Wunderlist and GTD: Organizing Next Actions into Projects and Areas of Focus

woman writing on a notepad

It’s time for another installment of my disorganized, ad hoc series on how I use Wunderlist with the Getting Things Done productivity methodology. In the meantime, I made a separate page with a handy list of key terms and definitions for you, since GTD has its own jargon. I am a teacher at heart, so I like to define things first.

Just like in my last GTD post, on Projects vs. Areas of Focus, I wrote this one in response to a post on the GTD thread in the Wunderlist Support Center.

The Question (edited for clarity)

Let’s say I have 3 Areas of Focus: health, work, self development. I would have one GTD list/folder and another folder for each AoF. My question, what do I put in every AoF folder in terms of additional lists? Do you implement the same lists as the main GTD per AoF? Or do you solely put in projects concerning that AoF and make sure all items are tagged properly and come together in one of the main GTD lists? (i.e. All scheduled/tickler actions come together in one list—so health/work comes together in one [list] but I would be able to filter this through using tags?)

My Answer (which I posted ages ago)

(Non-GTDers: This is where the abbreviations and jargon start to come flying at you.)

In Wunderlist, lists and folders are totally different concepts. A folder contains 1 or more lists. A list contains 1 or more tasks/NAs.

I’ve never found it useful to have one master NA list, although that is part of the GTD methodology. I find it much more helpful to sort my NAs by AoF or by Project. I have a folder called “Areas of Focus” with one list per AoF, and I have another folder called “Project Plans” with one list per Project.

Therefore, if I view my “Friends & Family” list, I see all the things I need to do regarding my friends and family. If I view my “Closet Purge” Project list, I see all the things I need to do to purge my closet.

I use very few tags, so my filtering is just by date. (What gets scheduled gets done.) Thus, I click on the Today smart list to see what NAs I have scheduled for today in each AoF and each Project. Since they’re separate lists in WL, they are visually labeled and separated within the Today smart list. I guess I could also tag my S/M list by AoF and future Project, but I don’t. One giant S/M list does work for me.

For a different perspective, Andreah at Frazz2Fab has a post about maintaining separate NA, S/M, etc. lists for each AoF that you might find useful.


Lists and folders are different things. The fewer of each you have, the better.


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I’ve been trying to use Evernote and GTD. Last year I started with paper and GTD and it was hard keeping up. For me, I regard the areas of focus like projects. They are different types of the same idea. Then I have the NAs duplicated in the “locations?” I forget the correct GTD term, but the areas where stuff can get done (Office, Lab, Computer, Home). Depending on my mindset I look at either the project, where there are all my tasks for that project, or the location, what I can get done where I am.

Productivity is a continuous challenge.

    That’s “contexts.” I have never been able to quite get behind the concept of contexts. I actually prefer to schedule as much as possible. It helps me get a realistic-ish overview of my day. One of the things I’ve heard that’s useful about contexts and electronic GTD systems is that you can use tags to connect NAs instead of duplicating them. I hate duplication; I wind up accidentally deleting both copies!

[…] of GTD, I finally published a second installment of my GTD “series,” this time on how I organize my Next Actions. I also published some key terms for GTD and for Wunderlist, with a dash of commentary for […]

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