Ryan’s GTD Productivity System

The Lists

  1. Inbox
All Unreads

  1. Needs Action
️ star
 “Needs Action” list
  1. Waiting
Purple Question star
 “Waiting” list
  1. Someday Maybe

Blue star
 Ad-hoc lists
  1. Delegated

Orange Guillemet star
 “Delegated” list
  1. Reference

Blue Info star
 “Reference” list
  1. Projects

 “Projects” list

The Tools
  • Slack
  • All Unreads / All Threads
  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • GCal to Trello recipe


1. Inboxes

I have only 2 inboxes.
  • Gmail: Inbox
  • Slack: All Unreads + All Threads (I count these as one)

For these, I apply the 2-minute rule.

  •  If it takes less than two minutes to read and optionally reply, then do it now.

If it takes more than two minutes, I typically try to respond that I’ll follow-up later, and then it goes into the Needs Action list.

In Gmail, I use filters to ensure only useful, important, or actionable emails get to the inbox.

In Slack, obviously muting channels unless mentioned is key to keeping the volume down.

The Goal: Zero Inbox by the end of the day or week. Some days you’ll fail, some weeks you’ll fail. Don’t bother trying to be in a constant state of Zero Inbox - instead try to whittle it down slowly or batch time to deal with it. Important thing is not to give up.

Size: This rarely gets over 50 emails in Gmail or 50 unreads in Slack before I get anxious.

2. Needs Action

This is my active To Do list. It’s the prioritized list of what I need to do next. These are immediately actionable tasks and I try to keep them relatively small (under an hour), but I’m not religious about sizing them.

But I am careful not to put large epic/project level items in this list. If it’s a project, it goes into the Projects list and I create an item on the Needs Action list that is just the first task in that Project. Sometimes that is as simple as, “Start XYZ Project”.