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Inline Commands

Inline commands are preceded by a colon (:) and let you add special information to each action. Although this information can also be assigned through the graphical interface, mastering these commands will speed up the use of the tool. Also, if you know them you will be able to use them when you capture stuff from your email, Evernote or a mobile application, for example.


This command allows you to add a reminder to a task, with three possible objectives:

  1. Point out that an action has to be done on a given day (deadline). These items will go directly to the Calendar.
  2. Indicate the date and time that an event takes place. Events are also kept in the Calendar.
  3. Request the system to remind you the existence of something on a specific date to rethink its situation. You will probably want to add this kind of reminders to some uncommitted actions (Someday/Maybe list) or actions to be performed by others (Waiting for list).

You must type the keyword :day followed by the date you want (a drop-down will appear with the most common options when you enter the command). You have several options to write the date:

  • Write the day of the week and the system will assign the closest date that matches that day. You can type the full name or just the first three letters:
Buy tickets to the Muse's concert :day Friday
  • Or write the name of the month and day number. You can write only the first three letters of the name of the month:
Buy tickets to the Muse's concert :day August 23
  • If it is not the current year, you can indicate it after the day, separated by a comma:
Buy tickets to the Muse's concert :day Feb 1, 2013
  • You can also write the number of the month and day separated by a slash, a hyphen, or a dot:
Buy tickets to the Muse's concert :day 8/23
  • If you type only the name of a month, long or short, the system will assign a reminder the first day of that month:
Ask for a salary raise :day Dec
  • If you type only a number of a day, the system will assign a reminder for that day in this month, or in the next month if that day has passed:
Call Michael on his birthday :day 30
  • Today and tomorrow words also work:
Clean the kitchen :day tomorrow
  • After the date, you can type the time with the format hh:mm. Optionally, you may specify AM or PM, without leaving any space (18:15 and 6:15pm is the same time):
Meeting :day tomorrow 10:30
  • To indicate the duration of an event, you must also indicate the end time (the default duration is one hour):
Meeting :day tomorrow 10:30-12:00
  • You can also remove the date from any item using the word clear:
Meeting :day clear

The system will parse the date and time that you have written in the text, assign it to the item and remove the :day command from it, if it is a correct date.

If you assign a date to an item that is in the Inbox or Next Actions list, it will be automatically moved to the Calendar. Likewise, if you remove the date from a Calendar event, it will be moved to the Next Actions list.


Unlike the :day command, the :expected command allows you to add an expected date (desired) to a task in the Next Actions list.

Important note: Expected dates can be a useful tool occasionally, but they are still “subjective dates” and if you abuse them you will lose the benefits of stress-free productivity that GTD generates. So use them wisely.

These kind of reminders may be useful in situations like this: You have a project that you need to finish in 18 months and requires an enormous amount of work, so you would need some references closer in time to keep developing the project and guarantee success in reaching the project deadline. These references, although subjective dates, would prevent you from reaching the last week with half the project undone.

This command is used exactly as the :day command:

Launch mobile app version 2.0.10 :expected June 10


This command is also used with a date (same format as :day) and allows you to disable an action until a date. These actions are called inactive or future, and are those that cannot be done until a certain date.

Imagine that next April 20 there is a concert that you would like to attend, but tickets are not offered for sale until April 1. You do not want to have this action visible since it cannot be done, so you can assign an activation date using the command :start:

Buy tickets for the concert :start April 1

All actions are active unless you assign a start date after today.

Inactive actions are saved in the Tickler file until their activation date, in which they will be automatically moved to the Calendar, if they have a reminder, or the Next Actions list, if they have not.

:time, :energy and :urgent

Time available is, after the context in which you are, the first thing to be considered when you are picking the next action to do.

To use this criterion, you should indicate the estimated time required for your actions. It is not necessary that you indicate it on every single task, but it is interesting to highlight the ones that require little time, because it is the factor you will look at when you have a short work session ahead.

You can assign an expected time to an action with the :time keyword, followed by a number and a unit (minutes, min or m for minutes; hours, hrs or h for hours):

Draft a post about meetings :time 15 min

It is advisable to define what actions require very little energy to be done, so you can focus on them when you are a little tired. Use the :energy keyword followed by the word “low” to assign this flag to an action.

Read the Project Management magazine :energy low

Finally, given the context you are in and the time and energy you have, the next factor for action choice is urgency. Use the :urgent keyword to point out tasks that, for external reasons, have some degree of urgency:

Plan the implementation of the new productivity software :urgent :time 3 hrs


To get focused on the most important actions in the coming days, you can mark them by clicking the star-shaped icon that appears on every item in the action lists.

You can also type two consecutive exclamation marks !! in the text you are writing while collecting or editing a task:

Take the car to the garage !!

In all lists, important actions will be displayed before the rest, while respecting the natural order of the list.

If you set a Project or a Routine as important (using the focus option), any task they generate will inherit this mark.

:project, :goal, and :area

These commands allow you to associate an action with a project, goal, or area of focus.

In order to use them, you must first assign a one-word code to each element (project, goal, area) that you want to use in this way. Usually you’ll want to do it with the ones you use regularly. There is a code field for this in the project, goal, and area editors.

For example, if you have a “Family and friends” Area of Focus with the code “family”, you can assign that area directly in the text like this:

Christmas dinner at aunt's :area family

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