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When "getting IN to Empty" where do you put everything?

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  • When "getting IN to Empty" where do you put everything?

    I'm trying to implement GTD for the first time, I read the book and have started to set up a paper based notebook for my lists of Projects, Next Actions, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, then I added a Miscellaneous tab.

    But I'm the kind of guy that had piles of stuff everywhere on my desk and the floor around me. I started by putting it all in my inbox and then going through them one by one and just writing down what it was/delegating/or tossing. But now I still have a large stack of paper and files on my desk, what do I do with it?

    I have a lot of work that is pending at any given time and doesn't really require me to do anything yet (so they go on my Waiting For list), but what do I do with the files or paperwork in the meantime?

  • #2
    I would set up the A-Z filing system described in the book and get stuff into it. The other possibility is the tickler file so things show up when they need to be worked on.

    I have found the simple A-Z filing system has been one of the best things about GTD for me. I can retreive stuff, but not have it laying around

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    • #3
      If I plan on keeping a piece of paper, it will go in one of three places:

      1. Reference (A-Z filing for quick retrieval, even if I think I might need the document for only a few days)
      2. Tickler file (for retrieval at a later date)
      3. Circa Notebook (for papers on active projects only, alphabetized by project)

      I will generally annotate my list items with where I can find its supporting material. The only "pile" I have in my work area is the inbox itself.

      A note on the Circa: I could just as easily not use it for project support, and keep everything in my reference system instead. However, I like having my active work in one place. There have been too many meetings where I discussed a project without it being on the agenda. This way, I can ensure that I don't forget a file or show up unprepared.

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      • #4
        In addition to A-Z reference files I have an A-Z Active project file drawer for project support materials. Once done, the completed project folders get filed in the A-Z reference. If there is a project I want to activate in the future, I will keep that in the A-Z reference file and put a notation to open that in my tickler or calendar.

        The point is to know where the support material is. So, get plenty of file folders and a labeler.

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        • #5
          des, thanks for asking! I'm looking to do the initial collection this weekend, and was still confused on that same point.

          thanks also to all who responded... I think I'll implement a 2-system approach for active projects vs. true reference.

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          • #6
            Police yellow tape hack.

            Originally posted by des View Post
            But now I still have a large stack of paper and files on my desk, what do I do with it?
            You can use the police yellow tape hack. Somehow mark the pile (if it is really huge you can surround it with the yellow tape) and put a project "Process the pile" on your Project or Someday/Maybe list). Then deal with it like with any other GTD project.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by des View Post
              I'm trying to implement GTD for the first time, I read the book and have started to set up a paper based notebook for my lists of Projects, Next Actions, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, then I added a Miscellaneous tab.
              Des, just one warning: I'd be very leery of having a tab marked Miscellaneous. Why? Well, it's far too vague, and if you're anything like me, it will end up as a de facto Too Hard basket. You'll gradually accumulate a bunch of stuff in there that you don't want to think about, which will poison your system.

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