Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Great GTD Collection Effort

OK. So, it's time to get your process moving with GTD collection. The first thing I always do when I process is collect everything together in one place so I can get a picture of what I have to do. The great thing about collection is that it doesn't really require any heavy decision making. You just go get everything and put it in one central location.


It's easy though to leave stuff out that you need to collect. That's why, I recommend grabbing a yellow legal pad and writing down each and every place you collect from. Then, make a checklist of those spots.

Today, I started getting everything together as part of my GTD Thirty Day challenge. I wanted to make sure that I did the easiest thing first and that was just to start with GTD collection. Here's what I did:

  • Get mail from 11650

  • Get mail from 1508

  • Get mail from 12814

  • Pick a nice spot to put everything

  • Make sure I have a trash can

  • Gather all stuff from the car (my largest inbox)

  • Check glove compartment

  • Check trunk of car

  • Collect all papers from inbox and all supplies from butler's pantry

  • Remove all papers from inbox and supplies from from briefcase

  • Make sure I have all capture tools and put in my inbox

  • Look around house or hotel for loose items

[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignright" width="160"]Collect all of your stuff in one spot. Collect all of your stuff in one spot.[/caption]

This clear the decks approach at least gets everything in one spot. It also cleans up things a bit for me as far as my car, home and office goes. You'll notice, too, that I collected my mail first to make sure I had all paper in my inbox. Right away, this creates some momentum for me to keep going and at this point I have two basic types of stuff--stuff I have to do and stuff I have to put away. And then, I continue my checklist:

  • Separate all supplies and nonactionable stuff

  • Put all actionable stuff in a stack back in the inbox

  • Throw away all trash, shredding as needed

  • Put away all supplies, reference material and other miscellaneous items

This usually leaves me with a large stack of papers that I need to process. I like to then take another step to further whittle down my pile before I start processing by taking the additional set of steps:

  • Sort out all trash and throw it away

  • Sort out all items that need to be shredded and shred them

  • Sort out all things that can be filed

  • File all items that need to be filed

  • Put all papers that require action in my inbox

To me, there are only two parts of this process that can hang you up. The first is putting everything away and the second is filing everything. If things get stuck here with you, I suggest that you handle these two problems by making sure your A-Z reference files are set up efficiently and you make sure that you create spots for everything to go. For example, I have a lot of electronics I carry around that include wires and stuff.

At first, filing and putting stuff away caused me problems, but once I streamlined those, it made it flow much easier. It all goes back to the first thing you need to do is make sure you have all your organizational "buckets" set up. The other thing is that if you have just started GTD, you'll have a lot of collection you need to do. Just slowly get it all in one place, separate all of the urgent stuff, get it in your inbox. Then, work on slowly adding that other stuff to your inbox over time.

I know that when I first started, I had a ton of paper. I'd bet two-thirds of it was just stuff that needed to be trashed, shredded or filed. Getting all of the nonactionable stuff out of your system is easy, but time consuming. And, all that stuff makes it seem like you have so much more to do than you really do.

At the end of your GTD collection run, you should have a stack of things you need to process,  and then be ready to start processing.

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Michael Kuhn

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1 comments so far

I'm finding GTD ridiculously useful, especially now that I've sprung for some great software to file all my notes. I'm not sure how much is that I'm actually getting more done and how much is just having everything organized, but either way, I'm feeling much more in control though it would have been hard to be less.