Update Aug 03, 2007: I’ve stopped using my Excel sheet for GTD about 3 months ago as I’m using a PDA with ListPro as the core of my GTD system at the moment. I have been playing around with quite a few GTD tools, but none of them has satisfied all of these requirements. The dashboard is used to get a quick overview of how many actions and projects are active or finished. Some more details about adding a new action: you simply type a description of the action, optionally select a project from the list, optionally select a context from the list and optionally enter a due date for this action. Actually, with some Excel magic, I have been able to construct dynamic pull-down lists for projects and contexts. Note how finished next actions (tasks, if you will) are automatically greyed out and waiting for actions are automatically highlighted. Actions can be manipulated directly on this sheet by using the 3 buttons in the upper-right corner of the screen: Finish Action(s), Unfinish Action(s) and Mark deleted.
Just like the list of next actions, the list of projects can be filtered and sorted by using standard Excel tools. Perhaps the most important requirement that I put on any GTD system (which, perhaps, is why many of them are not suitable for me) is the ability to flawlessly sync the next actions, projects, et cetera to paper. By simply adjusting the font size and page margins it is very easy to make Excel print this aggregated list into a PDF with a maximum of 8 pages (which is the maximum allowed for a pocketmod). You are now one step away from taking all of the information from the Excel GTD system and carry it with you on a single sheet of paper, folded into a small booklet (pocketmod).
Printing and folding this single sheet of paper will actually allow you to carry an up-to-date, simple to use, lightweight, paper-based GTD system with you in your pocket! To me, Excel has proved to be a valuable tool for implementing a GTD system that is actually easy and fun to use, does exactly what I want it to do (since I created it! It only uses a small amount of VBA, the rest is built upon standard Excel formulas, though some are a bit complex.
It does have a couple things that could be improved to be more GTD-friendly, but it’s also under very active development, so I am suggesting these as I go along. Could you point out the right links that will help us create Excel VBA code, Dynamic lists, etc, so that we can also learn this stuff.
The point was to show my GTD setup as I currently use it and to inspire other GTD enthusiasts. On the other hand, I do appreciate all the positive feedback I am getting about using Excel for GTD.
Let me start by saying that I do appreciate your screenshots of your Excel implementation of GTD.
Shortly after discovering GTD and having tried a million different digital GTD solutions (and not liking a single one of them), I invested a couple of weeks of my time to create a very preliminary, very unfinished but highly customized Excel sheet for implementing GTD. The thought of sharing this Excel sheet didn’t arise until after reading all the comments on my blog.
Have just started GTD and am currently using totally paper based system which can be awkward.
To get a look at the excel concepts rather than waiting for a perfect version, would still be a great help. Seems like the answer for me, I need a GTD system I can use on work machines, without breaking rules on installing new software, I would love to use this.


Once I learned about this system, and with some help and advice from others, I decided to focus on creating a schedule for myself based on GTD. To address of this, I there are 4 major components to my personalized GTD system I am putting into place initially. As a kind of experiment to make my GTD system ever more simple (while maintaining flexibility and portability) I have used Ilium Software ListPro for the last couple of weeks as a single tool for implementing GTD. Read on to find out how I am trying to get back to the basics of Getting Things Done… GTD is all lists after all! First of all, I probably could have used any other task list program for Windows Mobile out there.
Using ListPro on my PDA is an attempt (or experiment) to make my GTD system even more simple, while maintaining flexibility and portability.
Next actions can easily be marked complete, marked with a specific color (highlight), deleted, moved, copied and so on. A combination of filtering and sorting ensures you always have the view of your next actions list that is most appropriate according to your situation. The reason why I didn’t use Listpro (a GREAT program and company BTW) was because I am so email-centric. As far as this template goes, there are some good suggestions I can incorporate, like adding Project and Due Date fields to my NA list.
Hello, please excuse me but I have used the same cellphone for 6 years and am in the dark ages. It also shows the oldest and newest 5 actions (this doesn’t work properly yet and I am starting to doubt the usefulness of this information anyway).
Using standard Excel tools, like autofiltering and sorting, it is very easy and convenient to show e.g.
Just select any number of actions and click one of the buttons to perform the corresponding operation.
Projects can be (un)finished or marked deleted similarly to next actions by selecting one or more projects from the list and clicking the appropriate button. This makes it easier to find the corresponding project in the numbered list in my pocketmod.
I create the PDF straight from Excel by using PDFCreator, but other solutions are readily available. My dream would be to make a grand unified spreadsheet that works in Excel, Google Spreadsheets and OpenOffice to name a few.
If I am ever going to release a decent version of the Excel GTD system to the general public, it is definitely going to be announced on this GTD blog.
I refer to all the comments above about when, how or why the Excel file will ever be available for download. I also feel reluctant to release something in a hurry right now without having a chance to think about future development and other future plans I may have with this Excel system or even variations of my own online or offline GTD system (I am a former (web) programmer after all). There is even the possibility of releasing a free public version of the Excel system but with no support from me, and perhaps an advanced, commercial version with product support and documentation, and so on. The readers of my blog will be the first to know about my future plans with my Excel GTD system! I have managed to stay with my hybrid GTD system for several months now, implementing minor tweaks only.


But instead of a rigid list of strictly scheduled times like ones that hadn’t worked for me in the past, I am working with a schedule of Bucket Times. It was just wonderful listening to my local leaders speak to us young adults on the topics that were of the greatest importance to us.
Frequent readers of this blog know that I am not particularly fond of online GTD applications. Ignore the Flag field and highlight colors if you really require a straightforward GTD next action list. These are actually pull-down lists because Projects and Contexts are defined as categories in ListPro. I’m not showing it here because it is really nothing more than a simple list with only one column. I try not to use this flag at all because GTD uses different criteria for selecting a next action. I am using the main GTD template as the core of my GTD setup and I have created a lot of other simple lists for enumerating items.
Using a combination of built-in Excel formulas and my own custom made VBA code, I have implemented a basic GTD system for myself.
I am trying to keep the GTD Index strictly GTD related and I’m therefore hesitant to add any kind of general task manager unless they explicitly support the GTD methodology. I dont know much about about vba, so i put everything in one single sheet & playing with some excel data features.
They also know that my current GTD setup consists of Excel in combination with a PocketMod.
This Excel sheet provides the flexibility I require of my GTD system (sort, filter, print, et cetera). I also create many other lists in ListPro that are directly or indirectly connected to GTD. These contain items like successful outcome, (future) next actions, brainstorm output, etc.
Instead of conforming my ideas to other GTD tools, I have created my own GTD tool that conforms to my own ideas. That’s like a band showing photos of their concerts, rehearsal space, the console they used to record the tracks and then NO AUDIO FILES TO LISTEN TO. I am trying to stay with the basic list structure with as less detail as possible to keep things simple. I think there is anothere GTD template at the official Ilium ListPro website, maybe you can check it out. Printing a list of next actions is sometimes convenient if you do not want to take your PDA with you.
Even though I would have liked to see a little bit more flexibility regarding print options in the desktop version of ListPro, I am still satisfied with the resulting list on paper. Then you can go and see your entire waiting for list without it overwhelming your NA’s.




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