I am an amateur hoarder. I make little piles of stuff I think I might need all over the place. I have piles of notepads full of ideas, papers with info I thought at one point I might need, magazines I leafed through that I may want to read, as well as an inbox full of emails that I may or may not get to, and boxes of stuff I thought I might find useful a from the last five years. But, I have been recently reading Getting Things Done by David Allen over the last few days. This book is about not getting overwhelmed in these days of neverending to-do lists and ever filling inboxes. One of the earliest and most important tips that this book gave me is that you should get the clutter out of the way as soon as it comes in.
I have also been working diligently to learn computer programming (at a very cool site called Codcademy). One of the more important concepts in a lot of programming languages is that everything is an object. This is called Object-Oriented Programming or OOP. If you think of everything as an object, then organization is much simpler in programming. The same is true in general life.
Everything that comes across your proverbial desktop is an object that can have one of a few properties:
It’s Useless. In which case, it goes in the recycling bin. It should receive as little attention as it deserves.
It’s Information. I think I actually have difficulty discerning useless and information. For me this pile gets very large and the trash stays fairly empty. Looking at my friends and families piles, this might be a topic I need to cover in the future.
It is an action but you can’t do it now. Put it down on a list. Review this list on occasion to make sure that the status of these objects hasn’t changed. This list includes trips you want to take, invention ideas, businesses you could start and various other cool things.
It’s Something that will take time. In this case it will need to be scheduled. You should set aside time for it in the future. Not now. Now is the time to process these things coming across your desk. Put this object on your calendar.
It is something that will take less than 2 minutes. If this is the case you can do it now. Do it and get it out of the way. It will take almost as much time to schedule it for the future as it will to do it right away so you might as well do it now. One thing I like to do here is return phone calls, but if you have to leave a message, make sure you ask to have your call returned at a specific time so that other objects are not interrupted.
There are so many project management and productivity books on the market and yet this book, which was written in 2001 at the dawn of this technological age, is so prescient in what it sees as our future in productivity. If you feel overwhelmed with the current state of your productivity keep reading my posts over the next few days and I will have more tips on Getting Things Done.
I haven’t finished the Getting Things Done yet but from what I’ve already gleaned I would strongly recommend all read it.