What is GTD?

This article was contributed by David Allen & Co and is re-published with permission.

GTD® is the popular shorthand for “Getting Things Done®,” the groundbreaking work-life management system and book by David Allen that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.

Since piloting a productivity seminar for 1,000 managers at Lockheed in 1983, David has continued to test and refine the techniques and principles we now know as GTD – a powerful method to manage commitments, information, and communication. This pioneering and proven system is the result of those 20 plus years of David’s consulting, private coaching, and organizational programs with over a half million people internationally. GTD has well earned its recognition as the gold standard in personal management and productivity for many of the world’s best and brightest people and companies.

Sophisticated without being confining, the subtle effectiveness of GTD lies in its radically common-sense notion that with a complete and current inventory of all your commitments, organized and reviewed in a systematic way, you can focus clearly, view your world from optimal angles, and make trusted choices about what to do (and not do) at any moment. GTD embodies an easy, step-by-step, and highly efficient method for achieving this relaxed, productive state. It includes:

  • Capturing anything and everything that has your attention
  • Defining actionable things discretely into outcomes and concrete next steps
  • Organizing reminders and information in the most streamlined way, in appropriate categories, based on how and when you need to access them
  • Keeping current and “on your game” with appropriately frequent reviews of the six horizons of your commitments (purpose, vision, goals, areas of focus, projects, and actions)

Implementing GTD alleviates the feeling of overwhelm, instills confidence, and releases a flood of creative energy. It provides structure without constraint, managing details with maximum flexibility. The system rigorously adheres to the core principles of productivity, while allowing tremendous freedom in the “how.” The only “right” way to do GTD is getting meaningful things done with truly the least amount of invested attention and energy. Coaching thousands of people, where they work, about their work, has informed the GTD method with the best practices of how to work (and live), in that most-efficient and productive way.

GTD’s simplicity, flexibility, and immediacy are its attraction. Its ability to enliven, enlighten, and empower is its magic. What, indeed, is GTD? More than meets the eye...

For more David Allen Company tools and educational content, check out our GTD Products section at davidco.com. For our online learning center, visit GTD Connect at gtdconnect.com.

New in AC for Web: Reminders, User Interface in German and Spanish

AC for Web has been updated. The highlights of the update:

  • You can manage reminders on the web. To have the reminders set on the web sync with your phone please install AC for Android 6.4 from Android Market.
  • AC for Web is available in German, courtesy of Thomas Pauli, and Spanish, courtesy of Antonio Tabasco Cabezas.

Reminder Memos

  • Reminder time can be selected from a drop-down list in 15-minute increments.
  • You can omit the date part. In such a case it defaults to current date.
  • You can omit the time part. In this case it defaults to midnight.
  • The omission rules above are different from AC for Android where you have to specify both date and time for the reminder.


You can access German and Spanish interfaces via the drop-down list in the upper navigation panel.

Due to a technical limitation of Google App Engine, which is an underlying framework of AC for Web, I had to choose two out of three available translations based on the number of active ActionComplete users for each language. As a result an excellent Dutch translation performed by Elwin Varkevisser did not make the cut.

I'm trying to find a meaningful workaround for the issue to make possible further internationalization of AC for Web.


Your feedback is important. Please report issues either by emailing support or by posting to AC Google group. You are welcome to suggest new features and enhancements at ActionComplete Feature and Enhancement Requests forum.

Staying Up-to-Date

ActionComplete product family evolves fast. There are multiple ways to stay on top of ActionComplete happenings.

  • You can visit actioncomplete.com and subscribe to AC RSS feed.
  • AC Google group subscription will deliver the news and other potentially helpful discussions right to your email inbox.
  • If you are on social networks, AC Facebook page and AC Twitter account are great news and announcement resources for you.
  • Or just stop by at actioncomplete.com - we are happy to see you :-)

ActionComplete Partners with Skyhook, Licences Advanced Location Technology

ActionComplete LLC announces a long-term partnership with the worldwide leader in location positioning Skyhook.

The agreement with Skyhook allowed ActionComplete to license innovative WPS and XPS technologies for use in its current and future products.

AC for Android 6.3, which can be downloaded from Android Market, includes Skyhook's technology for GPS-less battery-efficient location service.

About ActionComplete LLC

ActionCompete LLC develops and markets a family of advanced productivity applications based on David Allen's GTD methodology.

Additional information about ActionComplete can be found on its official website.

About Skyhook, Inc

Skyhook developed the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) that takes advantage of the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi access points throughout populated areas to consistently provide accurate location information indoors and in urban areas. Skyhook also provides XPS, the world's first true hybrid positioning system.

Additional information about Skyhook Wireless can be found on its official website.

AC for Android 6.2: Improved Location-based Features, Summer Cleanup

ActionComplete for Android 6.2 is released to the market.

Release at a Glance

  • Location-based functionality is reworked to use Skyhook Wireless award-winning technology.
  • Summer cleaning: a few controversial, confusing, and obsolete features removed.

How to Use the Improved Location-based Features

Since day one ActionComplete relied on the built-in Android location provider and GPS hardware for location-based notifications. While it worked in many circumstances, the use of the feature was quite restricted due to the nature of GPS technology. Namely it didn't work indoors.

Skyhook Wireless advanced positioning technology uses WiFi hotspots and cell tower triangulation to accurately and reliably calculate the location when GPS is not available or undesirable.

Now ActionComplete can detect your location no matter if your GPS is on or off, both indoors and outdoors almost as accurately as before.

As GPS unit is no longer used for location-based functions, ActionComplete battery use in location-aware mode has decreased significantly. There's minimal use of WiFi radio for the duration of location check.

The new location-based notifications will not work for remote outdoor places as Skyhook's technology requires WiFi and cell tower availability.

Please give it a try and share your experiences.

Removal of Constoversial, Confusing, and Obsolete Features

Over the past 18 months ActionComplete grew from a concept product to a full-featured task management solution. Along the way it picked up features and functions that didn't get an approval vote from the users, required unneeded skill to use, and simply were outgrown by the product.

Geo-social feature came before its time and did not gain traction with the mainstream ActionComplete users who were unsure why it's there and how to use it. It's gone now. Most likely it's going to be reintroduced later in ActionComplete product lifecycle.

Local backup and restore is history. It was introduced in the early days of ActionComplete to provide additional data security in the times before ActionComplete for Web was available. The local backup/restore didn't work across different application versions and seemed to cause as many problems as it solved. Now when AC for Web is available the local backup/restore feature became a source of confusion and redundancy. Gone.

Reset Sync Status menu option was intended to facilitate data migration from AC for Web private to public beta and to provide developement-oriented facilities. Being located in physical proximity of Sync Now option, the Reset Sync was occasionally pressed by unsuspecting users resulting in a few cases of hard-to-restore data corruption. The option is no longer there for good.

A few outdated preferences were removed. Find them and let everyone know at ActionCompete Facebook page in exchange for our cordial virtual high five.

AC for Android 6.1 is All About Polish

ActionComplete 6.1 is released to the market.

In this release:

  • Translation into Polish, courtesy of Marek Skrobacki
  • More polish: automatically saving and restoring filters, pre-population of metadata off of the filters, <no tag> and <no place> filters
  • Bug fixes

Saving and Restoring Filters

Now ActionComplete remembers your filter settings - next time you start the application you pick up right at where you left off.

Pre-population of Metadata for New Tasks

More often than not you work in a context defined by your filters and find yourself in a situation where the new tasks you create have to have the same metadata (tags, people, and places) as the active filter. Now AC natively supports this scenario.

Filters to Find "Orphan" Tasks

It's highly recommended that most of the time you work within a context defined by the filters as such an approach ensures better task visibility and generally improves your ActionComplete experience.

Even when practicing this style at times you might find yourself in need to quickly capture something in a situation when every second matters. This is how you end up with "orphans" - tasks with no metadata.

The newly added <no tag> and <no place> filters allow you to easily identify unassigned items so that you can get back to the absolute balance in your task universe.

ActionComplete 6 for Android: The First Geo-social Task Organizer

ActionComplete 6 allows you to see on the map what people plan around you copy their tasks to your personal to-do list.

The vicinity view presents a map positioned around your current location that shows all the places where ActionComplete has or had a task planned by someone.

When you tap such a place you see a view of all the tasks planned at the place. The tasks are ordered by the number of people who planned them - the "hottest" tasks are at the top of the list.

Tapping the plus sign adds the task to your Actions list. What's cool is the place where the task is planned is automatically added to your Places list if it's not already there. Or updated with the coordinates if it doesn't have them.

If you happen to have the task with the same name already in your Actions list, a dialog box will popup telling you so. In this case you can tap the task row itself to open New Action form with Action Name and Places field pre-populated with the name of the action and the place respectively.

Sometimes you want to plan something that nobody else is currently planning at a place. To do just that there is Tap to plan something else here row. 

If a location that had some ActionComplete activity currently does not have any tasks planned by anyone, you can be the first to start it all over. Tap to plan something here row is there for that purpose.

The task names and place names and coordinates are shared anonymously - the only information visible to other users is the number of people who planned a task at a particular place.

Sharing is mutual - to be able to see the vicinity map you have to share your tasks linked to places. The sharing setting can be changed at any time in the preferences.

If you want to make a place "private", reset its coordinates with Reset toolbar button on Place Details screen. Obviously you won't be able to leverage location-based reminders for private places.

With all these features ActionComplete creates an entirely new category of productivity applications - geo-social task managers.

AC for Android 5.2 Speaks Dutch

AC for Android 5.2 is released and can be installed from Android Market. This release adds support of Dutch, courtesy of Elwin Varkevisser, and fixes a few issues reported via the new Android bug reporting facility.

Thanks to your contributions AC for Android is now available in five languages: Czech, German, Spanish, French, and Dutch.

Please report all the issues to support. The best way to report an issue is to tap Report button in the Force Close dialog if such button is available on your phone.

Your feedback is important. If you know of a great feature that will make AC for Android better please let me know about it.

If AC for Android is not available in your language and you want to contribute a translation you are welcome to do so. Please contact support for further details.

AC for Web: Attaching Metadata to Your Incoming Emails

AC for Web has just been updated with a cool way of attaching metadata to your actions right when you email them in. As of now you can use a special syntax to ask ActionComplete to give a special treatment to parts of the email subject.

To link an action to an existing project type in an email subject like this:

My action: my existing project

The colon will tell ActionComplete to treat whatever follows it as a project name. A non-existing project will be ignored. Remember that AC for Web is case-sensitive and be mindful of your spelling.

To tag an action use the hash mark (#):

My action # personal, out and about

The email subject above will generate an action attached to two tags: personal and out and about. The comma (,) tells ActionComplete that multiple tags are present.

To assign an action to a person you use the exclamation point (!):

My action ! James Brown; Wilson, Judy

It's important to remember that the name separator is the semicolon (;). Comma (,) is used for names in Last Name, First Name notation.

The places are attached with the at sign (@):

My action @ Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market

Commas (,) separate individual places.

Naturally you can combine all of the above in any order and use as many or few spaces as you like:

My action : my existing project # personal, out and about ! James Brown; Wilson, Judy @ Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market

Have fun emailing your actions in and report all the issues to support.

How AC People Get Synchronized with Google Contacts

As of the time of this writing ActionComplete People should properly synchronize with your Google Contacts.
There are a few things you need to know to get the most out of this feature.

  1. What gets synced is a substet of your Google Contacts, namely My Contacts group.
  2. To reset the sync status for People, hide and show People via Settings page. This procedure does not affect any existing associations between your actions/waits/projects/pending projects and people.
  3. You can create a person record in AC for Web by typing the person's name and linking it to an item via plus sign icon or by pressing the Enter key. When the item is saved, the person record will be created in AC for Web. The record is added to your Google Contacts My Contacts group next time your AC People are synced with your Google Contacts.
  4. If you want to delete a person record, do so in your Google Contacts. The deletion will be reflected in AC for Web next time the contact sync process updates your account.

Please report all the issues with People <-> Contacts sync to ActionComplete support.

AC for Android 5.1: Multiple Improvements for International Users, Preference for Sync Frequency

AC for Android 5.1.0 is released to Android Market.
In this release:

  • International characters are displayed correctly in both AC for Web and AC for Android and are handled properly by the  sync process.
  • AC for Android is now available in German, courtesy of Thomas Pauli.
  • Spanish translation is updated, courtesy of Jesús Damieta González.
  • Preference for sync frequency is added. The default value is set to 15 minutes.

Your feedback is important. Whether you email AC support, post to AC Google group, or write on the wall of AC Facebook page, it's all appreciated and taken into consideration.

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