Getting Things Done: Processing Your Stuff – Time, Space + Tools

Today’s installation of David’ Allen’s getting things done, I’m implementing his “stuff processing” method on my filing system. Although, I must confess, it’s already in pretty good shape. In this chapter, Allen states that his method is all about “tricks” (hacks!) and sometimes one great trick can make going through the whole process worthwhile. I totally agree, as I’m a committed lifehacker.. I’m talking about little tricks/cues/hacks like leaving the tote bag on the front door knob to prompt me to remember to bring replacement clothes or diapers or burp clothes with us to daycare in the morning. It’s the little things… According to GTD:

“You increase your productivity and creativity exponentially when you think about the right things at the right time and have the tools to capture your value-added thinking.”

Ideally, over time and with the right tools in place, managing your workflow would become automatic. Anyway, if you’re into it, here are his steps to processing your stuff into a manageable filing system:

• Set aside the time and prepare a workstation with the appropriate space, furniture and tools (ideally two whole days, back-to-back)

• Set up the space – the bare bones is a desk surface and an in-basket; if you work outside the home, you should also have a satellite system in your home. Focused work space: work, home, if possible – in transit. Don’t share space – you should have your own physical space in each of those locations – don’t split the desk with yo’ man.

• Gather basic processing tools: paper holding trays (minimum 3), stack of plain letter printer paper, pen, 3×3 post-its, paper clips, binder clips, stapler/staples, scotch tape, rubber brands, label maker, file folders, calendar, trash/recycling bins.

Set up your filing system – file drawers, folders, labels, logical basis of organization. No hanging files if possible – this is controversial – hanging folders less efficient because of the effort it takes to make a new file ad hoc and the formality it imposes on your filing system.

Once you know how to process your crap and have a reliable system established, you really just need to create and manage lists – so you might want to add a planner/notebook into the mix once this processing step has been completed. I got these cute new Jonathan Adler file folders so that I have something pretty to look at for my home office filing system.


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