Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Doing Phase

LifeTopix and My.Agenda are personal organization apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Both apps are especially useful for those who utilize David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method. The GTD method is an excellent method for organizing your schedule and getting things done for both life and business.LifeTopix GTD

At LightArrow, we’re constantly incorporating features that are useful for GTD, and we enjoy sharing our best practices for using these features. In this post, I’ll show you how you can use LifeTopix for the Doing Phase of GTD. Keep in mind that our starter app, My.Agenda, can include many of the features discussed by purchasing the Get Things Done Pack as an in-app purchase.

What is GTD?

If you’re not familiar with GTD, it’s “the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity,” according to David Allen’s website. Allen lays out five key phases of the GTD process, which include 1) Capture/Collect, 2) Process, 3) Organize, 4) Review, and 5) Doing. This post focuses on the Doing Phase of this workflow. In earlier blog posts, I’ve described the first four phases.

Refer to the following links to better understand how to use LightArrow apps for GTD.

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Prioritizing Tasks in LifeTopix
Best Practices for Getting Things Done with LifeTopix Categories and Contexts
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Capture and Collect
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Processing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly Review

What is the Doing Phase of GTD?

No matter what system you’re using, it’s incredibly important to take action on your projects and units of work (tasks). In GTD, the Doing Phase is about making choices and taking action on items based on the context, time available, resources, and priorities. The types of items that you execute on are primarily tasks; however, in LifeTopix you might also be acting upon notes, appointments, trips, visits, events, gifts, and shopping lists. When using LifeTopix, we suggest that you review your action lists daily and choose the items for which you wish to act.

This post focuses primarily on tasks and appointments, but keep in mind the principles are similar for most actionable items. If you’ve properly executed the phases of Capturing, Processing, Organizing, and Reviewing, then you should be able to easily proceed with the Doing Phase. When using LifeTopix for the Doing Phase, focus on the items described in the following sections.

Choosing Items from My Contexts

LifeTopix provides context tags for adding metadata to any type of object, no matter what system you use. Fundamentally, tags are used to describe the data for organizing purposes. In GTD, contexts are assigned to help you determine if you’re at the correct location and have the proper resources to complete a job. You can use LifeTopix’s context tags for GTD contexts.

The following four criteria are outlined in Allen’s book for setting contexts:

  1. Context (tools available, such as phone, internet, etc.)
  2. Time (the time at hand)
  3. Energy (your attention level)
  4. Priority (importance)

Take note that you’re more productive if you perform tasks, such as making phone calls during chunks of time, rather than switching to a different task — such as going to the grocery store to pick up milk and then finishing phone calls at a later time. Examples of GTD contexts are @office, @home, @grocery store, etc.

In LifeTopix, you can set any context you wish and you can assign multiple contexts to items. You access the My Contexts view by tapping the “tag” icon, as shown in the following image. The My Contexts view assists you in making choices about the jobs you wish to complete daily. This view shows all the contexts that you’ve set up.

LifeTopix Contexts
You can drill down into the contexts to see their tasks and other items by tapping the items in the list. In the My Contexts view, I’ve chosen the context of @home. The following image shows the tasks to which I’ve assigned to this context.

LifeTopix Contexts

Choosing and Viewing Daily Tasks from Contexts

Once you’ve selected a task from the My Contexts view, you can view the task detail to further determine if you have the time to complete the job. You can also determine if the item is a priority. The following image shows the fields that help you to decide on an action. The image below also shows how you can assign the action to the current date. Assigning a date allows you to easily locate and view the task in the Agenda view.

LifeTopix Tasks GTD

When you assign a due date to the current day, the task appears in the Agenda view, which makes it easy for you to view and edit your upcoming tasks from one screen, as shown in the following image.

LifeTopix Agenda View GTD

In the above image, notice that the “Write 10 pages” task appears in light green, indicating it’s the next action to complete.

Choosing Items from Task Lists

Another method for choosing your daily tasks is to review your Task Lists in LifeTopix. In the Tasks + Projects topic of LifeTopix, you can access all your tasks in one view, which is the Task List view. You can drill down into each task to determine if you have enough time to complete the task and whether or not the task is flagged with a higher priority. This view is shown below.

Task List LifeTopix

We realize that it’s crucial to choose daily tasks based on many factors, and that priority and context are of upmost importance. Therefore, in our upcoming release of LifeTopix, we’ve made it easier to choose daily tasks by adding more choices for filtering task views. You will be able to view tasks by All, Category, Context Tag, Due Date, Last Updated, Status, Associated Item, Priority, and Task Owner. This allows you to better choose items based on context, time, resources, and priorities. These new choices are shown in the following image.

LifeTopix 8

(Pre-release image)

Utilizing Hot Lists

Hot Lists are exactly what the name implies — items that have a high degree of importance. Hence, we created the Hot List view for those “Hot” items. The Hot List gives you easy access to your favorite and most commonly used views and items by aggregating them into one place. This saves you time in navigating to frequently used views, items, and resources in LifeTopix.

At LightArrow, we realize that when following the GTD method, you might not want to set due dates for tasks that do not have hard deadlines. In LifeTopix, we recommend adding the due dates so you can easily view your items in one place (the Agenda view); however, if you prefer not to assign due dates to tasks, you can add these items to the Hot List.

To add tasks to your Hot List, in your Task List view, tap the “more info” icon to view the following options and then choose “Add to Hot List.”

Note: In many LifeTopix list views, you can tap and hold an item to add it to the Hot List.

Hot List GTD LifeTopix

Subsequently, you can view your chosen items directly from the Hot List, which you access from your Dashboard, as shown below.

Hot List

Using Your Calendar Views

Actions that must be completed at a certain date and time (with hard deadlines), such as classes, meetings, doctor’s appointments, kids’ activities, etc. are handled easily by LifeTopix. Specifically, LifeTopix allows you to define these items by Appointments, Bill Payments, Events, Dated Notes, Occasions, Medications, Activity/Wellness, and more. LifeTopix has a variety of choices for viewing the calendar. LifeTopix includes a main calendar that allows you to pick and choose the types of items that display on it. The app also includes specific calendars for tasks, events, and trips. You can view the calendar by Day, Week, Month, and Year. If you want to see these calendar views in detail, refer to Not Crazy About the iOS 7 Calendar App – Here’s the Answer.

In the Month and Day views, you can easily review the items that you scheduled for the day, which helps you to decide on the other tasks that you’ll work on daily. The following image shows an example of the Month view.

Month View LifeTopix

In this view, you can see all the dated items that you’ve assigned for the day — all in one place. Keep in mind that your dated items also appear in your Agenda view, which provides a good list of your jobs, events, and appointments for the current day and the upcoming week.

Completing Tasks

Of course, completing your important tasks is the ultimate goal when your intention is productivity and getting things done. Doing the work is up to you, but LifeTopix makes it easy to mark your tasks as complete. You simply set the Status to Completed and enter a Finished On date. This way, you have a record of when you complete the task and you feel a sense of accomplishment when you see your important items crossed off. The following screenshot shows the fields where you indicate status for a task.

LifeTopix Complete Tasks

Once you’ve completed your tasks, you can view the completed task list by filtering by all tasks, as shown in the following image.

LifeTopix Completed Tasks

Take note, in our upcoming release, you’ll have the ability to view your tasks by status, as shown earlier in this post.

More Information

GTD is a great system for managing your busy home and work life. If you’d like to know more about best practices using LifeTopix for GTD, refer to the following posts:

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Prioritizing Tasks in LifeTopix
Best Practices for Getting Things Done with LifeTopix Categories and Contexts
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Capture and Collect
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Processing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly Review

Your Turn

As I mentioned, if you’ve properly focused on the first four phases of GTD, then the Doing Phase should be a breeze. Please comment and let us know how you implement the Doing Phase and let us know if you have suggestions or questions.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

4 replies
  1. Wendy says:

    Adding a Pomodoro Timer would make the getting things done section perfect. It is the only thing I could imagine that you could add. You could tag an item @pomodoro, view those items and then run the timer that would be an available button. The timer would run for 25 minutes (focus/work)…notify you with an alarm…run for 5 minutes (break)…notify you with an alarm, continue for four cycles, and after the 4th focus/work block…notify you with an alarm…run for 20 minute (break). While this is running you would be able to mark off each @pomodoro tagged task as it is completed and move to the next prioritized task. The key would be that the timer would run an entire cycle of 4 focus blocks and 4 break blocks with the ability to pause, stop and start over, or repeat continuously until turned off.

    The timer could run in 2 modes: traditional (using the above times) or Flexible (individuals could set there own work and break times). I would always use traditional but adjustable times may appeal to a wider audience.

    It would be important that it would run while other features of the phone are being used and when phone is in sleep mode.

    Being able to be alerted by different alarms would be nice. Such as picking a different alarm for break time then work time so you don’t need to look at your phone. Something more upbeat but not annoying for work and more tranquil or zen like wind chimes for break. The option for two different vibration settings again, for the same purpose. The option to select the ability to hear the alarm even when phone is on silent. This is a feature I really like and use often in another app.

    Go to to find out more about Francesco Cirillo’s time management technique.

    Thank you so much for the way you listen to suggestions. I have been so impressed with your communication to your customers and inquiries. I read all of the questions and comments for a particular subject because I find it very useful. I was also thrilled how you spelled out the way to use the APP with the GTD method. I paid for an app before I found you for the GTD Method and they said the had web links for how to use it but not of them worked. I found it frustrating to pay for an app and then have no support on using it. However, because of that I looked for something new and I found your app. You have the best customer service I have ever seen for an app.

    Thank you!

    • Team LightArrow says:

      Hi Wendy,

      Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us.

      We are getting our end of January release ready now. For our March release, we plan improvements in the task, schedules, and calendar areas, and we hope to support the ability do do this at that time.

      Best Regards,
      Team LightArrow
      Austin Texas


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Things Done — Processing Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Doing Phase Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly […]

  2. […] Done — Cap­ture and Col­lect Best Prac­tices for Get­ting Things Done — Pro­cess­ing Best Prac­tices for Get­ting Things Done — Doing Phase Best Prac­tices for Get­ting Things Done — Weekly […]

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