How I setup Nirvana for GTD (June, 2024)

This is a walkthrough on how I currently have my Nirvana setup.

Nirvana is a to-do app built for the Getting Things Done® methodology. I’ve been using it for years now. I’ve written a lot about switching back and forth to Nirvana, but I don’t think I’ve ever published a full setup post. So here it is!

Nirvana comes with these predefined sections, and they cannot change:

The “Later” folder inside “ACTIONS” is an optional feature in the app (we can toggle it on or off in the settings). I leave it enabled to park actions that are blocked, actions that I started but had to put on hold or that I want to look at again in a couple of weeks (but that don’t fit in “Someday/Maybe” anymore).


I have my assigned Nirvana’s Inbox email address saved on my Outlook so I can capture items by forwarding an email, for example.

I also have the app Braintoss installed on both my mobiles with the Nirvana’s Inbox email address. It’s a quick way to send items to the Inbox, either by directly using Braintoss (text or voice) or by using the “send to” option from any app/web browser when I’m on my phone.

On the computer, I usually capture by using the Nirvana app keyboard shortcut (just typing the letter “I”). By the way, there are handy keyboard shortcuts to create new items on all the lists:


The tags are used for contexts, areas of focus and contacts.

Areas of Focus

I have 2 Areas of Focus: Work and Personal. It works as a global filter: I can quickly switch from one to the other using keyboard shortcuts (Shift +1 / Shift 2).


These are my current contexts tags:

I name the contexts starting with “@” because it is easier to see them in the drop-down menu when editing an action:

I also have 2 more tags to indicate GTD reviews and routine tasks.


In Nirvana, when I change an action’s state to Waiting, it will ask me to associate a contact with the task. I have a general “dot” for when I don’t want to use a tag to specify a person to a waiting-for.


After processing my Inbox, all actions will be in one of the following built-in action folders:


One of my favorite features in Nirvana is the Focus list. It’s a star I add to the actions I want to focus on today. It’s my “punch list” for the day. I usually review and update this list while I’m doing my Daily Review in the morning.


Nirvana deals with projects nicely. It’s my favorite implementation in an app that links projects and next actions. The projects list divides into these sections: Active Projects, Inactive (Later), Scheduled and Someday.

These are my lists right now:

Active Projects

A snapshot in time of my current personal projects:

Projects that I use to group recurring actions

For recurring actions that are part of my routine, I group them in a “Project” in Nirvana. I differentiate these with an emoji at the beginning of the title. So, I have :

💫Daily Reviews: these are for my Daily planning and Shutdown Routines at the end of the day. I keep a checklist inside the action itself.

🔸GTD Reviews: hold all my reviews: the weekly review, planning, mid and end of year reviews.

♻️Routines: Anything that is recurring and I that I want to see in my Focus list at the specified dates. I’m moving some of these to my Calendar. If I’m starting a new routine, I like to set it up in Nirvana first, create the habit of checking them off, and when I get used to them, I’ll remove them from Nirvana and leave all-day Reminders on my Calendar.

📚Blog – Noisy Deadlines: this is technically not a project (it’s more like an Area of Focus), but I use it for everything related to my blog. I could have created a separate Area tag for this, but I prefer to have as few Areas as possible in the app.

Inactive and Scheduled Projects

Someday Projects


I use the Reference section for checklists, links to other parts of my system, some templates and lists I like to keep that are not actionable. I can duplicate the templates or checklists from here to start a new actionable item.

So, that’s it!

Nirvana is very straight forward in terms of setup because all the buckets are already there for GTD. There is not much that can be customized, except for tags and projects. And that’s one of the reasons I have used it for so long: it’s very low maintenance and setting it up is super easy, no messy workarounds needed.


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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.