Maximize productivity with GTD templates

Head starts, unfair advantages, smart decisions. Everyone wants them. In a world that’s becoming more uniform every day, those who stand out are the ones who succeed. With GTD templates, project managers dive into progress instead of being mired in details.

A GTD template offers a plug-and-play solution when time is of the essence. Based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) process, they provide a clear roadmap to successful project completion.

At its core, the GTD methodology frees up the brain for creativity while keeping projects moving toward a successful end. It can be especially effective when combined with agile project management practices.

In this article, we’ll reveal the proper application of GTD templates and show how project managers can use them to turn projects into desired results using tools like Confluence and Jira.

What is a Getting Things Done template?

A GTD template structures David Allen’s principles for productivity. The template breaks down the key tenets of the GTD methodology and gives you a roadmap to fast and effective implementation of GTD using a proven step-by-step approach to project management.

A GTD template reduces the stress of wondering what’s coming next, giving subject matter experts (SMEs) the freedom to focus on the present. GTD templates can help agile teams stay focused and avoid exceeding WIP limits by providing clear next actions.

The importance of GTD templates

Whether it’s waterfall, Agile, or a mix of the two, traditional project management is built primarily around tasks. Tasks are the last planning step before an SME can act.

Seeing a list of to-dos spells disaster for creative, busy professionals. This is where GTD templates truly shine. They not only remove the stress and procrastination triggers, replacing them with clarity, focus, and the space for SMEs to create their best work, but also significantly improve time management and task prioritization.

GTD templates help you manage your time more effectively by providing a structured framework to capture, clarify, organize, and review tasks. They help prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, ensuring that the most critical items receive immediate attention while less pressing matters are scheduled for later.

Moreover, GTD templates foster a proactive approach to task management, reducing the likelihood of important tasks falling through the cracks. With improved organization and visibility into pending tasks, you can make informed decisions about allocating your time and resources, ultimately boosting productivity and reducing stress.

The principles of GTD

GTD has five core principles: capture, clarity, organize, reflect, and engage.


This step is when you lay out all your ideas. The goal is a task inbox that captures the ideas, requirements, and concerns around a particular function, person, or project. This could include tasks, projects, ideas, commitments, or anything else that has your attention. By capturing it all in one place, you free up mental space and ensure nothing is missed.


Put the ideas into categories based on importance, the necessary steps, and whose help (if any) you’ll need. Look at this step as a filter — the purpose is not to throw away ideas but to put them in the right context.


Here’s where you’ll begin to see the project(s) take shape, further triaging the items that were once ideas and turning them into projects, sending them into a waiting queue, or saving them as reference information.


Ask, “Is this still relevant?” at an interval of your choosing. Some choose to reflect weekly, while others do it daily. This review helps keep tasks in place while removing pressure from team members using GTD.

Agile reports can provide valuable insights during this reflection step.


Now it’s time to get to work. Once teams have clarified, organized, and reviewed all items, users can knock off tasks individually until they complete their projects.

When engaging GTD as a project methodology, team members experience peace of mind. With GTD, you know you’re working on the right task at the right time to achieve your desired results.

Types of GTD templates

GTD templates are versatile. Project managers tailor them to the needs of their team, stakeholders, and the project itself. However, some GTD templates are standard and should be a part of all GTD systems, including the following:

Daily task lists

In GTD, daily task lists take the form of the Next Actions template. This gives GTD users a fast point of reference to move through action items and accomplish what matters, when it matters. Users connect daily tasks in the Calendar template and isolate the Next Action items for daily tasks.

Weekly planners

The weekly planner template is critical to aligning your daily tasks with broader responsibilities. Savvy GTD users utilize weekly planning sessions to reevaluate and restructure their Next Actions list, ensuring each task remains relevant to their overall goals.

Project organization templates

Listing the topics or agenda items based on priority or relevance to the meeting objectives ensures a well-structured agenda that facilitates productive discussions.

Use Confluence’s flexible page layouts to outline and organize your agenda items.


The power of the Inbox template derives from the freedom to release all your thoughts, ideas, concepts, and moonshots in one place. GTD pros also refer to these items as life's random inputs. Others simply call the items, “stuff.” In this case, those disparate items related to a project land in the Inbox. Here's the process for moving the items from the Inbox to their relevant places in other templates.

1. Create the list: The first step to using the Inbox template is creating the list, also called the mind sweep.

2. Triage the list: Put items in the correct category. How do you know what the right category is? The GTD workflow determines which list item goes where.

Is the item actionable? 

Yes: Place actionable items in one of two places:

  • The Waiting List: Send items here if you'll need someone else's involvement before completing an action.
  • The Next Action List: Put items here if they have a deadline and you need to do at least one more step before marking them as done.

No: Put non-actionable items in the trash or on the Someday List or Reference List.

  • The Someday List: Put items on this list if they aren't relevant now but will be in the future. An example of this is an item that doesn't have a due date or any actions.
  • The Reference List: While this list has no actions, its items hold critical information for completing items on the Waiting List and the Next Action List.


How to use GTD templates

The journey of an item doesn't stop after triage. Many items from the Inbox will enter the Project List. Each project includes a weekly review planner. 

The weekly review checklist includes the following:

  • Clear physical and digital space to focus on the project at hand.
  • Write down and structure all projects, requests for updates, and action items that aren’t already in the Project Planner.
  • Review the Calendar List. Ensure you’ve scheduled each action item sooner or later than planned.
  • Check out the Next Actions List. Mark any finished items as complete. Review the remaining Action Items on the list to determine whether they need to become separate projects or should stay on the list.
  • Add innovations and ideas you’d like to test out.
  • Reflect on what went well.
  • Document ways to improve.

Now, we’ll take a quick look at each list in a GTD project.

The Next Actions List

Review items on this list and ask the following questions to move the item closer to done:

Can I complete this item in one step? If the answer is yes and you can complete it in less than two minutes, mark it as done.

Does the item require multiple steps before it’s complete? Make it a Project and list the steps for completion.

Does the item have one step, but you can’t do it in less than two minutes? Leave it on the Next Actions List and schedule it for completion at a later date.

Note: You won't lose track of deferred items because the GTD methodology calls for periodic reviews of all lists. These reviews allow GTD pros to change the status of an item, moving it from one list to another until they complete, park, or delete it.

The Waiting List

For items on this list, include the person's name associated with moving the item to done. Include a due date for the item and follow up until they have finished.

The Someday List

This list holds items that don't have actions or pressing deadlines. During periodic reviews, it's important to scan this list for potential projects, one-step items, and items that need another's assistance.

The Reference List

Without this list, nothing truly gets done. Consider it the knowledge base or directory that gives context to each item. Link reference list items to at least one item in any other list. An example of a reference list item could be a person's birthday, contact information, insight about a project from a meeting, a quote from a book, a block of text, or a link to a PDF.

The Calendar List

GTD practitioners use this list to capture important dates related to list items. Items on the Next Actions List and the Waiting List should have attached dates. You'll find those items on the Calendar List.

During periodic reviews, move dates as necessary to ensure the workflow matches your capacity.

How to choose the right GTD template

While simple, this methodology offers flexibility for the user. With this flexibility comes considerations such as the following:

Personal preferences

For instance, you could review Next Action items daily, and Project lists weekly. Or, if it suits you better, you could schedule reviews twice weekly for pressing and essential projects.

Scheduling these reviews gives users the psychological safety to concentrate on the task at hand, knowing they won’t ignore or overlook an item.

Workflow requirements

Project managers know that stakeholder requirements change. With GTD templates, adjusting to meet those requirements can be straightforward, but only with the right resources to support your efforts.

Confluence offers an array of GTD templates that are customizable to help you pivot without losing project momentum.

Use Confluence and Jira GTD templates

With Jira and Confluence Databases, project managers have a uniform, single location for organizing around the GTD methodology. Confluence Databases provide a structured way to store, connect, and manage different types of information. In addition to real-time syncing and organization, Confluence Databases allow you to define relationships between data, create custom views, and reference database information anywhere on Confluence pages.

For example, you can build databases to track project requirements, store meeting notes, manage team tasks, and organize customer research all in one place. Databases also support various field types including text, date, people, and pages. This flexibility allows you to model information to fit your specific use case.

Moreover, the seamless integration between Confluence Databases and Jira enables a powerful project management workflow. You can sync Jira issues to a Confluence Database to get a full picture of the project status, priorities, and dependencies. Any updates made in the linked Jira issues are automatically reflected in the database, ensuring the information is always up-to-date. This integration bridges the gap between planning in Confluence and execution in Jira.

Complex projects call for smart systems

Connecting Confluence with Jira simplifies the execution of complex projects. Use Jira boards to prioritize, track, and manage work from beginning to end. For instance, smart links connect Confluence and Jira for efficient project management through both tools. 

The key benefit here is knowing complex items on GTD lists will have a clear, coordinated delivery plan through Jira's interface. Moreover, the visibility of action between both tools allows for comprehensive status updates and frictionless review cycles.

Confluence also includes page elements, such as tables, statuses, action items, dates, assignees, and decisions.

GTD templates: Frequently asked questions

How often should I update my GTD templates?

During your periodic reviews, solicit feedback on the structure of the Getting Things Done list templates. Consider whether you're collecting enough information to complete projects and modify the templates to fit your team’s needs.

What’s the difference between GTD methodology and the Agile framework?

While GTD and Agile have some similarities, they’re fundamentally different methodologies. GTD is a productivity system focused on helping individuals capture, clarify, organize, reflect on, and engage with their tasks to reduce stress and increase efficiency. In contrast, Agile is a project management framework designed for teams to iteratively develop products in short cycles called sprints, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and adaptability. 

However, the two methodologies do align in certain ways, such as clarifying the “definition of done,” using brainstorming (Agile) and mind sweeps (GTD) for idea generation, and categorizing items into user stories (Agile) or projects (GTD).

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