GTD Contexts in Asana


For those of us who are GTD purists or who have moved over from Omnifocus, we need our Contexts.
I’ve created a special Team called “@CONTEXT” and inside I have all my contexts e.g. @home, @desk, @phone, @john, @hardware store, @debtors.
And I assign these “special” context projects to my tasks (tasks can have multiple projects assigned to them). This way, I am able to either work from “My Tasks” or pick a context. e.g. If I’m at the dentist and waiting for my turn, there’s no point in looking at my today list as there will be tasks there which I need to be at my desk to do. But I may be able to make a few phone calls, which I may not have scheduled for today but what the heck… So I head on to @phone and there are all the phone calls I need to do.

Important: when you create these context projects make sure they are private to you only. If you make them public and everyone uses them you’ll get a list of your tasks along with everyone else’s. Your context are your own and each of us has a different list of contexts.


I did not know GTD details and ended up doing something similar: The Bucket System for personal tasks management :sweat_smile:


Interesting angle. Thanks for sharing. :slight_smile:


Hi. This is something similar to what I’m mulling over. Though, I went to create add team members & it asked for emails. Did you create a project contexts, because that is what the screenshot looks like to me. My question is: What part of Asana help system do I need to look at to copy your system?

Really new at GTD, have read the book several times over the years but am only setting it up. (Chronically disorganised & forgetful*) Yet to do a weekly review though I hear it is essential. Basically have just started capturing & am still capturing. Also new to Asana as of last month, 12/2017

Currently I’ve been using tags for context but I’ve found:

  • Hard to find, remember what tags I’ve already created, particularly on mobile. That’s my primary interface.
  • The projects have their own inbox? I’m being swamped in inboxes! I’m not sure which inbox to check at a given time so I want all my new, incomplete tasks to be in one inbox. (My Tasks) Whether I created them or my wife might one day create them for me. I’ve probably misunderstood something but I don’t see where. I keep finding tasks created that I could have been doing had I looked in the correct project.
  • Impossible to look down the list & see what is a project, what is a context as the shape of the highlight is the same for both. (Must get around to suggesting to Asana, different highlights for different categories. )
  • Most of my projects are … stable & intermittent yet repeatable. Maintenance, Cleaning, Cattle, etc.
  • Everyone else who seems to have taken up GTD have “some Type A personality traits” as my wife would say whereas I am definitely Type B. They all seem to have been ambitious, & largely had it together already. I’m a classic underachiever, relying on people around me to keep me from being destitute. (I want to change that.) Stay at home dad, helping around the farm. I seem to be as far from a traditional GTDer as you can get. Anyway this is nonessential miscellaneous info to help see my perspective.



I have found these tips above are only applicable to Organisations; I was trying to use them with Workspaces.

Hope that helps.


Hey Ben.

  • Hard to find tags: I prefer using projects than tags. Easier to find and more sorting possibilities e.g.

  • Project have their own inbox? I haven’t a clue what you mean. I only have one Inbox per Organization or Workspace. If you have too many workspaces you may not be using Asana optimally. I have a couple of companies (wit their own domain names) and a personal workspace.

  • Impossible to look down the list & see what is a project? In an organisation, you can create teams. I’ll then create a @CONTEXTS team and create a project for each context (like my example in my previous post). Note that I always name my teams in Capital letters so that they stand out from Projects. In workspaces, you can only have projects (no teams). So I’ll create a project for each context I need and usually place them at the bottom of my projects list in alphabetical order. In both cases, I add a “@” in front of the context name to differentiate them from ‘normal’ projects.

  • I have 2 types of projects: ongoing and finite. Ongoing ones are ones that are never archived. The tasks therein are completed and others added. Some are just where I store stuff like recipes or jokes. e.g. I’ll have a “Jokes” project with each task a joke. Same for Recipes. In an organisation, you may have a project like “Weekly Meetings”. Inside I would have sections to group different agenda items or issues that need to be resolved. Some are resolved and marked complete and new ones added. These would be similar to your Maintenance, Cleaning, Cattle projects.
    The you have finite projects. In GTD, a project is defined as any outcome which requires more than one task. So technically, if you need to accomplish something by doing 2 tasks, you create a project and add the 2 tasks to it. Once you’ve accomplished those tasks, you can just archive the project.
    e.g. Project: Repair kitchen tap.
    Task 1: Call plumber
    Task 2: Buy materials
    Task 3: Pay plumber

  • Type A, type B and GTD etc: Not sure about al this. All I can say is that Capturing everything works as long as you process the stuff you captured.
    Apply the GTD 5 steps:

  1. Capture
  2. Clarify (what is this? What an I trying to achieve? Is this a task? Or should I make this a project and break it down into more easily doable tasks?)
  3. Organise (organise my stuff into teams and projects)
  4. Review (keep my system clean and trustworthy)
  5. Engage or Do!
    A little time everyday and a weekly review should keep your system clean so that you will continue adding stuff to it and organising so that you trust that it will appear when you need it.

NB: Remember to assign all tasks that you need to do to yourself so that they appear in your “My Tasks”. Once there, you’ll find them in New Tasks. Now move them into either the Today section, Upcoming (tomorrow up to 1 week) or Later (> 1 week). If you spend a few minutes at the start of your day deciding what you’re going to do and have that in your Today, the rest can go in Upcoming and Later and hidden away. I call Today the tip of the iceberg and Upcoming and Later the hidden part of the iceberg. These tasks should be hidden because you cannot do anything about them. Just focus on your Today tasks. “If I can get these 8 tasks accomplished today, I’ll have a really good day.” That keeps you focused and not overwhelmed by looking at dozens of tasks.
Always empty your New tasks and move them to Today, Upcoming or Later.
Now if you add a date to Upcoming and Later tasks, they will pop up in your Today automatically on that date. That’s what I mean by “they will pop up when they’re due”.

The beauty of this system is that you have captured stuff (they’re out of your head and into your trusted system). Now that you’ve clarified and organised them, you can truly FORGET about them until they pop back in from of you when they’re due. David Allen says, “the mind is for having ideas, not to hold them”. This system will allow you to stop holding ideas and free up your creativity and, I guarantee, reduce your stress level. It did for me. Big time!
Last thing: Read the book!
Good luck! :slight_smile:


Just to start off, I messed up the markup on my original post and the last point of the bulleted list should not have been included in the list but as a separate paragraph. When I noticed the mistake I couldn’t rectify it. So the Type A/B personality, along with GTD commentary probably appeared very confusing rather than clarifying. It was only meant to be background information. Probably TMI anyway.

  • Hard to find tags:
    I’ve been trying to use them as contexts. Given I started as a Workspace, that may have added to my own confusion. I’m rearranging to be more similar to your setups.

  • Projects have their own inbox: goes directly to that project; no? What is that other than an inbox? It doesn’t matter, I’ve stopped sending to those as it is too confusing. I’ll just send everything to I’m also whittling down the email addresses I use, and are associated with my Workspace. 8 personal addresses was possibly too many.

  • Impossible to … see what is a project: .
    Should have been distinguish between a project & a context, quickly. Some projects have the same (abbreviated) name as contexts. Using symbols to distinguish are sometimes helpful hint I’m now practicing. My comments on this were really about the design of Asana, not on how you are suggesting it to setup.

I think I’m going to have to get an Organisation rather than a Workspace. I will also have to think a bit more on your suggestions wrt the next bulleted list item: types of projects. Seems obvious as you have written it, but I’m struggling to implement it in my own situation. That’d be the thinking David Allen talks about being required for each action to get a ‘mind like water’.

I have & am reading the book. It is the regular “Weekly Review” they seem to do daily in the GTD podcasts that I struggle to do. Not to mention, like most newbies I was trying to do Clarify, Organise, & Review in a single step. I’m stopping that & will be clarifying far more frequently. As I understand it that might give me less to organise etc

Thank you for your helpful hints & efforts to clarify better ways to implement GTD in Asana.