reserved for the next action lists.” [Hat Tip]
    3. Write it in the correct context. My daily review list today resulted in an “@ concentrate, @ calls, and an @ errands.
    4. If you are not going to do anything with a particular item/thought/next action today, track it on an “inbox” list, to be processed later.
  3. What is today’s agenda? Are there events that happen at certain times? Today, I am having dinner, eating out with my family at 6, and then tutoring a student at 8.
  4. When Should I actually do these tasks? As soon as you can, but consider using the time blocking method to help you actually do your tasks.

“GTD tends to leave it up to you as to how to decide what needs to be done right now–Allen seems to believe if you have everything laid out in front of you, it will be obvious what needs to be done at any given moment based on your circumstances (deadlines, how much time you have available, what tools are nearby, how much energy you have, etc.)” (Hat Tip)

I hope that this process makes deciding what “needs to be done right now” easier.


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7 Responses to “A GTD Daily Review (for when time is short)”

  1. [...] A GTD Daily Review (for when time is short)Todd at Gearfire Productivity offers up a quick-and-dirty approach to GTD to act as a stopgap when time gets short. Not a replacement for GTD, but a way to get through a rough patch without falling off the wagon altogether.Tags: gtd productivity review digg_url = ‘'; ( function() { var ds=typeof digg_skin==’string’?digg_skin:”; var h=80; var w=52; if(ds==’compact’) { h=18; w=120; } var u=typeof digg_url==’string’?digg_url:(typeof DIGG_URL==’string’?DIGG_URL:window.location.href); document.write(“”); } )() Author: Lifehack Editors Posted: Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 at 4:00 am Tags: links Bookmark or Share this with a friend! [...]

  2. I’m a college student. I want to use GTD aka Getting Things Done (by David Allen) to manage my time. I’d like to integrate the mechanism with applications such as OmniFocus or Things on Macintosh to manage my study and other errands in life.

  3. I’ve heard there are tools, that can help you organize your time and to-dos. I think I’m looking for an on-line thing, so that I could access it from anywhere. I’m just starting with GTD, but I think that paper and pencil will never work for me.

  4. there are many of them, depending on what you need. If you need just a personal organizer, that probably Google Calendar will do the trick for you. There are also many other systems, like Todoist or Remember the Milk.

  5. I prefer to track my personal to-dos together with my business tasks and use Wrike as a project management system. You might wanna check this one out, they even have a post on GTD with their tool.

  6. David Allen does offer some kind of software too. There’s also a list at, if you need more examples. You’ll still have to spend quite some time to find the right tool.

  7. You know….I was just thinking about this daily review thing on my way to work this morning. I won’t skip the weekly review, but with things moving at the speed of light these days, a DAILY review seems to be a good idea.