Getting things done method - Determining which projects to have

I have just gone through the first step of the GTD method and brain dumped all of my tasks into an inbox.

Now I’m trying to think of a smart system that can organize everything without having too many projects. What is your thoughts on this situation? I’m kind of stuck on labeling projects part.

I went through the trigger list for both professional and personal. I’m just trying to find a way to simplify without having dozens of categories…

  • Professional : How many projects should there be?

  • Personal : How many projects or sub-projects should there be?

So far I have created a bunch of sections within the project for Personal. (All triggers)

I have no clue if this is too complicated or not. I was thinking about having at the top an inbox. Then slowly determine each task then organize under each section.

What are your thoughts?

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I see that long list of possible triggers (== headers) as being for each individual to make their own selection from. Unless you have an extraordinarily complicated life, with you inhabiting many roles, I wouldn’t think you need them all.

It’s helpful to make the cut based on values, i.e. what is most important to you. If you could do only one thing in your personal life, what would it be? “Spend time with loved ones.” What if you could do two things? The 2nd might be, “Complete my degree” or “Get my house fixed up.”

Likewise in your professional life. The highest value? “Perform my current role at an A+ level.” 2nd: “Build strong, lasting relationships with my colleagues.” Etc.

Once you have your values in place, it’s easier to identify the action areas that deserve your attention. Unless you’re a supermodel or you have another specific case, CLOTHES don’t seem like they should ever make the top level of “What has your attention”. TRANSPORTATION doesn’t need daily attention, either. If you’re a pro-surfer, GLOBAL WAVE CONDITIONS will usually be #1.

I hope it’s clear that these lists are utterly personal and should be driven by what’s important to you. You know that best.


I think the sky is the limit for the number of projects you can have within your personal and professional. The key is to keep it manageable. I tend to lump some of my projects together to assist with this. For example, financial and legal could be one project under the personal category.

Agree with @Stephanie_Oberg would suggest you have gone probably to to lower level.

Try and look at summarise them into a higher level and use other GTD ways to help organise. For example I would have a Shopping Section rather than splitting it into what type of shopping.

Also for Projects I would Simplify it and just have In Progress and Not Started.

It would probably be easier to to start with a smaller list and then expand if you have problems rather than trying to wind back.

Remember you can use tags, emojis, custom fields, colours to provide more context information about the projects, tasks…


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