An integrated GTDxEisenhower workflow in Todoist

How to use GTD and Eisenhower matrix together

An integrated GTDxEisenhower workflow in Todoist
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

After learning the GTD system and trying to implement it into my life, I was surprised to find no material on the internet which provided inspiration on how I could integrate the GTD system with the Eisenhower matrix system to leverage the benefits from both systems to suite my needs as a university student. This piece will provide a rationale for why I decided to spend time doing this and a short guide on my todoist setup which facilitates this integration.

The GTD system is fundamentally opposed to the urgency/importance units which are applied to tasks in the Eisenhower matrix. GTD tends to focus on a big picture, top-down view of tasks and uses “next action” items and situational items (e.g., on the bus) to encourage intentional and low friction progression towards a project. Whereas the Eisenhower matrix is much simpler and lower resolution. Eisenhower focuses on priority while GTD is not as fond of prioritising tasks. Despite these differences, using the Eisenhower matrix within the GTD system has allowed me to use the powerful priority from Eisenhower matrix and the exceptional organisation of tasks from GTD.

If Eisenhower is simpler, why not just use it?

The reason I don’t only use Eisenhower is because the GTD big overview allows me to be intentional and more importantly, it gives me perspective over whether my life goals are aligned with my future goals, with my short-term goals, with my day to day and eventually what task I will be doing next.

First and foremost, this article will not talk about how the implement the GTD system, rather, it will show a simple method for incorporating priority into the system to replace flagging tasks as “next action”.

How priority will be assigned:

Important/Urgent = Priority 1
Important/Not Urgent = Priority 2
Not Important/Urgent = Priority 3
Not Important/Not Urgent = Priority 4

Although in the Eisenhower matrix, the Not Imp/ Not Urg tasks are deleted, this system uses Priority 4 for these tasks. However, these tasks are not deleted and are kept in priority 4 by default. This signifies that they are unprocessed. Instead, tasks are deleted during the weekly review which is part of the GTD system.

To view these, I created a filter with the following filter query.

!##Reference & !##Someday/Maybe & !##Weekly Review

Where the! ##xxxxxxxxxx clause can include any project folders which are not incorporated. In my use case, I have a Reference project which is filled with “book recommendation” and “podcast recommendation”, therefore I never need to assign any priority to these sections.! ## excludes the project from the filter.

Given that I word my tasks actionably, I only need to prioritise which task is Important first. I have no need for a “next action” task since this will almost always be in one of the Important groups. If it is not that important, then should it really be my “next action” for that project?

Matt Siellet