GTD Read-Review Ideas


For those of you who are GTD’ers, how do you manage your digital “read-reviews”? I save all PDFs and Word docs that I have to read in a Dropbox folder. I was thinking about whether I should just save them into OF as attachments. (As far as web reading, I’ve been saving links in OF instead of using read-it-later services, which has the benefit of keeping everything in OF and I have one place to look for any and all of my tasks.) I have been rethinking this process and was curious how others address this issue.


Personally I don’t think I’d want to bloat my database storing a lot of embedded content, much of which I may not even look at again. You can attach files linking rather than embedding the data, which should work as long as you keep the originals in the same location in your Dropbox.


I’m not a big fun of bloating my OF database. I’ll put stuff in Dropbox or Instapaper for later reading. Then I make an appointment with myself (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon) to breeze through my read-reviews. My first pass is to go through each item (PDF, Word Doc, Instapaper post) and consider it for deletion, deferring it to someone else who I think might benefit from it, or save it to my Devonthink database. Then I create a task to handle the item I saved. If it’s something to explore further, I might enter a task such as R&D Social Media Marketing in Instagram into OF. This means that I intend to either start a project or research a subject further.

Most of the posts end up in the trash can. Many articles have a short lifespan and is only worth it in the moment. I need to be able to take at least 1 action item from a post to consider pursuing it further. Otherwise, it’s mostly entertainment.

Set aside time each day to work through your OF reading links, PDFs, and Word Docs. Make it a small appointment. Maybe 10-30 minutes every day. During the weekly review, I’ll go through these someday/maybe ideas generated from the reading material and decide to expand on it further with some more brainstorming (GTD natural planning model) or just kill it. Sometimes a project might take up more energy, time, and resources than I’m willing to give. I might delegate it to someone else or just kill it.


I put the things I want to read into Evernote, then add an OF task in my [To Read] project with a link to the item.

I leave my [To Read] project paused so they don’t show up in available.


I save so many things that I might want to read (links or documents) that I’ve never attempted to capture them all in OF.

I keep only a general reading shortlist in OF where each item has a link to the article or document. Like other respondents, I don’t want to have lots of large attachments in the OF database, and the experience of opening, browsing, or searching a set of documents (often PDFs for me) is better if they are stored in a cloud folder or sometimes Evernote.

I’ll add to this reading shortlist either immediately when I encounter an item which I will definitely want to read, or during my weekly review when I look at all the folders or apps where I’ve saved things to read (in effect these are additional inboxes; being able to save items there with minimal friction is worth the cost of having multiple places to look at later). I’ll order the items in this shortlist so that I can just look at the first item when I want to read something I’ve already curated (and this ‘first available’ reading item is included in some of my ‘doing’ perspectives).

Whenever reading an item is necessary for one of my projects, I’ll include it there.

I give all these items one of two tags: ‘Read’ for casual or short reads, or ‘Focus Read’ for demanding texts requiring my concentration.

I have a master ‘Reading’ perspective which displays:

  • All items tagged for reading in my goal-oriented projects
  • The first available item in my general reading shortlist
  • The first available item (oldest) for each newsletter or periodic media which I track in OF.

It returns individual actions grouped by project; this provides a nice overview of everything that I want to read.


@Matt78, @wilsonng, @mtrifiro, and @MultiDim - Thanks for all these great responses thus far. All of which seem to tell me I should stay the course. I’m going to experiment with some other these other ideas, but I appreciate the caution about bloating. @MultiDim, I also have a two tiered read-tagging system, which has helped.


Recently, reluctantly, I began using the chrome browser and gmail. After a period of adjustment, I could not be more happy. (This gets relevant to the topic in a moment)

The killer use case is when I get an email that I have to act on, I create an omnifocus task and paste the URL of the email into the note. Then I can simply archive the email, basking in the knowledge that I can access it immediately when necessary.

From there it was easy to extend the same trick to files, which I park in a gDrive. So both my o’focus database and Evernote can stay lean and clean.

Rouding out the solution, Keyboard Maestro makes capturing the various URLs very easy.


I have a zapier “zap” which sends a task to OF to check out any article I save in my read later service,

For mail I use MailMate app which has a send to OF action with or without a summary and unlike most mail apps uses the generic message:// protocol rather than proprietary ones like Spark or Airmail, so I can open the link with any mail app available to me.


Pocket is a great phone app that you can use for all web-based reading. I’ve been using it about 6 months and it’s just fabulous.