Getting Things Done with Daylite

Quick Tips / May 6, 2015 / Kristie

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity method developed by David Allen that is designed to help you get organized so you can be more productive. It’s a system with the end goal to free your mind of unnecessary distractions so you can use it to focus on the task at hand.

One of the many reasons people love using Daylite is because it supports the GTD system. Daylite was designed with the same principles in mind as GTD and that is to get everything out of your head and into a system that organizes your thoughts and goals so you can be present and focus your attention on the current moment. This allows you to be more productive with your time.


We’ve all experienced the feeling at some point or another in our lives where we are so overwhelmed by everything that we have to do in a short period of time that we don’t even know where to start. Or worse, you know where you should start but you can’t focus your attention enough to do the work because you’re thinking about everything else you have to do.

In a Ted Talk with David Allen called The Art of Stress Free Productivity, David Allen states that while many people think this problem is due to lack of time, the actual issue is psychic bandwidth.

There’s only so much our psyche can handle at a time before it starts to break down. When your brain is trying to remember what to pick up from the grocery store on the way home, who to call later tonight, and what time your meeting is next week, you are unable to focus your attention on what you’re doing right now. You’re using up your psychic bandwidth to remember things that aren’t related to the current moment.

David explains that in order to be productive we need to focus our attention and practice appropriate engagement. “You want the ability to be able to put your focus exactly where you need it, in the way you need it. And not use your mind to be trying to accumulate stuff and avoid it.” The GTD system is broken down into 5 steps and for each step you can use Daylite to help you implement the methodology.

The 5 key components of GTD & how Daylite fits in:

1. Capture

Get your ideas out of your head and onto a piece of paper or in a system. Write down your ideas and thoughts as they happen so you don’t have to take up any more of your psychic bandwidth to remember them. If you’re walking into a meeting and remember that you have to call someone after the meeting, write it down so that rather than thinking about making the call, you can focus on your meeting.

This can be done in Daylite by doing a brain dump of a bunch of tasks as shown in this Working with Tasks tutorial video, or simply by creating a new task for things as you think of them. If you’re on the go and remember something you need to do, just create a task in Daylite on your iPhone.

2. Clarify

Expand on whatever the task or note is that you’ve captured. If you just write down “call Sam” or “follow up with Julie”, there’s a chance you will remember the details. There’s also a chance you won’t. Avoid the possibility of not remembering what the task or note was about by clarifying what the details are. Daylite does this by giving context. For a task you’ve created, link it to the appropriate person or project that it’s related to.

You can also use the details field to enter in extra information to jog your memory and outline the goal or outcome you want. If the task is to “follow up with Julie”, write what the follow up is about. What is the result you hope to get when completing the task? Is it to confirm a time for your meeting next week? Then write that down. Maybe it’s a task that someone else needs to do, then delegate it to the appropriate person.


3. Organize

Sort your to-dos so they’re in the right place and organize them into digestible chunks. Assign due dates so you know what is a priority, break tasks down if they require multiple steps, and group tasks into buckets. Map out your plan for the tasks so you see where each of them fits in.

You can do this in Daylite by assigning due dates to your tasks and setting a reminder so you no longer need to think about it. You can group similar tasks such as all your phone calls, all your emails that need to be sent, and all your errands together. You can do this in Daylite by assigning the category @phone, @email, @errand to your tasks.

Then you can filter your tasks by the appropriate category when you have the time and necessary resources. For more information about how to do this, read this help article.

If a task has multiple steps, or you have similar tasks that are all related to one thing, use a Project. You can organize your tasks in a project by due date, by category, or build a Pipeline if there’s a series of stages that your tasks need to be lumped into. This helps you to map out all the pieces of your big to-dos.

For more information, watch this video of How to create a project pipeline.

4. Reflect

Review your to-dos and decide what is most important to tackle next. Take a step back to gain perspective so you know that what you’re working on next is really what you should be working on. Life isn’t static. Things change and new opportunities pop up. You need to be flexible so that you are able to grab those opportunities as they come up.

Understand what can be shifted to the side or made room for. In Daylite, review all your active Projects and Opportunities so you can assess which ones are most important, and which ones can be deferred. This way you can reset your priorities without worrying that something else will be forgotten about.

Use the Worklist to pin the top 2-3 tasks that you need to work on so you have a clear focused list.


5. Engage

After you’ve decided the most important thing to do, simply do it. By following the previous 4 steps, you should be able to confidently accomplish a task because you know it’s the most important thing to be doing.

You should have a clear mindset to focus on the task in front of you because you are no longer thinking about anything else that needs to be done. After you’ve completed the task, simply check it off your task list and move to the next one.

By following the 5 key components of the GTD system and using Daylite as the tool to support the system, you’re able to be appropriately engaged. David Allen also explains in the above video that your mind is most productive when you have the freedom to make a creative mess.

When your mind is free of distracting thoughts of alarms and reminders, it has the space to think, to make mistakes, and to explore new ideas. That’s when you get the best work done. Daylite was designed to help support this concept.

By organizing everything in Daylite, your mind is free to create and execute ideas.

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