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  • Revelation: GTD applies to objects, not just actions

    David -- Now that you've written Getting Things Done (GTD) which dealt with actions, I was wishing you had also written a book called Putting Things Away (PTA) dealing with objects. In other words, GTD helped me to clean up my inbox; now I needed a book to help me clean up my room! Not willing to wait, I have discovered that the GTD concepts can apply to objects, not just actions. You just need to swap the time-based notions with space-based notions:

    In GTD, Actions are grouped in two ways: in Projects, and in Checklists. A Project is a set of semantically related Actions. A Checklist is a set of spatially related Actions.

    So by analogy, in PTA, Objects would also be grouped in two ways: in Toolkits, and in Bags. A Toolkit is a set of semantically related Objects. A Bag is a set of temporally related Objects. So for example, a Toolkit might consist of your printer, extra paper, and ink cartridges. A Bag might consist of empty ink cartridges, $20, and your driver's license.

    PTA works as follows:

    1. Collect all the stuff into a big pile.

    2. Process each object from left to right:

    What is it? Does it get used? If No: trash it or put it in your Someday/Maybe box.

    If Yes:

    2.1 Drop it. Object heavier than 10 kg? Put it down now!
    2.2 Give it. Is your area really the best place for this? No? Give it to someone; meanwhile, stick it in your Waiting For box.
    2.3 Store it. To be put in a specific place (a Toolkit), or simply as convenient a place as possible (a Bag).

    This is kind of neat -- from GTD we derive that the ideal room is structured according to Toolkits and Bags. Note that this does not necessarily mean metal toolkits and plastic bags -- the actual implementation varies with the person. It's the concepts that count.

    I'm sure the analogy can be carried further -- it's quite a mental exercise to translate GTD concepts into the corresponding PTA concepts. David, please write this book!!

  • #2
    The implication of this is that from GTD we can trivially derive a methodology for keeping homes and offices clutter-free. In other words, the same logic that tells us how to Get Things Done also tells us how to Put Things Away.

    Comment


    • #3
      On page 106 (Paperback version) David lists the 4 categories of physical items: Supplies, Reference Material, Decoration, Equipment.

      As long as this is all that you have in any given physical area, and these objects are organized so that you can quickly find anything you need, then the room should be organized (i.e Everything Put Away).

      Once one gets a room in this condition, it may be helpful to have a daily or weekly "tidy" checklist of things to do to keep it this way.

      Comment


      • #4
        Naming:

        In GTD, Checklists have names e.g. @Phone. Similarly, in PTA, Bags have names. The difference is that whereas Checklist names are spatial, Bag names are temporal e.g. @FirstWednesdays.

        So for example, if you are the secretary at the local St. Vincent de Paul meetings that occur on the first Wednesday of each month, you might have a Bag called @FirstWednesday containing the binder of minutes, a pen, and the prayer cards.

        Comment


        • #5
          David wrote a brilliant piece on this very subject in one of his newsletters. I believe it was sometime late in 2003, and it was called, "What does getting organized really mean?"

          To quote:
          ---------------
          ...
          I have decided to reveal the (organizing) secret of the ages, in this very essay! Rest your weary mind ˆ the time has come to reveal the answer to the meaning of (organized) life. Ready? Here it is: Things need to go where they need to go. (Aummmmmmmmmmm).

          Ah, Grasshopper, you seem dazed with this astounding truth (or simply unimpressed?). Let me explain. When something is organized it means simply that it's where it needs to be. Where is that? In a place that reflects what the thing specifically means to you. ...

          [then he gives some brilliant examples, concluding with a kind of checklist of what things mean what, eg " I don't need or want it = trash "; then finally some other dead-on insights:]

          This is simple common sense. So why do so many people feel like they need to be more organized? Because most avoid deciding what so many things actually mean to them, which makes it impossible to know what to do with them.
          ---------------

          This has been one of David's newsletters I return to again and again, just to get myself centered! I can't find the exact date or maybe it is on the web site somewhere (?) Someone else might be able to say where to find the whole article.

          Comment


          • #6
            Newsletter in January this Year

            Originally posted by guest
            This has been one of David's newsletters I return to again and again, just to get myself centered! I can't find the exact date or maybe it is on the web site somewhere (?) Someone else might be able to say where to find the whole article.
            It was the newsletter in January this year.
            If you send me your email address I can send it to you.

            Rainer

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by guest
              David wrote a brilliant piece on this very subject in one of his newsletters. I believe it was sometime late in 2003, and it was called, "What does getting organized really mean?"

              To quote:
              ---------------
              ...
              I have decided to reveal the (organizing) secret of the ages, in this very essay! Rest your weary mind ˆ the time has come to reveal the answer to the meaning of (organized) life. Ready? Here it is: Things need to go where they need to go. (Aummmmmmmmmmm).

              Ah, Grasshopper, you seem dazed with this astounding truth (or simply unimpressed?). Let me explain. When something is organized it means simply that it's where it needs to be. Where is that? In a place that reflects what the thing specifically means to you. ...

              [then he gives some brilliant examples, concluding with a kind of checklist of what things mean what, eg " I don't need or want it = trash "; then finally some other dead-on insights:]

              This is simple common sense. So why do so many people feel like they need to be more organized? Because most avoid deciding what so many things actually mean to them, which makes it impossible to know what to do with them.
              ---------------

              This has been one of David's newsletters I return to again and again, just to get myself centered! I can't find the exact date or maybe it is on the web site somewhere (?) Someone else might be able to say where to find the whole article.
              True.
              By taking GTD to the 'next level', one is already making decisions on everything that enters into their worlds...if a thing is not where it should be, it enters the 'system', and either eventually stays, or goes. As I get deeper into GTD, more 'stuff' literally disappears from my life.

              Comment


              • #8
                Kit vs. Bag

                Originally posted by JonathanAquino
                Naming:

                So for example, if you are the secretary at the local St. Vincent de Paul meetings that occur on the first Wednesday of each month, you might have a Bag called @FirstWednesday containing the binder of minutes, a pen, and the prayer cards.
                Jonathan,

                I think that the concept of kits, as opposed to bags, is a useful distinction. Good thought.

                I'm curious about the example you cite above. I would have thought that the @FirstWednesday container would be a kit rather than a bag, since it contains everything the secretary needs for the meeting.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Scott -- Yeah, I'm starting to thing Kit would be a better name than Bag. Transforming GTD from the time domain to the space domain is making my brain hurt! I think I'm just going to read Julie Morgenstern's book.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    kit...bag

                    If I'm understanding correctly--or, in my understanding--it made sense to me that a bag is a place to collect related items into a basket or a box and keep in a logical location to process later. The tool kit sounds like a more permanent container (or area) where items are kept together because they will be used together, like the Secretary's binder, etc. I have many labeled "bags" in the form of bankers' boxes. They are the result of sorting out many different things--paper and objects--into a few categories. At some point, I want to empty these "bags", because it's time to do a collection again!

                    So, it seems that both terms are useful.

                    Are these terms used in the GTD book? I haven't read through it all yet.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Linnea - I've given up on deriving a theory for organizing objects from GTD - there's a great book that someone recommended above that I've found to be really good: Julie Morgenstein's "Organizing From The Inside Out". Great companion book to GTD.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "Organizing From The Inside Out" notes

                        In case anyone's interested in a quick overview, I took notes when I listened to the audio verson of "Organizing From The Inside Out":

                        http://www.minezone.org/wiki/MVance/...omTheInsideOut

                        - Matt

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hmm -- Matt, I thought your famous GTD outline was based on the audiobook! Now I know!

                          I love audiobooks. The ideas sink into my head better. (And I've listened to Morgenstern's audiobook too).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I keep thinking of the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place”.

                            I have no problem putting things in their place; the real problem is creating sensible/functional/easy-to-remember places to put things in.

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