Getting Things Done with Daylite Getting Things Done with Daylite

Getting Things Done with Daylite

Julia Julia

Why GTD?

As we move our business forward, the workloads we are facing are getting more and more diverse and demanding. It is very important to have a system in place to allow you to prioritize your work. The old system of A1 to C5 just doesn't cut it anymore. David Allen's GTD methodology is becoming the prominent way to manage your workload. We recommend taking a look at David's books "Getting Things Done" and "Ready for Anything", as well as checking out his website. 43 Folders is also a great place for productivity tips and tricks.

The Concept

Daylite was created around two core concepts. The first is the Pyramid and the second is "What do I have to do when, with whom, in regards to what?"

Daylite pyramid concept

The idea behind the Pyramid is that you should plan and work with large "buckets" - these buckets collect smaller things such as; appointments, to-do's (Tasks in Daylite), notes related to contacts, and more.

The large buckets are Opportunities and Projects. The difference between Projects and Opportunities is control. With Opportunities, the ultimate outcome is not within your entire control, (i.e. contract you are negotiating - the outcome is controlled by the decision-maker on the other side of the table). With Projects, you have complete control over the way it progresses.

Daylite's Question of What do I have to do, when, with whom, in regards to what?

Now that you have these manageable large buckets, you link Tasks, appointments, contacts, notes, etc. to them. These links help you construct the "What do I have to do, when, with whom, in regards to what".

What is the Task, appointment or note title? (in the case of GTD, you will use Task).

When is the due date or the time of the appointment, meeting or event?

Who are one or more contacts and/or one or more organizations?

In regards to what is one or more Projects and/or one or more Opportunities. Typically it will be one Project or one Opportunity, and with GTD, you will gravitate towards Projects.

GTD Concept and Effort

Now that we have these major concepts in place, we need to add the GTD concepts of Context and Effort. In Daylite, you implement Contexts using Locations. You can set up locations for all major objects in Daylite. In the case of GTD implementation, you really want to focus on the task locations. You will add the Contexts that make sense to you - such as @computer, @home, @work etc. If your contexts tend to be more location-based, you can use the location field.

We've added a new field to Tasks to allow better GTD integration called Estimated Time. In this field, you enter values such as "10 minutes" or "1d" (1 day) or "2w" (2 weeks). You will use this field to enter your GTD effort.

Setting up Daylite for GTD Usage

You can equate Context with Categories in Daylite - they are very similar if not exactly the same thing.

You will need to set up a few categories to make the GTD implementation possible. The canonical examples are @home, @work etc. If your contexts are locations, then you may want to use the locations field in Task. You can also define some preset locations.

The contexts you make or choose require a bit of thought. We will ask you to create at least one category, Inbox so that any unprocessed thoughts can be put in there.

How to Add a Category:

In Daylite, go to Daylite --> Preferences. In the Preferences panel, choose Classifications and choose the Categories. Add new categories using the + button. When you add them, please make sure that they are "active" and that they apply to "Tasks". You should also set a recognizable and meaningful colour.

Setting your default Task category:

To improve efficiency when capturing data, you should set up some Default Values. Go to the Default Values pane in the Preferences window. Select Task and then select "Inbox" for your category. You may want to set some of the other Default Values here as well. (Note: you cannot set a default location)


An essential element to Getting Things Done is capturing all of your thoughts so that your mind is not worried about all of these open loops.

You enter your thoughts using Tasks. Chose any of the 4 methods to achieve this.

Regular Task Creation

While in Daylite, use the Create --> New Task menu item or the New Task toolbar button to create a new Task. A window will appear in which you can enter all your Task-related info. (more on this below)

Daylite - creating a task

Hot Key

Setup a global hotkey to bring up the New Task window while you are in any application. Go to the Preferences window -> Hot Keys. Activate 'Hot Keys' and set one for Create New Task.

Daylite's Hot Key preference pane

Via Daylite Mail Assistant (DMA)

Using Daylite's Mail Assistant with Apple Mail, you can select some text, select a linked Project, and choose to create a new Task. The new Task window will appear with the selected text and the linked Project. You can also opt to not link a Project and/or contacts.

Creating the Task

When you create the Task during your "capturing" process, you may not have enough time to figure everything out or link everything you want to have linked, or even how long it would take and what context you'd do it in. All you really need to do is input enough text in the title and details area so that you can complete the Task creation later. The only other thing needed is the Category (context) of "Inbox". You want this to be your default Category (follow the instruction above on how to set your default category for new Tasks). So, when you create your Task - when you are "capturing", all you really need is a bit of info. in the title and/or detail, the "Inbox" category, and perhaps a due date - that's it. The rest can be done during Processing.


To organize, you should head to the Tasks area and choose the "Inbox" Smart List. If you don't have such a Smart List, simply create one. The Smart List needs to meet only two criteria: Category is "Inbox" and 'Status is "less than"done" and "not deferred"'.

Daylite - inbox source list

Daylite - inbox source list criteria

As you look at the Tasks in the "Inbox" Smart List, you will do a few things.

Determine if this Task can be done in 2 minutes or less. If so, simply do it and either delete it or mark the Task as "done". Determine if this Task is part of an existing Project. If so, locate the Project using the Quick Find panel. Drag the Project and drop it on the Task. Now set the time required on the Task and set the Category (context). Make sure you don't keep the Category as "inbox". Determine if this Task is going to be associated with a new Project. If so, create a Project (linked to the Task) using the contextual menu item "New Project for ____". On that Project, set the due date (see below on how to brainstorm a Project). set the Category (context) on the Task and link it to whatever else you'd like to link it to (i.e contact, organization etc.). Determine the effort that will be required to complete the Task. Determine if you are doing the work or if someone else will be doing it. If someone else in the company is doing it, and that person is a Daylite user, you can use the delegation feature. If someone else outside the organization is going to be working on it, you can use the '"delegated" status. To delegate the task to a user, use the Delegate To option in the Ownerdrop down menu. This is how you implement the GTD "waiting for" concept. If this is a "someday" or "maybe" Task, set the status to "deferred', and optionally set the context. Creating a task in Daylite

When to make it a Project

In Daylite, Projects are major objectives. Something you know will take a while and/or many steps are involved for it to reach completion. You may also want to link files, track email history, track extra fields etc. If it's a potential new gig or contract, you can use an Opportunity instead. If a particular Task is not a very involved one, and only requires a bunch of sub Tasks, then simply make sub-Tasks for it.

Once you've determined that this Task is actually a Project. Go to the toolbar or the create menu and choose to create a new Project. You will notice that the Task is already linked. It's important that your Project has at least one Task - otherwise, you will have to look in the Projects area and not just the Tasks area (nothing wrong with that, it's just additional steps). While creating the Project, you can link any additional resources - such as contacts, forms, extra fields etc.

New Project window

An added benefit of using Projects is that when you are using DMI and you have linked a contact to the Project, you will have the option to link inbound and outbound emails to the Project.

Following up on Actionable Emails Sent

When you send an email with DMI and you want to follow up on that email at a later date, select some text in the email, highlight the contact and perhaps the Project, and create a new Task. With that new Task, set the status to "delegated" if it's an external person doing the work or use the '"delegate"' to internal users.

DMI compose email window

Working within a Project

You can go to the Projects area, select a Project and work in the progress tab. For recurring projects, you can define a pipeline to help you remember the various milestones for this type of Project. You can also define and create Activity Sets.

In the progress tab, you can edit Tasks the same way you edit them in the brainstorm mode.

Next Actions

Next Actions is where the whole GTD process comes together. You create Task Smart Lists for the different contexts and time slots you have. For example, one Smart List could have the following criteria.

Category (context): @home Time Required: less than 10 minutes Status: Less than "done" and not "deferred" Owner: Me (only needed if you are in a multi-user environment) You can create a Smart List that includes criteria such as Project "Due Date is next week".

Daylite's GDT Smartlist criteria window

You can create as many Smart List as you want and you can create them on the fly.

For example, if your optimal attention span is 30 minutes, then create Smart Lists for each context with the time required less than 31 minutes. 30 minutes is just an example, you can have as many time-required variations as you like.

Daylite Smartlist window with GTD style next actions

Over time, you will create a bunch of GTD based Smart Lists.

Review and Follow-Ups

The review process is critical for you to close any open loops. For this process, you also use Task Smart Lists but using slightly different criteria. In this case, you want to look at Tasks you've completed in the last 7 days, using these Smart List criteria:

Category (context): (maybe none if you want to review all) Status: Done strong>Completed Date: In the last 7 days GTD review the smart list

For follow-ups with internal users. You create Task Smart Lists with

Delegated to: (the user) Status: Less than Done Conversely you can also create Smart Lists for things that have been delegated to you by specific individuals (useful right before a meeting):

Delegated to: (that other user) Status: Less than Done For follow-ups with external contacts. You create Task Smart List with:

Status: is Delegated Owner: Me (if multi-user) During the review process, you will most likely create new Tasks. You can put those in the "inbox" or organize them immediately.


David Allen says that the best way to get the whole organization working on the GTD principle is to work from the top - down. If the boss does not let anything slip through the cracks, then the subordinates will automatically have to adopt the system otherwise they will feel compromised (to be polite).

Having said that, there are some benefits to the multi-user implementation in Daylite.

You'll speak the same language, since all the categories and Projects are shared, you can all be on the same page. When you delegate something to a user in Daylite, they will get a notification. When they complete the Task or modify the Task, you will be notified as well (if you choose to be). This will keep you in the loop - even if the Task is re-delegated to someone else. You can help coach your team by creating their Smart Lists and reviewing them periodically with them. Simply add or change the "Owner" criteria in the example Smart Lists mentioned above. Helps you prepare for meetings. Right before a review meeting, you can create a Smart List of all things delegated to the user you are meeting with that have not been done (or have been done). The same goes for Projects due that week or the next. You can have the whole company on one set of GTD criteria. You make the Smart List but do not add the owner in the criteria.

There is a difference between delegation and assignment. If you assign a Task or Project to someone, it tells Daylite that you don't care to send them a notification or follow up after. If you delegate, they will get a notification and you can follow up more easily.


While this document does not cover every aspect of the GTD methodology that can be implemented in Daylite (we didn't cover reference items for example), we believe that a GTD implementation in Daylite great one, and will continue to get better and better as you the user experiment with different approaches, and we the developers continue improving our software.

As always - this system will not work unless you work it on a daily or regular basis. Once you get into the groove of using it, you'll not want to go back to the old way (whatever that was).


There are a number of resources to help you learn more about Daylite and provide answers when you have technical questions.

Our support website and knowledge base have many articles that can help you solve technical difficulties. Visit the knowledge base for more information.

You can work with one of our certified partners who can further extend the possibilities of GTD, with personalized training.