Take a breath, there can be trade offs in everything, including
the decision that it is easier to scroll through a list some of
which may not be immediately actionable, rather than micro managing
the exact sequence of every item. There are varying degrees of
purity and people need to find the degree which works for them
Trade offs yes, I dont mind other features being there, if other
people need other stuff thats fine with me... but without the
ability to do fundamental GTD, and comments from Elbert that seem
completely contradictory to GTD (only think about something once) i
really wonder if i have wasted my time here.
I honestly thought everyone got this and it was on its way - but
it seems i may have been mistaken
155 Posted by MardiGrasStephen on 09 Jul, 2010 08:29 PM
Keep thinking out loud. It really does work as long as people
understand it is thinking and not a/the plan.
Ok, I HATE tags. When anyone suggests it, I cringe and have
flash backs of TD and having 5 tags per item and a bunch of
different searches to give me the report I am looking for BUT there
needs to be an easy way to filter through next actions.
When I look at what needs to be done today, I want to see only
those items. When I want to see what needs to be done this week
(but does not have a due date) so I can decide on what to add to
today's list, I only want to see those to do items. I have over
400+ actions and going through those weekly is difficult but
manageable. Daily, I'd go nuts. I take my list, add a tag called
week to that action so I can do a daily review on just those items
to plan my day.
Personally, I'd suggest a simple, everything is one list. If it
needs to be done today, it gets a star, check, something. If it is
high on the list of things to get done this week give it a
different designation. There does need to be a view that only shows
those items else it is mental overload if everything is seen
Again, just thinking out loud.
Oh. One suggestion though. Web 2.0 is great and all and drag and
drop is cool but for working with lots of next actions, we need to
be able to do just about everything from the keyboard as well.
I think your Idea of an "upcoming" List is not so bad and could
also work with gtd. because originally Next actions where defined
as the next physical Action of a project.
But I also have to disagree with some of your other Statements.
I've got the feeling you try to implement some kind of
"planning" feature. But GTD is not about planning when to do an
Action. The weekly Review is about capturing, processing and
reviewing. And when you use a GTD System the way Allen defined it
there is absolutely no need to plan your Week. The Power of gtd
lies in dealing with an ever changing World. One Call from your
Boss, a Key Customer or a project Team member and everything could
be different. Otherwise you would permanently postpone tasks from
one day to the next. thats Not GTD. thats what my colleague is
doing by writing all her tasks in her Outlook calendar.
I understand that everyone has his own Way of productivity but
when you Write GTD on the cover, there should also be GTD in the
I also don't understand the confusion about projects. Allen
speaks of project Plans and Next Actions lists that are divided by
categories (@work, @Calls, ...). A project Plan consists of
actionable and non-actionable tasks. but you only put the actinable
tasks on the Next actions List. but GtD is not a Project Management
Tool. Mostly its enough to Plan a few steps in your gtd projects
because the World and especially projects are changing so fast.
please excuse the typos. I wrote this post on my smart
Today, I watched the Someday/Maybe videos in GTD connect. Now,
Proximo’s earlier long posts make a lot more sense. In one of
the discussions DA discouraged people from creating intermediary
lists between Next Actions and Someday/Maybe. Alternatively, they
suggested subdividing a list to make it manageable to scan, e.g.,
Someday-Travel, Someday-books, etc.
DA describes next actions as changes that you want to make on
the world, or, “the next physical, visible activity that
needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward
Either you need new tires or you don’t. At some point,
the tire thing crosses a very distinct line. Before then, not
needed. After then, needed. Once they’re needed, there are no
ABC categories for tires. They also don’t quite fit into the
“quadrant” matrix. Either they are a project to be done
as soon as we can or they are not. Period.
TODAY and UPCOMING lists are GTD if they are subcategories of
ACTION list. As suggested by Elbert this approach will give
everyone flexibility to customize their own GTD system. GTD
is all about flexibility so that one can trust their system to
capture 100% of commitments and be available in an easily
At some point, we need functional smart lists to effectively
manage the various lists.
"I agree. If something is not a Next Action, it either goes in
Someday, Waiting for, reference or trash can."
Are you saying a project task that is dependent on an earlier
task is a someday task? I am sure you have previously described
looking at a project and moving tasks up to a next section so they
appear in the unified next list. So are the ones you dont move up
I'm pretty sure Proximo was talking about single action tasks
(after all, the comments were made in the context of Later/Next Up,
which is intended to sort single actions in Next).
can the screenshot you mentioned still be seen somewhere? I'd
like to see what an implementation of the calendar would look
I'm not sure I got the whole idea behind "Next Up". Would that be a
replacement for Later? Or would it be an addition? And would it be
an additional list? Maybe a screenshot of this could help us answer
your question. From the reaction to Later, however, I would guess
that your suggestions wouldn't sit well with the same group of
Here are my thoughts on your suggestions, though:
I like the Later concept but am not completely satisfied with its
implementation because using Later for tasks means I don't have all
my next actions in the Next Actions list. As for "Next Up", as far
as I understand it, I really like it, because (if it is a filtered
list within Next) I can keep all my next actions in one place but
have a view that helps me focus on certain tasks. And I like that
everyone can define what „Next Up“ means for them
(tomorrow, this week, etc.). So I'm definitely for a Next Up
filter. As for the calendar feature, I'll address that a little
later. But let me say at this point that I like it, simply because
it reflects my reality at work.
@all: Just a gentle reminder to always stay polite and
courteous. One thing I really appreciate in this forum is that
people here are very civil, even kind. Let's keep it that way.
And let me just mention a few aspects I try to keep in mind when
I'm posting here:
Nirvana is still in beta and it's for free
Elbert and others seem to work around the clock. I see them
posting replies on the week-end, during holidays, in the middle of
the night, even during their well-deserved vacation!
Compared to other apps (even ones I'm paying for), Nirvana is
progressing super fast and has taken great leaps forward since I
started using it a few months ago.
The devs are not only communicating with us, they're willing to
discuss their ideas for features with us! I've posted in other
forums where you hardly ever heard from the devs and got no comment
about anything concerning upcoming features (not even which
features they were planning to implement). So I'm really glad
Elbert & co are so open about everything and that they listen
to us (which doesn't necessarily mean that they'll do things the
way we want them to be done). So, Elbert, Christiane, and the rest
of you: Thanks a lot for what you do!
Now I'm worried, too. You seem to have a completely different
understanding of GTD than me and Martin Tyler. I don't want this to
sound like a thread or something but when sequential projects are
not coming to Nirvana, soon, I might have to look for another GTD
app. Not because I'm not getting my demands fulfilled, but because
Nirvana is of no use to me, then. And probably never will.
Up until now I was willing to wait because sequential projects
might be just around the corner. But now, your latest comments show
that you don't think of them of being crucial to GTD. Well, I
I completely agree with you. I'm kind of shocked by some of the
comments here, especially from people who are supposed to be GTD
gurus. I thought, too, that everybody who had dealt with GTD for
more than fifteen minutes must have understood the thing about
projects, next steps and the next list.
Even though this may seem like splitting hairs, let me make an
important distinction. Creating sequential projects in Nirvana
is possible. You only have to drag and drop subtasks
within a project to create the desired order and, voilà,
you've got a sequential project. What you can't do is
create automated sequential projects. But that is not a
feature of GTD. After all, the GTD methodology was originally
developed as a paper based system where automatically moving a
project's next action into Next isn't even possible, so how could
this be a crucial feature? That automatic sequential projects can
be very practical and that they may be crucial to the way you work
is a different matter. I would like to see this implemented as
well, even though I could also live without it.
As to this feature being around the corner, it's not mentioned in
"What's next?" and in a thread where this was discussed some time
ago, Elbert expressed scepticism concerning the necessity of
automatically moving tasks into Next. So I wouldn't wait for it, if
this is something that is absolutely necessary for you.
I want my Next List to consist only of those actions
that I really can do next. This is the list I want to filter by
tags, time, criteria, context etc., to decide which task I start
working on. I don't want Step 5 of a project to appear there when
Steps 1-4 are not done yet, because that makes no sense at all.
Without any hard feelings: As long as Nirvana can't do that,
it's of no use to me. And regarding Elbert's latest comments, he
does not really plan on implementing this feature. Which means, I
wasted my time here.
@Lasse - I disagree - within a project you may be able to do
sequential just by ordering - but GTD is about your whole life, and
there is no way in Nirvana to order all your tasks across all
projects - so using order is only useful within a project
We don't NEED automatic sequential, but we definitely need
actionable/non-actionable so you can see all your actionable tasks
(yes across all projects, they are all tasks, why the distinction
always in Nirvana??)
I currently do this by manually tagging with an 'actionable'
tag, so every time i go to 'next' i click on that tag - but with
the various bugs with tag filters getting unselected on certain
actions it gets annoying.
As people keep saying, make it like Today works, that's all we
NEED, the automation and fancy sequential/parallel etc can come
GTD may have started on paper, but you would have a list for a
project, and then create a next actions list from all your project
lists - picking off all the actionable tasks.
GTD is simple and outlined in DA’s book and his website
(GTD Connect). The challenge is implementation in our diverse work
styles. It seems that a lot of people have preconceived notions
about GTD rules. I’d recommend watching GTD tutorial videos
at DA’s website.
I think Proximo is a GTD blackbelt. He is super efficient with
weekly review and Processing, i.e., defining
project/task/outcome/na and tagging with appropriate contexts. A
lot of people (including me) are GTD students that have ended up
with 100+ tasks in the NA and Someday lists. It’s a common
problem talked in detail by DA and his coaches. One quick solution
is to subdivide your list (e.g., next action):
TODAY: Focus today or this week
NEXT ACTION: Focus this month
UPCOMING (or NEXT UP OR LATER): Focus next month
Note, today and upcoming are sub-buckets to make reviewing your
na list easier. All are actionable now.
The current LATER implementation in Nirvana violates the widely
accepted GTD methodology. We either remove the new bucket (LATER)
or make it a sub-bucket of Action (UPCOMING?), similar to TODAY.
Either implementation works for me because Nirvana should be a
‘tool of choice’ for all (novice or black belt)
I just want to clarify that I don't have any hard feelings.
Nirvana's development just takes a direction that I personally
don't like. To me it seems to emulate task management like you
would do it on paper - manually dragging little tasks between
lists, with a little searching and filtering added, though. But
that's not what I bought a computer for.
As I said before, I manage my tasks during my reviews. That's
the time to define projects, task dependencies, tags, energy and
time criteria, deadlines, due dates etc. During the day, I
do. And I want Nirvana to show me what I can do. I don't
want to have to remember what tasks depend on each other when I go
over my list of next steps. Currently, Nirvana provides no way to
define such dependencies and that's why it's of no use to me.
@martin -- it feels like you are jumping to conclusions as to
what may or may not get implemented. @elbert's statements have all
referenced "thinking out loud", "want to hear what others think"...
he has distinguished that some of his comments are about what he
does personally and may or may not influence the product.
I would recommend you stay engaged and continue to make your
points made, you help add to the overall direction of a great
if that's how you define sequential, then I agree. When I
started using Nirvana (having come from Things) I was excited to
see that I could just drag a project's subtask into Next and have
it appear in a single list with all my other NAs - or so I thought!
:) It wasn't until my next weekly review that I noticed that they
had simply become disassociated from their respective projects.
I also agree that, while there were some great ideas in the
various Unified Next List threads, I think even the simplest
solution - being able to drag subtasks into Next without having
them lose the association to the project, just as is the case with
Today - would be a huge improvement. That's one small step for the
devs, one giant leap for the "unified next listers". :)
Now to the suggested calendar feature and why I like it. Before
I started following the GTD method, I used to plan the upcoming
week on Sunday and set due dates for everything I planned to
accomplish that week. The problem was that I ended up constantly
having to set new due dates as it turned out that I didn't get
things done the way I had planned. One reason why GTD has made my
planning and organizing simpler is because I don't have to set due
dates anymore (unless a task is really due) which saves me time
during my weekly and daily reviews (and therefore makes it more
likely that I'll acutally do them). And I can skip the daily review
for a few days and still not end up with a huge Today list. That's
why a Calendar feature that allows me to do this type of planning
sounds counterproductive at first.
However, I think there are good reasons for including this feature,
some of which Elbert has already mentioned.
I'd have a way to view all tasks with a due or scheduled date in
one place, nicely organized by weekday. Just last week someone
asked me if I could do a presentation on a certain day, I looked in
my calendar, saw that I had no appointments and said yes. A day
later I realized that, while I didn't have an appointment, there
was a project that was due the day after the presentation. I just
hadn't remembered to check for tasks with due dates. So I agree,
having a place where I can look at my commitments (in the sense
that I've committed to finish or start a task on a certain day)
helps me know if I can commit to new tasks/projects. Of course I
could just go through my Next and my Scheduled list but this would
I also like the idea of being able to associate a task with a
certain day without having to set a due or a scheduled date. For
one, as I've mentioned in another thread, I like to sit down after
work and plan my evening and my next day. With this feature I could
just drag a few tasks on Monday evening on to Tuesday and I'd have
Tuesday's Today list ready without having the tasks show up in
Monday's Today list. While one could argue that I could just put
next day's tasks at the bottom of today's Today list, there are
three simple reasons why I prefer the „Calendar
feature“-way. I don't like having the next day's tasks
clutter my view of the things that remain to do for today (even if
they're seperated by order or even a „separator“-task),
I like seeing my list getting smaller (gives me such a sense of
accomplishment :)) and if I want to set the
yet-to-be-released-iPhone app's badge to display the number of
tasks in my Today list, the number would be misleading once I've
done my daily review.
And last but not least, the Calendar feature would be very
conventient at work. I'm part of a team whose members have never
heard of GTD (and don't care to) and who use a simple weekly paper
calendar for planning. Every Friday we sit down together to plan
the next week, which means that we go through every day of the week
and decide what needs to be done on a specific day and
what team members think should be done on a specific day.
At the end of the meeting I have a list sorted by days with tasks
that are planned for certain days of the week. This is obviously
not according to the GTD workflow but I can't change it. After the
meeting I then type in all the tasks into Nirvana. I assign due
dates to the "must do" tasks. But what should I do with the
"should" do tasks? I don't want to assign due dates to those as
well, because they're not due, they're just planned for a specific
day. I also don't want to use Scheduled for these tasks because
they'll disappear from Next and I could start them earlier if
things move along faster (so they don't really belong into
Scheduled). I guess I could tag them with "monday", "tuesday" and
so forth. But then I'd have to tag the due tasks with the same tags
to get a good view of what there is to do on a given day and I'd
have to change the tag if I don't do it on the day it was planned.
Suddenly I'm doing the same thing again that I was glad to leave
behind thanks to GTD. So because I want to avoid this, I just keep
two lists, the one which tells me what my colleagues would like me
to do on a certain day and my Next list in Nirvana. But that's not
the ideal solution either. So, to make a long story short, the
Calendar feature would make my life easier.
One last thought: Maybe a feature like „Nirvana
Labs“ (like Google Labs) would be a good idea. That way users
could just acitvate or deactivate features that they don't want to
@All - Wow this is incredibly good dialog and I’m glad
Nirvana is letting us voice our opinions and seems to be taking our
feedback into account.
@Elbert It would be great to have you paraphrase the new
direction you are going to take based on all this great feedback as
you (re)design the follow-up to this release.
For the record, my preference is as follows. One Next Action
list. Actions within projects should have the ability to be marked
as “actionable”. Nirvana should default to marking the
top action in a project as “actionable”. (Which could
be turned off in preferences)
The next action list should then have all the existing methods
of filtering. Plus it should add the ability to easily filter out
project tasks that are not currently actionable.
That’s my .02
Thanks again to the Nirvana team for working so hard on this
I have been staying quiet just to read others thoughts. I want
to thank everyone for the feedback and opinions shared here. No
matter how you look at it, it's beneficial in many ways.
I want to thank Elbert and the Nirvana development team for
their continued interest in the user base.
I can't really say much more from my perspective. I don't know
why GTD is so simple for me to understand and successfully
implement. This does not mean I can't learn new things or improve
in different areas, but I just have a hard time figuring out why
something so simple can cause so much confusion between different
people. I believe GTD can work for just about any profession while
maintaining it's simplicity.
I am not sure what direction Nirvana will take moving forward,
but it's obvious from this post that the direction it takes will
not please everyone. There are several schools of thought or at
least two major rules of thought.
I am sure most people on here know that I like to keep things
simple and GTD just happens to be very simple to understand and
implement, at least for me.
Now it's time to sit back and see what happens. I have high
hopes for a GTD app. that keeps the core of GTD simple and
functional. Regardless of the direction taken, GTD will continue to
be simple in my mind and I will always gravitate to the app. that
does it right.
When you are in a huddle, you call the play that makes sense at
that time. You don't plan for what may happen next or decide what
you will do on the 3rd down.
You look at your field position, try to anticipate the move of
the defense and you make the appropriate call for that given
situation. You need to be ready for changes that may take place at
any time but you are ready with your audibles (context, time &
OK, so maybe it's not the best analogy in the world, but my
point is that I make the right plays for the given moment. Just
like GTD. :-)
This is why the Later, Next Week, Upcoming concept just makes no
sense to me. I am not saying it makes no sense to everyone, but
just speaking for myself. :-)
@zen - this is where i think we're going. probably a preference
for Someday, with the option to split it into Someday-Later and
Someday-Maybe, or just a single Someday as many prefer. There are
enough people who have voiced a strong desire to keep some form of
Later, and I think this is the best compromise. We will set it up
so that all new accounts will default to the single Someday
preference to keep in line with the GTD purists.