Reference (in Next, Waiting, Someday)

Could you add “Reference” (in Next, Waiting, Someday) ?

The tasks that have been processed and available are in Next.
When it gets blocked, it goes into Waiting.
When a tasks needs further clarification, it goes into Someday.

But sometimes, there is something (information or the fact that a task had been actioned) that I want to keep around so that it helps with future planning (in weekly reviews, etc).

While the items in Someday might one day turn into actions, the items in Reference are not meant to turn into actions. This is not to say that the References are the same as Completed actions. It is a different thing.

For example, I might have a project like this:


  • Find a hotel to stay in San Francisco


  • Buy airplane tickets


  • List of recommended SF area hotels by Jack
  • Link to BIRT system map

The reference items, in this examples, will never turn into actions. Therefore, it is not appropriate to keep them in Someday list. On the other hand, it is entirely appropriate for this material to appear in the weekly review for this project.

In fact, during the weekly review, I might move the “Buy airplane tickets” out of the completed list, and moved to reference, with all the flight information. This is not so that I can report on it, but because the arrival time + BIRT system map might actually mean something during the review, which would help with planning.

Yes, we have some great ideas around this! We have way more ideas that we can get done right now actually. :smile:

Our tree structure allows for some great possibilities like you mention above. We have a lot of basic plumbing to do first, but we do plan to do this in the future.

Is that a common view here? In that case I have a word of caution to offer. I do not see it that way at all, and I would actually be reluctant to agree that it is even GTD. The way I see it it is like this:

Next: Possible for me to do now
Waiting: Possible for someone else to do now
Someday/Maybe: Not sure whether I even want this done

@kyoken74 When you say “blocked” do you mean, for example, temporarily on hold due to a sequential dependence in projects? In the event of such blockage the task should definitely not become Waiting.

In order to make sequential automation possible, it is necessary to (either) be able to predesignate the dependent (not-yet-current) tasks for whatever “current” list (Next, Waiting etc) they are intended to be on eventually (or assume a default of Next/Focus or Inbox, and correct these deviations manually once they get “released”).

Theoretically, the same goes for the tickler file (“Scheduled”). In paper GTD these items are to be brought to the inbox for complete processing. Ideally, in an automated app, these should also be possible to predesignate in the same way for whatever list we eventually want them on - which is often Next, but could be Inbox if we are uncertain, or could also be Waiting, e.g. begin to expect a monthly report from someone on the 1st of every month.

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Ah… I think the way I described “Waiting for” is a bit of a red herring here.

I did not mean “blocked” as in a sequential project. I meant it is something to be actioned by someone else. That was my poor choice of words.

The topic being raised here is the concept of “Reference” that is not actions but may belong in a project view.

Yes, I understand that the topic of this thread is a different one than I commented on. Sorry. I was a bit “alarmed”, that’s all. Thanks for the explanation.

As for the reference features, I am quite neutral. I understand that it is quite a common wish to be able to keep more than just task notes and links in the todo app. But I myself would not quite know how to use that - i.e. what kinds of reference I would keep in the task app and what to keep in my “regular” structure.

Both Toodledo and Nirvana have some “strange” features for in-app reference material that I do not know how to use. And to be honest, I have the exact same difficulty defining clear edges for what I should keep in Evernote and what I should keep in Google Drive - both are online, available in my phone, computer etc - so how should I split it up? And why?

But I am all ears.

Nirvana’s “reference” concept is disconnected from the projects, which makes it difficult to use, in my opinion.

“Reference” concept as I propose here represents any non-action items you want to keep around in order to complete the project they are associate with. Once the project is done, the reference information is also no longer needed.

I do not use Evernote or Google Drive, but I reckon I would use them for general reference, i.e. reference material that are not associated with any specific project. I just keep my files the old fashioned way… on my hard drive.

This is an area where we will have to be super flexible as everyone keeps reference materials in different ways and in different places. Our outline structure obviously gives us an advantage in allowing people to easily keep reference materials right in the app and associated closely with any project or action. However, over time we will also allow for links to other reference materials like Evernote, Onedrive, Dropbox, etc. Finally we will also have the ability to upload attachments. Notice I’m not saying when we will do all this, but it is on our list. Lots of more important things to do first! Great discussion, thank you!

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Another thought on Reference Lists. In GTD, David Allen talks about lists such as “Books to Read”, “Vacations to Take”, etc. that are used during weekly planning time that might become actions.

This is what I used Nirvana’s Reference Lists for and it worked well for me.

Hi @dwm First, off, thanks for joining the forum and posting! Great to see you up here!

One thing I wanted to make sure you knew is that you can make Reference Lists today In GTD. I couldn’t tell if you were asking for this feature or just letting other know it exists.

Here for example is a Reading List. You can create any kind of list you want and it doesn’t need to be associated with one of your projects. Just use the “Info” mode in the right panel.

There are lots of ways you could use this feature. You could make one “info” folder called Reference and then have all your different reference lists in that one folder. Or you could keep them separated by area.


I have looked into these, but can’t see how to convert them from the info list into an action. I do see how you can mark them as complete there, but intuitively, I would want to drag an item off this list and into my inbox (or straight to where the action/project should go) during my weekly review.

I do admit I have not changed out the last few updates I am very impressed at the update frequency!

EDIT: I see the problem: I was attempting to drag from the left side. When I grab the move icon, is does go!

Glad you found it. We are considering changing how people drag to make it more intuititive.

Thanks - we have been quite busy!

Actually, it would be handy to be able to use lists of info tasks as templates for frequently but irregularly recurring tasks (e.g. a daily checklist with things like do laundry, mow the lawn etc) - to have these tasks entered completely with tags and correct spelling and everything once and for all in an info task checklist and from there just one-click-clone the ones you want as standalone Focused Next actions (or some other default landing position) whenever you need to do one or more of these tasks again.

Yes, this is something we are thinking about. It may be as simple as a “duplicate” setting when we implement cut/copy/paste or something more advanced. Still working up the feature idea. Thanks!