Ultimate GTD workflow

A workflow based on David Allen's specs for the ultimate GTD app

Branko avatar
Written by Branko
Updated over a week ago

Ultimate GTD (Getting Things Done) workflow in Marvin is based on David Allen's (creator of GTD) released drawings for the perfect GTD app. In case you're not familiar with the GTD framework, you might want to check this article that summarizes the key ideas.

Enabling Ultimate GTD workflow

To start using this workflow, open the menu (☰), click on "Workflow Templates" → Methodologies and activate it. Before you activate this workflow we suggest creating a backup. That way you can easily get your workflow back in case GTD doesn't end up working for you.

Enabling Ultimate GTD workflow

Smart Lists → tasks getting sorted automatically

Before we go on explaining this workflow, it's important to understand that Marvin automatically populates most of the lists (Next Actions, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, and a few other lists). It does that using the Smart List feature and that means you're not supposed to manually add tasks to these lists, Marvin will do that for you. Pretty much all you have to do is set up your Master List (add categories, projects, and tasks) and give them context.

Setting up your Master List

In order to get the most out of this workflow, you should have a well-organized Master List. To do that, go to your Master List (press "M" on your keyboard) and create a few categories that represent the main areas of your life. Tasks that are related should be grouped in projects since you're more likely to complete tasks when they're part of a project.

After you're done, your Master List should look somewhat like this:

Setting up Master List

Recommended reading:

Adding context (tags)

Now that you've added some tasks and projects, it's time to give context (labels) to some of them. This workflow comes with the following labels and uses them for sorting your tasks & projects but you can of course add new ones: waiting, maybe, idea, errand, and meeting.

To add a label to a task you can edit its title and use the "@" shortcut, like this:

Adding a label to a task

Or you can use the hover button or the right-click menu.

Marvin uses the waiting label for automatically adding your tasks to the "Waiting For" list and the meeting label for adding them to the "Meetings" list. It also uses the maybe label for adding things to your "Someday/Maybe" list but in order for that to work, you'll have to connect this label with the Backburner.

Connecting the maybe label with the Backburner

To select maybe as the Backburner label, go to ☰ → Features/Strategies → Backburner (settings) and pick it from the "Choose Labels" dropdown menu:

Adding a backburner label

Lists in the Sidebar explained

Inbox - Shows all tasks & projects that are stored in your Inbox folder in the Master List.

Today - Tasks & projects scheduled for today.

Projects - Custom Screen that contains two lists: Active and Someday projects. For an item to end up in one of these two lists, it has to be a project, and depending on whether if it's on the Backburner (has the maybe label) or not it will go to Someday or Active projects list.

Next Actions - This list shows only unscheduled tasks that are not on the Backburner and are also the next step. A task is a next step when it's the first item in a project or if it's stored directly in a category. This list also doesn't show items with the waiting label.

Waiting For - Tasks & projects with the waiting label.

Communication - Custom Screen that contains two lists: Emails and Calls. For items to end up in one of these they need to have the "call" or "email" word in their title. You can modify this by going to ☰ → Smart Lists and editing a smart list.

Meetings - Items will show here when they have the meeting label.

Someday/Maybe - Shows items that are on the Backburner due to them having the maybe label.

Focus Areas - Custom Screen that contains your active projects, list of your next actions, and Someday/Maybe list.

Reference - A Smart List that selects all tasks & projects from categories/subcategories with the "Reference" name and groups them by main category. This is made as a workaround since Marvin can't store notes without them being attached to a task or a project. And in order for this list to work, you should create a "Reference" subcategory in each of your main categories. Like this:

Adding Reference subcategory for GTD workflow


This workflow comes with two alerts that notify you when there are tasks in Inbox that should be processed, or when you have projects with no next actions defined.

Smart List Day Alerts used in Ultimate GTD workflow
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