Using Nirvana is pretty straight-forward, but if you come across a term or phrase that’s not clear, you can find the definition here.


An actionable item which is either standalone or part of a project. Also referred to as a task.

Action-related attributes

Properties which can be used to filter actions and projects within a list.

Whereas tags can be applied to all items, attributes can only be applied to actions and projects. There are 3 types of attributes:

  • Time required : Estimate used to determine if you currently have the time necessary to complete the action(s).
  • Energy required : Projection used to determine if you currently have the energy necessary to complete the action(s).
  • Due date : When set, adds a label reflecting the due date and focuses the item once it arrives.

Active / Inactive

An active item is ready to be acted on. An inactive item is not. This is determined by the item's action state and its place in a project.

  • An active task has a Next state; a project an Active state. You can set this in the item details, but it will also happen if the scheduled date arrives. All other states are inactive.
  • In sequential projects, the first task must be completed for the next one to become active. All other tasks are inactive.
  • Project tasks must exist within active projects or they are considered inactive, regardless of their state.


Sometimes referred to as subtasks, checklists allow you to add sub-steps within a note. Each item is preceded by a clickable checkbox so that you can keep track of what you've accomplished.

Keep in mind that checklists are designed for packing lists, grocery lists, and the like. If your checklist items are more involved, you may want to learn about projects.


A page that allows you to access your plan, profile, and account settings. You can also export your data and change your focus email frequency from the dashboard.

To access it, go to

Due date

The date by which you intend to complete an action. Due dates can be added to items in the same way as other attributes.

Actions with a due date stay in in their original list (unless they’re also given a scheduled date). Once the due date arrives, they get a Focus star, and will continue to show their due date until completed.

If you need a boost to get started, you can find out more about due dates and adding attributes.

Email to Inbox

A feature which lets you add new items to your Nirvana Inbox by sending an email to the personal inbox address assigned to your account.

Learn how to make the most of Email to Inbox.


Filtering allows you to narrow your list(s) to items containing specific tags or attributes.

There are 2 types of filtering available in Nirvana:

  • Global area filtering: This allows you to change your whole view so that the entire app, except for the Inbox, shows items specific to a chosen area.
  • On-the-fly filtering: Set within a list, this displays only items containing your selected tag(s) and/or attribute(s) until you view a new list or clear these filters.

Explore more information about filtering.


Focusing items gives them a star and makes them appear in the Focus list. Items can be manually focused as you choose or automatically focused on their scheduled or due date.

Take a look at these articles to learn how to focus items and to learn about the available views for a Focus list.


Sections within a list view used to separate items based on their state, type, scheduled date, or completion status.

An example is:

  • Done group: Present in most lists, this is a group of actions or projects which have been completed, but have not yet moved to the Logbook.


A catch-all term for anything created in Nirvana. It could be a project, a reference list, a reference item, or an action.

Related to items:

  • Item counts: The number of items associated with a particular list. This is displayed next to the name of your chosen lists in the side navigation menu.
  • Item properties: The information assigned to the item for organization purposes. These properties include: tags, state, and action-related attributes (time, energy, and due date).


A collection of items that have been filtered based on specific criteria such as state, tag, project, or search term.

Some examples include:

  • Projects list: A collection of projects.
  • References list: A collection of reference lists.
  • Focus list: A collection of items that have been manually or automatically focused.
  • Action lists: Collections of items that have been filtered by state. Action lists include:
    • Next: A list for actions that are to be done soon, but don’t necessarily need the Focus flag.
    • Later: Not technically part of GTD®, this optional list serves as a middle ground between Next and Someday.
    • Waiting: A list for actions that have been delegated to others.
    • Scheduled: A list for actions that have been deferred until a specified date.
    • Someday: A list for actions that you intend to do. Eventually.

For more information about organizing your items into lists, take a look at our Quick Start guide.


A list which temporarily contains completed and collected actions.

Learn more about the Logbook in this article.

Next list

A list for actions that are to be done soon, but don't necessarily need the Focus flag.

The list contains actions that have been manually added, those which come next in your active projects, and those automatically added based on due or scheduled date.

Take a look at this article to learn more about the views available for the Next list.

Personal inbox address

For use with email to inbox. Emails sent to this unique address will be processed and added to your Nirvana inbox.

Learn how to use your personal inbox address in this article.


A collection of actions grouped together for the purpose of achieving a specific larger goal.

Related to projects:

  • Project behaviour: The way in which a project’s actions are intended to be completed. This affects how project actions appear in the Next list views. There are 2 types of project behaviour available in Nirvana:
    • Parallel: The actions are meant to be completed in any order.
    • Sequential: The first action is intended to be completed before the second, and so on.

Rapid Entry

A method for creating items in the web app using only the keyboard.

Take a look at this article for more information about how to use Rapid Entry.

Recurring task

An action scheduled to be duplicated and focused at a specific interval of days, months, or years. This feature is available to Nirvana Pro users.

Reference item

A non-actionable item which has the ability to be focused, usually containing notes and tags. A reference item lacks action-related attributes such as state, time, energy, and due date.

Related to reference items:

  • Reference list: A collection of reference items.
  • References list: The collection of reference lists.


Scheduled actions are those you intend to do on a future date. When the scheduled start date arrives, the action is focused and moved from the Scheduled list to the Next list.

Find out how to schedule tasks in this article.

Standalone Action

An action which does not belong to any project.


Marks if an action or project is active, deferred, or waiting. The state determines whether the item is seen in the Next, Scheduled, Later, Someday, or Waiting list.


A text-based marker you can add to items for the purpose of filtering your lists.

There are 3 types of tags used in Nirvana:

  • Labels: These are used within lists or search results to narrow down the displayed results. When you filter by label, you narrow down the items shown until you switch lists. Once you switch, the filters will be reset.

    Good to know: In the mobile app, these are also referred to as Generic Tags.

  • Contacts: These are similar to labels except that they can also be used to indicate who should take action on a Waiting-for task.
  • Areas: These are unique in that they allow you to change your whole view. When you filter by area (global filtering), the entire app (with some exceptions) will only show items specific to your chosen area.

Unassigned item

An item without any area tags assigned.


The way your items are seen within your lists. Some examples include alphabetic vs manual ordering, group by project, and sequential next order.

Learn how to change your view in this article.