Do you have your personal GTD Checklists ready?

Checklists has great power in the productivity world. Nearly every productivity book have their own lists and forms for you to work from. But have you created your own GTD Wiki? I wanted to gather up all of my GTD checklists into one place and create my own GTD workflow. Let’s see how.

I took much inspiration from David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. But it is only a set of guidelines for you to follow. Each one of us has a unique set of circumstances that would make it difficult for one of the productivity authors to cover every issue that arises from our daily lives. Thus we start to take bits and pieces from other productivity systems to fill in the gaps where one methodology fails but another one can compensate. We try many productivity tips discovered through tweets, blog posts, Discourse forums, and books. We create our own Frankenstein workflow with bandages and duct tape. I’ve been guilty of this myself. I had a DEVONthink database full of tips and tricks, checklists, PDF forms, calendars, and ideas. Some worked. Some didn’t. Some pieces fit like a well-worn glove. Others are discarded when I can’t find a place for it.

This was the journey I took. Soon enough, I had way too many tips scattered in books, blog posts, and half-forgotten OmniOutliner documents. I had a junk drawer full of articles and posts saved in haphazard fashion. Finally, I took a hard look at my productivity workflow. I stripped everything and started from the beginning once again when my systems buckled under the strain of too many competing hacks. I took a basic shell of my GTD workflow and made a checklist of the different workflows. I took inspiration from David Allen’s book “Making It All Work” (MIAW)

Initially, I referred to the MIAW appendices whenever I needed to go through a workflow. But it didn’t feel “mine.” I decided to recreate the appendices in Apple Numbers and customized it to my workflow.

Truthfully, any app can hold your checklists. Find an app that you’re comfortable with. Just make sure that all the checklists are inside one app. Don’t have checklists in multiple apps.

Take time to create your own workflow. As life changes, adjust each sheet as needed. I do a quarterly checkup to see if I am skipping certain steps. I’ll delete those or try to change it to reflect how I perform a workflow. Add new steps as needed when your situation changes.

When I start my End-of-The-Day Daily Review, I go to my Daily Review sheet. I visit the Weekly Review sheet when I am in need of a weekly review. I have the Incompletion Trigger Lists when I need to do a mind sweep to completely empty my head.

My GTD checklist on my Mac

I can open the Numbers spreadsheet on my Mac and refer to it when I need to perform a workflow.


My GTD checklist on my iPhone

Sometimes I’ll open it on my iPhone and refer to it while I’m working on my Mac. This is helpful when I have a smaller screen like the MacBook 12”. I place my iPhone next to my computer and refer my checklist on the phone.


My GTD checklist on my iPad

I can also open my checklist on my iPad in a slideover panel. When I need to look at my checklist, I swipe from the right side of my iPad to show Numbers in the slideover panel. I can swipe away the slideover panel to hide it once again.

My GTD checklist in my notebook

The easiest way to gain access to your checklist is to just print it out and put it in a small binder. I have a Staples Discbound notebook that holds my notes and checklists in one convenient place. I don’t need to launch Apple Numbers to get to my checklists. It’s in my notebook and ready to use.

I can use either a Franklin-Covey Planner, a Discbound notebook, or any 3-ring binder to hold my checklists. There’s something magical about seeing a notebook with my checklists in physical form. I can flip through the pages easily if I need to switch between different checklists.

Keeping a checklist in an app that is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac ensures that I have easy access to them at all times. Keeping a physical notebook with the checklists also makes it a visible reminder that I have everything I need wherever I am.

🤔 Have you started your own GTD wiki yet? Invest a little time now in documenting your workflows. This will speed up workflows such as daily planning, creating projects, weekly review, and performing a mind sweep. Having a checklist on my Mac, iPhone, iPad, or notebook will speed up the GTD process. Customize the checklists to make it your own. Over time, the checklists will become automatic and you’ll be cycling through life quickly. You can finally create a cohesive GTD workflow and creating your own “Getting Things Done” book that works you.

I hope you’ll share some of your own results or comments about having one place for all your checklists has served you.

I share with you my Numbers GTD checklist. Convert it to another app such as OmniOutliner, Microsoft Word, Apple Notes, a mind map, or even a text file.

My personal GTD Checklist is actually heavily modified from the one I am providing in the link below. But this was the foundation of what I started off with. Make these checklists yours. Change it to fit your needs.


042: Conducting an Annual Review

An annual review is a great time to get a big-picture view of your life and the upcoming year. In this episode, Justin walks you through his process of conducting an annual review.


041: Embracing Absence

It’s better to fill our days with space to process than fill space with stuff to process.


Jumping to a Higher Horizon of Focus in the Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Reviews

The GTD Review is the glue that keeps my system together. But it’s often a tough habit to adopt. I’ve been able to get a daily review going which takes care of my day-to-day needs. It took care of today’s fire and look ahead to tomorrow’s schedule But it didn’t cover anything past tomorrow. My daily reviews weren’t giving me a sense of direction and progress towards my goals.

I was finally ready to up my game and move to the Higher Horizons of Focus. I started my Daily Review in get control of my day. Next, I worked on improving my Weekly Review, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Review to move my path towards a purpose-filled life.

My Daily Review

My daily review currently includes:

  1. Clearing the inboxes in various apps and the physical in-tray.
  2. Reviewing any currently active (not someday/maybe) projects that I am working on this week.
  3. Reviewing the calendar to see tomorrow’s schedule.
  4. Reviewing any agenda items and waiting-for’s.
  5. Review any completed tasks and create followup tasks if needed.
  6. Planning tomorrow’s to-do list by choosing 1 Big Rock project and 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks).
  7. Journal any new thoughts, ideas, and how the day went. I record victories and things to work on.

To get to the next Kung Fu belt level, I had to construct my own GTD Weekly Review. The official GTD Weekly Review is a good starting point and is available here.

My Weekly Review

My current Weekly Review includes:

  1. Planning the Big Rock projects for next week.
  2. Look at next week’s calendar for any commitments.
  3. Review last week’s journal entries to mine for ideas and new projects.

I need to stay on top of my projects and checklists on a weekly basis. I plan my projects for the next week by balancing my calendar events with the various projects I want to work on.

Planning My Big Rocks for next week

I plot my days with the Daily Review to take care of the daily emergencies and barrage of workload coming my way. The Weekly Review is focused on specific goals for the week. These goals take form in the various active projects and Someday projects that fill up my task manager. I review all of my projects and choose three to six Big Rock projects to focus on.

Review next week’s calendar

It helps to plan ahead. I look at next week’s entries to see what lies ahead. I might have to start a new project or activate a project ahead of time to prepare for any events that will happen soon.

Mining for new project ideas in my journal

I like to review the past week’s journal entries to get a feel for how my week went. Oftentimes, I get new project ideas or suggestions on how to improve a current workflow or look for a change in mindset.

Monthly Review

I haven’t quite fleshed this review yet. I don’t do it often enough to flesh my Monthly Review yet. But I do have a few steps in place.

  1. Curate my projects
  2. Curate my checklists

Curate my projects

I look at my current smorgasbord of projects and evaluate their place in my life. Some projects may have stalled out and needs a little reboot. I rewrite the task description or break the next actions down a bit further to kickstart it. Or the project’s importance has degraded over time. Maybe my enthusiasm for a project has waned a bit. I can either defer a project to a future date when I have more time and energy to work on it. Or I can delete it if I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and not gaining traction.

Curate my checklists

I have some checklists that are daily or weekly routines. They might need some fine-tuning to reduce any needless friction. I also evaluate checklists that have single one-off tasks. I may have forgotten to check off a task or I no longer need to do it if I ignored it for too long.

Quarterly Review

This is a new realm that I am about to jump into soon. I don’t have anything here just yet but I do have some ideas.

  1. Use the 12 Week Year to choose goals and projects for the quarter.
  2. Review current projects to see if I am hitting my monthly milestones. Recalibrate my projects if I need to catch up or I need to redefine the goals to hit.

Annual Review

This is the big vision board stage. I sit down with my wife and evaluate what we’d like to work on for the next 12 months. We set our general directions here and brainstorm for projects that can bring us closer to our goals. We establish monthly milestones and re-evaluate during the quarterly and monthly reviews.

Climbing the Ladder to reach New Horizons of Focus

Each review (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual) hits a different target.

The Annual Review sets out to plan my goals for the year. I create milestones and a vision of what I would like each quarter to look like.

The Monthly Review and Quarterly Review checks on my project statuses. Am I bogged down in a current project? Do I need to re-evaluate my workload and deactivate some projects so that other projects get started now? Can I delete or defer some projects that don’t contribute towards my current quarterly goals?

I use the Monthly Review to plan the next batch of tasks that will help me complete my Big Rock projects.

During the Weekly Review, I choose the small handful of Big Rocks to work on. I try to plan out time during the week to work on specific projects and ignore all the other projects waiting for me in my task manager. I squeeze these projects in between different calendar appointments and keep buffer time in the week to handle the daily onslaught of outside requests that come in via email, messaging, and walk-in customers.

The Daily Review is where I spend my time putting out the fires and try to bring make progress in a Big Rock that I want to work on today.

I’m slowly starting to master the different review levels. I had to take care of the Daily Review first. Master my day and then I can corral the week. When I can master the Weekly Review, I can step up to the Monthly Review and go upwards all the way to the Annual Review.

It wasn’t easy. I thought I could do the different review levels. But I found lost if I didn’t get the lower levels well thought out. I’m looking forward to fine-tuning my game. I have typically lived in the “now” and not worried too much about the future. But the more in control I have of “now”, the more I look a little further into the future. I’ve achieved yellow belt at the Weekly Review level. I can see the Monthly Review is within my reach and I’m practicing on it every month. I set my foundations so that I can get to the Quarterly Review and the Annual Review.

It’s the end of the year and I’m looking forward to having better vision with the different review levels. As a matter of fact, I’m printing out this post and using it as a checklist whenever I’m not sure what I’m doing during the different reviews.

Have you mastered your review game yet? Lay the foundations by creating your checklists for the Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Review? What do you need to review at these stages? Write them in a notebook and refer to it when you’re doing your next review!

Enjoy Life! Enjoy the Process! 👨‍🚀


040: Paper Recovery Mode

When your system needs catching up, do you fix the system or do the work?