Do you have trouble finishing what you started?
Would you like to get more things done?
Are you searching for the perfect productivity app?
Lots of writers have trouble balancing their personal and professional commitments with writing. Other writers have trouble taking an idea, getting it onto the blank page and then working on this idea until it’s finished.
If you’re having these types of problems, don’t worry.
You can take lessons from the world of business and from one of the most popular productivity books of all time to get things done. You can also use a free, first-class app to manage your commitments and become a more creative and productive writer.
What is Getting Things Done?
Getting Things Done is a popular productivity and time-management system by David Allen. At the core of GTD is one tenet:
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them
GTD was originally aimed at business people, but more recently it’s gained a cult following online because it enables anyone to become more creative and productive.
If you want to get things done or GTD:
- Break projects down into smaller tasks
- Record these tasks in a list or in a trusted system
- Act on tasks in your lists regularly
- Review your progress and your wider areas of focus weekly
What is Wunderlist
Wunderlist is a free desktop, browser-based and mobile productivity app. It’s built around the creation of lists, and it supports things like:
- Real-time sync
- Due dates
You don’t have to use Wunderlist to get things done or to become a more productive writer, but it can help you manage your other commitments.
How To Use Wunderlist for Getting Things Done
Wunderlist and Getting Things Done work well together because the productivity tool and the system orientate around the creation of lists. You can use Wunderlist for GTD, and to become a more productive writer, in two different ways.
The first method involves creating the primary GTD lists in Wunderlist.
- Waiting For
- Next Action
You can move items or tasks from one list to another, and use the Wunderlist star tool to highlight important actions in these lists.
You can also use the calendar in Wunderlist to add due dates for your various actions, and enable better time management. If you want to use this method, you could also create lists for task related to the higher levels of GTD.
These levels are:
- Areas of responsibility – on this list, you could attach important documents like your personal mission statement
- Weekly Review – on this list, you could set up recurring tasks e.g. process inbox, organise email
This method worked well, but more recently I’ve changed how I use Wunderlist for GTD.
The second method involves creating lists for individual projects and using hashtags for the various stages of GTD.
Start by creating an inbox list for unprocessed tasks in Wunderlist.
Then, create lists that relate to the context of your work. For example, I have a list called ‘House’ that contains every task that must be done at home. I also have a number of lists relating to writing and blogging (both contextual projects), which you can read about further on.
Next, add hashtags to each item or task in your various lists.
The hashtags I use are:
- #WF for Waiting For
- #SM for Someday/Maybe
- #RV for Review
Again, I use the star tool to mark next actions.
I also use the notes section of Wunderlist for recording additional information about each action e.g. contacts details for someone I need to ring. This method enables me to see all the tasks related to a context by navigating to a relevant list.
I can also review my next actions using the ‘Starred’ list in Wunderlist. Most importantly, I can search all my lists using the hashtag. For example, when I search for #RV, I can see every task that requires me to review something before I can proceed.
Similarly, When I search for #WF, I can see every task that’s on hold. Wunderlist also helpfully organises the search results by list or context (pictured).
How Can Wunderlist Help You Become a Productive Writer?
I rely on Getting Things done to manage writing with other various personal and professional demands. Wunderlist helps me manage this blog and various writing projects. I use three lists to do this. These are:
- Marketing: this is where I put tasks related to blogger outreach and social media e.g. reach out to X,Y and Z and share my Wunderlist review with them.
- Writing: this is where I put tasks related to whatever post I’m working on e.g. write a review of Wunderlist.
- Website: this is where I put technical tasks related to my website e.g. buy a WordPress backup provider.
As I write several blog posts in one week, I track these in the writing list. I also keep track of my guest posts using Wunderlist.
The Weekly Review
Once a week I review all the tasks in my various lists, and I star one task from the marketing, writing and website lists. These starred tasks are my most important tasks for the proceeding week.
In other words, if I do nothing else this week, I must write a post about X, reach out to Y and setup Z on my website. This is how Wunderlist helps me write and get more things done.
How I Use Wunderlist to Manage Writing Projects
Guest posting is a good example of how Wunderlist and GTD work together. I used Wunderlist recently to write this guest post: The Productivity Secret Every Non-Fiction Writer Should Know for The Urban Muse Writer.
I started by adding a task to my Writing list: Write a post for the Urban Muse Writer.
At the beginning of the week, I starred this task and wrote the guest post.
I then submitted the post to the editor of The Urban Muse Writer, I removed the star and appended the task with #WF. This meant I was waiting for the editor of The Urban Muse Writer to get back to me.
When I received approval and a date for publication from the editor, I added this to Wunderlist’s calendar (which syncs with Google Calendar). If you’re busy, this process makes time management easier.
In the notes section of this task, I added additional information about the guest post e.g. when I last contacted the editor and what she said. I also created subtasks.
- Share guest post on social media
- Send an email to members of the Insider list about the guest post
- Track the new subscribers I acquired through guest posting
When the guest post was published, and I finished promoting it, and I marked the task as done. It’s not necessary to do this to manage your guest posting, but this process can help you become a more productive writer.
Getting Started With GTD and Wunderlist
The goal of a productivity app like Wunderlist or a system like David Allen’s GTD is to get ideas and tasks out of your head.
This way, you can spend less time worrying about what’s going on in your life and more time writing. Tweet this
If you like GTD but are less keen on Wunderlist, you can also use a paper system.
There are hundreds of productivity and time management apps and several dozen proven productivity systems available today, but Wunderlist is my GTD app of choice.