Usually it takes two mentions before a book recommendation starts to make waves in my radar. Right now, I am fully immersed in the ideas of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. First introduced to me by my friend Nathen, I started reading it last week at John’s house in NYC. I carried that book around with me and read it at every opportunity – Bella said, “Mom, you can’t read standing up in the subway. That looks weird.” I only got through two-thirds of the book – but I think I got the gist enough to get started. I have the book on hold at the library, but I am considering purchasing, despite my valiant attempts at reducing my home library.

The main idea is to gather up every idea/project you have going into one system – so that nothing escapes notice, and then to make sure you have a NEXT ACTION figured out for each one. That is an extremely simplified version of Allen’s ideas; if it sounds intriguing, I recommend you read the book – I don’t have time to summarize any more, because I am too busy implementing. See?

Also this guy at 43folders is very into Allen’s system and has been blogging about it for over a year – but it may be more helpful if you’ve already read the book.

Except that I will tell you what I am doing right now.

I spent the morning putting everything pertinent (every piece of paper/thing in my office) into my large cardboard box INBOX. This was easy; since most of my office boxes are still unpacked, I just hauled them over closer to my desk and made an INBOX mountain.
Then I picked one piece of paper/item up and decided whether there was an ACTION attached to that item. If there was an action that took less than 2 minutes – I stopped and completed that action. If it needed more than 2 minutes, I put it on a list. If there was no action, then I threw it away or filed it.

Some difficult rules:

Start from the top of the pile (no skipping items, or grabbing items that look easy, but are deeper down in the pile – oooh. hard one for me)

Only hold one item at a time (I like to hold 3-5, and buzz around the room)

Go all the way to the bottom of the pile (hard!!!)

These are the lists I have going so far: NEXT ACTIONS, PROJECTS,  WAITING ON, POSTS-FUTURE, and SOMEDAY/MAYBE. Each one has a manila folder and a word doc list with it.

So far, so good.