Setting up GTD on Dynalist

"Probably the most universal how-to question for GTD neophytes is this: How do I keep track of all the things that you’re recommending I keep out of my head? What’s the best tool? The answer is pretty simple: however you most effectively can create and review lists.

You will need a good filing system, an inbox and a ubiquitous capture tool, a box for stuff to read, and maybe a tickler file; but for the most part, all you need are lists. But you’ll need several. And they need to be complete. And you’ll need a place to keep them." - David Allen

This is my inspiration to use Dynalist for managing my life and work. How are you implementing GTD with Dynalist and what success are you experiencing with it?


I’m not very familiar with GTD – what’s the difference between “a good filing system” and “a ubiquitous capture tool”?

What is GTD:

The difference between a good filing system and a ubiquitous capture tool is small but important.

A good filing system can apply to your file cabinet, your bank statements, or your computer’s filing setup.

A ubiquitous capture tool is everywhere & all the time, allowing you to capture, in one place, everything that needs to be captured in your life; from contacts to ideas, from to do’s to projects. From there it gets sorted into GTD’s stucture.


@Michael_Potter, for some inspiration, compare my Evernote GTD post @

Between folders, documents, and tags, Dynalist certainly has you covered in every which way. Can make a great GTD tool.

Wokflowy has been around a bit longer and so a few more tutorials exists for it. This one is list based, while this one is a bit more tag based.


For the GTD faithful, Dynalist offers some really important tools for capturing information anywhere we are (desktop and mobile).

The simplicity it offers for daily and weekly review of our lists is outstanding. I’ve purchased 95% of the best productivity apps and have come to love and prefer Dynalist’s power and ease of use (I’m also a recent Convert from the WorkFlowy camp).


Wait until we get email to add item & browser capture extension! :smiley:


I spent some time on theTrello page voting. So cool to use that as a group to influence development!


I came to Dynalist from Ever Note where I implemented GTD using a big of David Allen’s own recipe, a bit of The Secret Weapon and a bit of my own.

In Dynalist what I do is

  • use Documents as context, like Home, Work, Errand, Phone, Online
    • an important one is the Inbox document where I collect everything, I have a shortcut on my phone’s home screen
  • use hash-tags as projects, like Finance, Maintenance, Travel, Car, Parenting
  • use colours as priority, 1 for now, 2 for next, 3 for soon, 4 for someday, 5 for scheduled, and 6 for waiting
  • use at-tags as people, though I don’t really do this much

And finally I used global searches to pull in all the items for a given project (i.e.: hash-tag) or priority (i.e.: colour label). Often with the -is:completed operator so I’m only looking at things I need to do.


Thanks for your ideas here. i’ve been using tags as contexts and I think your idea is better as it get tedious to remember to tag each item I want to search for.

[quote=“Schultzter, post:8, topic:370, full:true”]

  • use Documents as context, like Home, Work, Errand, Phone, Online
    • an important one is the Inbox document where I collect everything, I have a shortcut on my phone’s home screen
  • use hash-tags as projects, like Finance, Maintenance, Travel, Car, Parenting
  • use colours as priority, 1 for now, 2 for next, 3 for soon, 4 for someday, 5 for scheduled, and 6 for waiting
  • use at-tags as people, though I don’t really do this much[/quote]

Are you able to search by colors? If not, I’m curious if you are just manually scanning for priority items in each of your documents (contexts)?

[quote=“Schultzter, post:8, topic:370, full:true”]

  • use colours as priority, 1 for now, 2 for next, 3 for soon, 4 for someday, 5 for scheduled, and 6 for waiting [/quote]

Yeah you can search by colors. Checkout the search tips below the search bar next time you search.

1 Like

I don’t think it’s possible to search for no tags, i.e.: the absence of any tag. But it would be nice!!! I have rule to make sure every item is tagged with a project before it moves from the Inbox to another context (Document).


Thanks for the input here. I’ll try to remember to tag things like I did before.

One side issue I noticed this weekend was a little friction in my process now that I’ve separated my lists and created contexts using documents. I miss having them all in one document for easy searches but like the idea of the separation too.

For me, the big win in using Dynalist is the fast, efficient access to my lists. Making that process as “low drag” as possible makes me want to use it all day long. That’s what I’ll use to decide if documents or hash tags will be used for contexts.

Appreciate your input!

1 Like

I’ve been using saved searches for my lists. You can search using date, tags, etc., then bookmark the search and rename the bookmark to something meaningful.

So, I have bookmarks like “Today High Energy” and that kind of thing, which makes it easy to filter down to just what I’m looking for.

It’s just another layer for implementing GTD.


Yep i have same approach, here some saved search Bookmarks

  • Inbox special document for BrainDump my thoughts
  • OverDue within: -12m until: -1d -is:completed
  • Today Actions until:today -is:completed
  • Next Week within:1w -has:completed
  • Next Month within:1m -has:completed
  • Action with Dates has:date -is:completed



I’ve placed all my projects back into a single document after separating them into individual documents by context. For my experience, I didn’t like the division because of the way I use tags to search for things.

It’s amazing how much more I enjoy Dynalist when using tags.


Hi, I just responded to a similar topic of yours on project setup here which is relevant: How Do You Setup Your Projects in Dynalist?

The only things I would add to that post for your more general question is:

  • Obviously I have an inbox
  • I have a calendar in dynalist which also functions as Allen’s tickler file - the days have a series of tags like #tue #d24 #apr #2017 – this is better than a single tag system as you can have a cloud of tags at the top of your calendar with all the days of the week, month, months and years, and can click to filter as you like (this is very powerful) - these also allow you to move items to certain days very easily e.g. by typing #tue into the ‘move’ box all the tuesdays come up - Nested under each day are the hours of the day in bullet form so that events can be nested un the appropriate time (I also give events a due time with dyanlist’s in built feature so they show up on my google calendar)
  • I have an operations centre, which has my current day, a big cloud of tags / links for all my major projects and searches as well as my daily / weekly checklists, and my inbox
  • Each day I move my calendar entry for that day to my operations document - this day of course has my fixed events on it / any tickler things I’ve sent there over time - I then build on this throughout the day (e.g. I roughly plan my tasks first thing) and I also journal on top of it, recording various things that happen
  • At the end of the day I move any unresolved things to appropriate places and send that day to my @Past document

Why don’t you just shorthand it to something like “#W10A #30” for week 10, “A” for 2017 year (“B” for 2018), #30 for the day of the month. You could condense it maybe one letter more, but this is as optimized as dates get

I have originally thought of doing “#tues #d24 #apr #2017” to which I do still, but ONLY in my daily log list. All other tag notes use the other convention. the reason I don’t use this is because I have valuable real estate on my dynalist and looking at date tags everywhere is confusing

I put that in PROJECT TAGS, for the ALT3 code I mentioned earlier in the other phraseexpress post too
Since I don’t know how many shortcuts I will be needing, how many specific filters, etc

do you have a picture of what this looks like or the general document hierarchy before and after the day? just curious

Hi Vincent,

RE the day tags, I am sure your method is more efficient (it’s very interesting actually), but I like to be able to read them easily myself and my brain works on days of the week etc :slight_smile:

RE the project tags, yes there’s many ways this could be set up - I personally like having a single ‘Centre’ which I feel like is my ‘home’ with dynalist - this is just a personal psychological preference

RE the calendar, my calendar looks a bit like this (Any event or day-defining task either gets a dynalist time stamp or an @day tag) - I almost always view my calendar in this search mode you can see - this means I can send unimportant tasks to my days (acting like a tickler file) without this view getting cluttered - this shows only the ‘hard landscape’ of my future, as Allen would put it - this is what allows it to be both calendar and tickler file simultaneously. (Ps. the calendar still has some hangovers from workflowy (e.g. the #blue thing) which I haven’t sorted out yet - I will obviously switch this to a dynalist color search when I get a chance. the @pp-devon tag is a project tag (a visit to Devon) - when I search my whole account for this tag it will bring up the project notes / tasks section for that project as well as those tagged days on my calendar.

Then I bring it over to Operations which looks a bit like this (this is my current day - I have been out and about on my phone today so it is almost completely bare - this whole system is mostly for when working at my computer in the office or at home) - when I do have that kind of day the times of the day would be full of completed pomodoro’s / tasks I’ve done etc.

Once the ‘day’ comes over, I obviously check my tasks by urgency or context and make a (rough) plan for the day - as I move through the day I either follow or modify this as appropriate and ‘complete’ the previous portion - I also sometimes journal throughout the day if interesting things happen or if I want to track e.g. exercise.

And finally it goes to the past which just looks like this (I try to write a brief journal sentence on each day but am not too consistent with this) - This reminds me of a benefit of my tagging structure actually (and unlike the one you suggested) - You can see the tag cloud at the top - this format allows me to really easily and quickly filter for the day I want if I’m searching for something - If I’m trying to remember when something happened and tags fail me, I often maybe have a hunch it was a tuesday, or the 14th of something, or some time in may … so I find this helps me find what I want really quickly (which single, integrated tags cannot achieve)

Best wishes,


1 Like

Why is there day tags everywhere up top? Are those things you tagged this week? (am not familiar with the built-in date tag)

Also, I don’t have the right personality type to write down times (2-3PM, 3PM-4PM)throughout the day, I would get go crazy looking at so many items too, I’m trying to shy away from too many nested bulletpoint levels. It is a problem I have though, that my notes aren’t capturing exact times, and some things I only capture by weeks only atm (e.g. finished task)s

But if it works for you that’s what counts :slight_smile:

Also, I have taken your suggestion to seperate a personal and work to-do list. It has made my list more customizable so I can focus on work, or personal, whenever I so choose (still all in one list). Subsequently I can add project folders here and whatever I want as an “inbox” sort of “waterfall-ish type of project management approach”


this is a semi-downside I have, for the tag cloud thing. It wouldn’t really matter a lot by the day, but by the week it can be a pain.

When I do this

Also, with integrated tags for the daily notes:


I normally summarize the “✪✪ TAG : Notes below are this, see tag” or the last item I made in the list / summary

When I search through the list ,it isn’t such a big deal either. Also, I find that I rarely ever look through anything specific in my previous notes, just jotting it down makes it easier to remember. So what happens is per week, I read all notes made that week and it doesn’t take too long either. Its also another reason I don’t keep things like thesis’s / fictionbook writing here, it would pollute my notes too much, I seperate it into, screenshot things I added, and reference back to

Also, there’s one important thing if anything when it comes to notetaking, at least for me. My conventions and format must be 100% portable. I try to shy away from built-in notetaking systems, if I can help it. Its one reason I don’t like things like evernote or onenote, I don’t really have an exportable way to grab images in context to text I write (also, they don’;t support gifs well either). I like having full control of my data. Basically, if I cannot parse the data in anyway, shape or form using pythonscripts or excelVBA, its not really portable.

Same with uploads, its still an immature tech they have for upload management. I can’t just export and move around images and PDFs with ease. I utilize shareX + amazonS3/imgur for this.

Also, suggestion for jobsearching. Wouldn’t googlesheets be easier to handle this approach? Some employers take ages to respond, so I figured having a command-center for just googlespreadsheets would be more beneficial? If you could isolate those notes ahead of time wouldn’t it be a good idea?

I try to use different apps for different reason, is just my thought organizer / project management-ish system