Davide Muzzarelli

GTD in a text file, the Muzzarelli’s version – part 3

published on 23.01.2008 in # in english, * livello base, GTD, organizzazione

The first and the second parts are available here and here.

For dates I’m sticking with Paul Allen‘s recommendation: appointments and milestones goes in your agenda, the things to do that starting at a certain date goes in your tickler file or in your electronic agenda.

For the items, in order to remember certain dates, I use this syntax:

An example: I’m waiting a CD-ROM from Paolo since 12 October, I will stress Paolo if I have not the CD for January.

- @Wait [12/10/2007>10/01/2008] Paolo's CD-ROM.

The “since” date remember you since you wait Paolo or since the item was added.
The “update” date is only for remember you when the item have to be updated (so contact Paolo and remember him that you are waiting the CD!).
The “completed” date is only for completed items: it remember you when the item was done.

Write dates is very useful just for waiting contexts.

If there isn’t a “update” date, but only a “since” date:

- @Wait [12/10/2007] Paolo's CD-ROM.

If there is only the deadline (see the caracter “>”):

- @Wait [>10/01/2008] Paolo's CD-ROM.

The completed date is optional for all the type of items, useful only if you like to know when you complete the item. It must be used only for completed items:

x @Wait [|9/01/2008] Paolo's CD-ROM.

I prefer to use day/month/year, but you can chose your preferred order. A suggestion in order to increase the readability: use always 2 digits for days and months and 4 for years.

Put dates only when is really useful for you, because you have to spend time for your job and not for your organization system. In my GTD text file, only 2% of items have a date.


With this model of text file it’s easy to write some tool or some syntax file for your preferred text editor.

I use Kate for GTD (I will write about this) and I written a tool, just few lines in Python, for sync my Palm with a short selection of contexts (if there are some requests I can publish it).

Now you have a complete system for GTD fast to write, easy to read, really portable and simple to expand with few line scripts. Good job!


2 Risposte to “GTD in a text file, the Muzzarelli’s version – part 3”. Tutti gli utenti che hanno commentato hanno accettato le note legali.
  1. Carlo scrive:

    Great article!
    It’s an interesting “simplicity oriented” approach to the GTD field. Did you never though about “mixing” GTD with “Tecnica del Pomodoro” for accomplish single activities? I think is worth to take it into consideration…

  2. Davide Muzzarelli scrive:

    Thank you Carlo.

    I do not mix GTD with the “Tecnica del Pomodoro” because I use this only for track the hours worked.

    A GTD project often is not related to only a client or a paid project, so it is difficult to track hours in a simple manner.

    So, I prefer to use GTD for organize my work (and life) and the Pomodoro just for track my work.

    I think that an organization system must be lightweight as possible. IMHO, over-organize our life is an error.

    Thank you for your question.

    I will write more about “GTD in a text file”, because there are great hidden features.

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