Find your Next Action

Knowing the most relevant things you could be doing at any given moment helps you make the best use of your time. This section will teach you how to filter, search, and use the Focus list to see just what you need. You'll also learn about your view options and the Focus email.


Filter using tags and attributes

Filtering allows you to narrow your lists down to the most relevant items using assigned tags and attributes. Try the steps below for on-the-fly filters (which are set until you view a new list or clear these filters). For more permanent filters, take a look at global area filtering.

Filter a list or search results

Good to know: The more filters you select, the more specific your view will be. You will only see items that match all of your filters (rather than any one of them).

Filter multiple lists in one view

You can filter all items from your Inbox, Action lists, Reference lists, and Active Projects in a single view. Here’s how:

Good to know: This type of filtering uses one tag at a time. If you want to filter these results using additional tags or attributes, use the steps above for filtering items within a single list. Similarly to filtering within a list, once you change the view, the filter will be reset.

Filter by area

Areas are similar to other types of tags in that you can assign them to items, manage them, and filter items with them in the same way. They’re unique because they let you change your whole view with Global area filtering. When you do this, the entire app (except for the Inbox) shows items specific to that area.

Filter globally

Exceptions to global filtering

There are a few items you’ll see even if they don’t belong to the area through which you’re filtering. These are:

  • Unassigned items: If an item has no area tags, it’s considered unassigned. If you set your preferences to include unassigned items, you’ll see these regardless of the area selected. You can change this in your settings.

  • Inbox items: Even if your Inbox items have area tags, you’ll see them regardless of the global area filter selected. Since one of the goals of GTD® is getting to Inbox Zero, this helps to make sure these items are given an action state (and sent to the appropriate list). However, you can still filter your Inbox by area. To do this:

    Good to know: Since Focus is a flag, not an action state, you’ll see focused Inbox items in all of your areas’ Focus lists.

Find items with a search

If you want to find a specific item, it’s probably quicker to do a search than to rely on filters.

Perform a basic search

  • On the web app, the search field is located near the top of the window. Just click Search or press tab and begin typing.
  • On the mobile app, the search field is located in the top Navigation Bar. Just click the magnifying glass to enter your search.

Once you start typing, Nirvana will display all actions, projects, reference lists, and reference items that contain matching results (and are not in the logbook or trash).

Good to know: If you don’t find an item using search, there’s a good chance it’s in a different area than what you’re using as a global filter. Try changing the view to All areas to make sure you’re searching all of your items.

Filter your search results

You can filter your search results by due date , energy , time , or tags.

  • In the web app, these filters are available just under the top navigation bar.
  • In the mobile app, tap the 3 dots in the top right of the screen and select the desired criteria.

Take a look at this article for more information on filtering.

Search a specific list in the web app

If you know that what you need is in a certain list, or that a regular search will yield too many results, you can restrict your search.

Using the web app, start the search with “in:” + the selected list, followed by your search term. For example, “in:reference meditate” will find all the items in your references list that contain the word “meditate” and “in:projects meditate” will find all the items in your projects that contain the word “meditate”.

Search the logbook in the web app

We’ve removed Logbook items from the regular search results to help speed things up, but you can still search them if needed.

Using the web app, start the search with “in:logbook” followed by your search term. For example, you might type: “in:logbook report” to see matching logbook results.

Good to know: The logbook shows the last 90 days of completed and collected tasks on desktop, while showing the last 14 days on mobile. If you’d like to see more of your history, you can learn how to export your data.

Focus your items

Focusing items can help you highlight things that need your attention now. They get a star and they appear in the Focus list, which you can have emailed to you daily.

Manually focus items

You can manually focus any item by clicking the star icon next to it. If you’re using the web app, you can also drag items to your Focus list or use Rapid Entry to create a focused item.

Automatically focus items

You can automatically focus an action or project by scheduling a start date or due date for the item. When the date arrives, it will appear in your Focus list.

Due date arrives- item gets focused

Good to know: Starring an item doesn’t move it. The Focus list shows your starred items in one place, but the items still exist in their original locations.

Set up your focus list email

If you’re worried you’ll forget to check your Focus list, you can have it sent to you each day. To start:

  1. Go to your account dashboard.
  2. Scroll down to Focus via Email.
  3. Click Change Days of the Week and make your selections.
Focus email days

Good to know: We’ll send your Focus list to the email address you use to login, so keep an eye out for it there.

Change how list items are seen

Expand or collapse notes

To change how notes are seen (or if they’re seen) in a list, choose from three options:

Condense your view

To fit more information onto your screen, you can also:

Alphabetic sorting

The Projects and References list both allow you to sort their items alphabetically. To choose between ordering them manually and alphabetically:

Change Next list views

There are 3 views available in the Next list. To choose one:

  • Unified List: This shows your Next standalone actions, all incomplete Next actions from active parallel projects, and the first incomplete Next Up action of your active sequential projects in one group.
  • Group by Project: This shows your Next standalone actions followed by groups of active projects containing the incomplete Next/Next Up actions.
  • Sequential Next Action: This shows a list of your Next standalone actions as one group, followed by a group of the next incomplete action of your active projects.

Good to know: If the Next Up action for a sequential project is a Waitingfor or Scheduled action whose start date hasn’t arrived, it will not appear in the Unified List View. In the Group by Project and Sequential Next Action views, you’ll see the action after it.

Change Focus list views

There are 3 views available in the Focus list. To select one:

  • Unified: This shows a list of all Focus items organized into one group.
  • Group by project: This shows a list of all Focus items grouped by standalone actions, then focused projects, then focused actions within their projects, then reference lists and items.
  • Group by state: This shows a list of all Focus items grouped by their action state, followed by a group of Active projects and a group of Reference lists and items.