Friday, October 28, 2011


"First, if it's on your mind, your mind isn't clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside of your mind, or what I call a collection bucket, that you know you'll come back to regularly and sort through."
David Allen, "Getting Things Done and the Art of Stress-free Productivity"

One of the reasons that the GTD (Getting Things Done) system works for me is that I have a lot of ideas and information coming at me.  My brain was always full with my to-do lists and ideas, but I often was forgetting things.  I didn't have a go to place for recording things, so sometimes they'd be in my personal email, sometimes in my work email, sometimes on a scrap of paper, but often just lost in my mind.  Later I'd be frustrated trying to remember that thing I was supposed to do, or feel stressed at 10PM, hoping to remember about the thing at work the next day.
In GTD, you create collection buckets.  These are physical or electronic in-boxes that allow you to place all your Stuff.  You can (and should) have more than one collection bucket, but not so many that things get lost.  My collection buckets are:
  • My personal email
  • My work email
  • My 43 folder/tickler system at home
  • My physical inbox at work
  • My Remember The Milk inbox
  • A bin we keep in the dining room
I purposely mixed up home & work items because they do blend.  In theory, every idea and to-do goes in one of these, sometimes moving from one to another.  

Although I own a smart phone, I try not to be entirely dependent upon it for recording things.  At my workdesk I ensure there is scrap paper & sticky notes for me to quickly jot down information.  Throughout my house in locations I frequent are pens and sticky notes.  I also carry a small Moleskin in my purse, so when I am out & about I don't lose something.  The reality is not everything is electronic - incoming mail, receipts, broken doo-hickeys, keys, whatnots all can be put into this system.  

There is a LOT more to GTD than simply collecting everything into a few easily accessed locations, but it is a first step.  Forcing myself to collect ideas, has helped me dramatically, both as far as my stress level and productivity.

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