GTD Cheatsheet: The Collection

This is part 2 of The GTD Cheatsheet series.

Now that we’ve set the groundwork for our GTD workflow, it’s time to put it into use. For a quick refresher (it was a long weekend), the workflow basically categorizes all of our stuff (both physical and mental) that we want to organize into whether a) it’s doable or b) it’s not doable. Simple as that. Well, not that simple, but you get the idea.

We humans traditionally have a nasty habit of keeping our junk too long. Waaaaaaaay too long. This clutter eventually inhibits our ability to stay productive. Not good friends, not good.

Getting Things Done is especially handy when you’re trying to get the “stuff” of life figured out. Things we need to buy, appointments to keep, scraps of paper, etc. etc. etc. Our mind is constantly bogged down with lots of tiny little “loops” or markers in our brain telling us to remember something. Our brain is not meant for this. The brain is meant for being creative, reasoning, processing… anything but remembering.

By applying the workflow we can easily process these things, stay on top of our productivity game, and ultimately live 15 years longer. (It should be noted that this are based on my own research experience guess.)

The Collection

The collection is an exhilarating experience. All you have to do is round up everything in your sight that you want to unclutter, process, re-organize, or re-arrange. You dump this all into your inbox. Now, if you’re like me, upon your first round-up, your inbox becomes laughably too small. I recommend sectioning off a part of a room to your “inbox”. Trust me, you’ll need it.

After you’ve gone through every single piece of anything physical that could remotely be stealing your excess brain RAM, grab a large notebook and start jotting down anything in your noggin that is nagging at your sub-conscious. This could take a very long time. Don’t be afraid.

After THAT’s all been put onto paper, toss it in the “inbox” (aka 1/3 of your living room).

Some quick tips on collecting:

  • if something is too big for your “inbox”, write down what it is that needs to be processed on a sticky note or scrap of paper, and place that into the inbox.
  • try to refrain from organizing as you’re collecting.

Before We Go On….

It should be noted that starting GTD for the first time could take hours or even a couple of days to get through, depending on how much of a packrat you are. Try to set aside a MAJOR chunk of time in your schedule for this project. When we get into the processing stage of GTD, you’re going to want this time to be uninterrupted.

Some people think that they can just do bits of organizing here and there, as they get the time. Nuh-uh. One of the best parts of GTD is how quickly you’ll organize your stuff (once you get the hang of it.) It’s a very pleasant feeling, and once you’re done you get to start off fully-organized with a new system. A clean slate, if you will.

If you’re ready to go on, stay tuned tomorrow for the next step in our little Getting Things Done adventure: The Processing.

Thanks for reading¬†the GTD Cheatsheet Series. If you’re ready to set it up using free¬†tools, check out GTD with Google Apps.

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  • Adam Pieniazek April 15, 2007, 8:12 pm

    This is kinda funny…I’ve been doing something like the GTD process pretty much my whole life. I usually don’t organize anything until I absolutely need to and then I take all the various stuff I’ve got scattered around, organize it and then a few months later everything is scattered about again!