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Page history last edited by charles.cave@... 8 years, 1 month ago

GTD Glossary


Confused by the various terms found in David Allen's writing

or used by members of the mailing lists? Hopefully this glossary will help.





The different operational levels of our work, presented using an aviation



  • 50,000+ feet Life (Your overall mission in life – “the ultimate strategic planning level”.)
  • 40,000 feet Three-to-five year visions (Longer-term goals - on a 3-5 year timeframe.)
  • 30,000 feet One-to-two year goals (Intermediate-term goals and objectives - on a 12-18 month timeframe)
  • 20,000 feet Areas of responsibility (Current Roles and Responsibilities, personally and professionally)
  • 10,000 feet Current projects (The operational, or “runway” level. Where the “doing” happens.)
  • Runway Current actions


Buckets (Collection Buckets)




Your calendar is only used to store date specific, or time and date-specific actions as well as information relevant to the day. It is not a place to store "daily todo lists" or "weekly todo lists".




Desired Outcome


GTD emphasizes visualizing the desired outcome when thinking about a project, versus linear project planning. A Desired outcome is a visualisation of what "finished" looks like. This means you will recognise when the task or project is finished.



Front-end Decision Making


Making a decision when you process an item in your collection system.

This means deciding the successful outcome and determining the next





Getting Things Done.


Mind Like Water


An image from the martial art of karate (practiced by David Allen)

used to define the position of perfect readiness.


Next Action


A visible, physical task that can be performed without thinking about how to do it. The most atomic unit of information in your GTD system. There is a bit of an art to defining work items as a next action. Use action verbs, and keep it succinct.


Open Loop


Any open commitment, plan, or unfinished business that exists in your life. It is typical today for a busy person to have many hundreds or even thousands of open loops bouncing around throughout their conscious and unconscious thought processes, all vying for attention. Most of the stress people experience (conscious or otherwise) tends to come from inappropriately managed open loops (commitments) they make or







Psychic Ram


Relaxed Focus


The state that results when you get everything “off your mind”… the best state to be working from. Also referred to as working in The Zone or the Flow State.


Someday/Maybe Item


A project or next action that is on hold. The period could be days, weeks, months or years; all are lumped into the Someday/Maybe database and reviewed once a week during the weekly review.




All the things you need to get done, now, later, someday, big, little

or inbetween. Anything you have allowed into your psychological or

physical world that doesn't belong where it is, but for which you

haven't determined the desired outcome and the next action step.


Stuff includes your email, letters and bills, requests from people,

notes taken in meetings, paper, objects.


Tickler File


43 physical files folders numbered 1-31, and Jan-Dec (representing each day of the month, and each month), which is checked daily to use as a prompting system. A tickler file can be used to send stuff to yourself in the future.


Trusted System


The method by which you capture your stuff, define your projects

and next actions, record your appointments. Such a system

should not be in your head or relying on your memory. When things

are written down on paper or stored electronically, they are out of

your head and available for review and action.


Weekly Review


Widgets (Cranking Widgets)


Cranking widgets symbolises the sort of work where the job is clearly visible,

for example, process work in a factory. Knowledge work is different as the

work is not immediately visible and has to be researched and planned by the

knowledge worker. An outcome of the weekly review is an updated list of

Next Actions which should be as easy to do as "cranking widgets", for example,

Ring Bill regarding lunch, Buy software upgrade, Install new printer.



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