Michael Koehler

Exploring the intersection of productivity, technology, and life.


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Getting Things Done by David Allen was one of those books that just pulled me along. It spoke to a need within me, a need for less stress and more peace. I read the book very quickly, and when I finished it I knew that I wanted to try the advice in the book, but even David Allen warned that the first step could be a major undertaking.

That first step was to collect all the loose ends in my life and decide what I wanted to do with them. I could decide to trash it/forget it, file it, or I could decide that I would do something now or someday about it. But step one was to collect it all. This was both exciting and terrifying.

I reserved a weekend. I say that as if it was trivial, it wasn’t. As a husband, and father of two young children, having a whole weekend for just me took some effort. In order to ensure that I had full buy in from my wife, I piled all my physical loose ends on our bed. I had to finish by bed time.

With ground zero determined, I started in. Every thing that was not where it belonged (meaning it was not where I thought it should stay for all time) was dumped on the bed. In some cases it was obviously trash and it never made it to the bed, but, after several hours of clearing my house and car of stuff, the pile was impressive. It actually overflowed onto the floor around the bed.

The next step was to decide what it all meant. My favorite was trash. I filled several trash bags. It was a satisfying feeling. But some stuff wasn’t really trash. I had been warned by David Allen that I would need a filing system, so I was prepared. Things that need no action, but couldn’t be trashed went into the file cabinet. I actually went cheap on this initially and used inexpensive plastic stackable drawers. They worked, but after a year and half of struggling with them I replaced them with a 4 drawer metal filing cabinet. I was much happier.

With the trash and the to-be-filed handled, I was left with the clearly actionable and the I’m not sure. These were piled into plastic crates and left for day two.


Written by mwkoehler

2011/03/27 at 9:13 pm

Posted in GTD

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