View Full Version : When "stuff" is objects (books, cloths, artwork,
11-18-2003, 03:08 PM
GTD methodology fits "stuff" that is either on paper or is a piece of paper or something analagous (computer file). Much of what I need to process, organize and do are objects. Unlike paper that goes in a folder that gets labelled and alphabitized, the objects go to different final destinations and different things happen to them enroute. Does anyone have thoughts on applying GTD to non-paper stuff?
11-18-2003, 03:16 PM
I make sure that there's an item in my project or Next Actions list referring to the object (Make cookies for Miles; send book to Cravers). The object itself goes to an appropriate holding area pending the action. I try very hard not to let such objects build up as "visual clutter", using their presence rather than my lists as a reminder, because I find that sort of visual noise highly stressful and hard to deal with.
11-19-2003, 05:51 AM
I have one shelf in the storage closet in my office devoted to holding this kind of stuff. Items there are either: 1) things I know what to do with, but I can't do anything with them right now. I have to wait for a particular date to roll around or other actions to have happened; or 2) things that are sort or fuzzy. Some decision needs to be made about them that I either can't make now or don't want to make now. I want to get the items out of sight and out of mind for right now.
If an item falls into the first category, there will be some trigger on a list that tells me to what to do with the item and has "(Shelf)" beside it to remind me to look on this particular shelf in the storage.
For items in the second category, I have a repeating to do on my list that simply says "Check shelf." That prompts me to eyeball every item on the shelf and make a decision about each one (even if that decision is to let it sit on the shelf until that same reminder note pops up next month).
If I am putting an object anywhere other the "the shelf," I always have an entry on my list that I will see at the appropriate time, such as a reminder that pops up a week before my wife's birthday that reminds me where I have hidden my wife's birthday present).
I have lots of unfinished quilt projects (about 100). I used to leave them out to remind myself to work on them. Now that I'm doing GTD I have a few less projects, but the nice thing is that I don't need to leave them out to remember to work on them.
So first, I write the desired outcome on a project list (to finish the quilt). Then I write the next action on a context list. Then I put the stuff away until I'm ready to work on it.
It's taken me a while to get used to the idea of not leaving things out in order to remind myself to do them. So now even though I'm still as busy as ever, there isn't a ton of junk lying around nagging me.
11-19-2003, 05:18 PM
In the first response it sounds like there isn't a great deal of object "stuff"at this point. It has been brought under control nicely and there is one location for items that are going somewhere else, whether they have a specific estimated te of departure or not. In the second, the object "stuff" is already pretty homogeneous and it sounds like it has been given a location, so a reference list works well. But what if you are not at either of those points in the process? What if you have a work bench in your basement and on it people in the family having been placing all kinds of things for several months--tools, items to be repaired, unrepairable objects, things to salvage parts from, instructions, odd parts that really go to valued objects that are elsewhere but need to be matched up, tools of your and friends, objects d'art borrowed to use as props in plays that need be returned or re-furbished before returning, parts of kitts and the rest of the kit is elsewhere (car, garage, etc)?
11-20-2003, 07:42 AM
What if you have a work bench in your basement and on it people in the family having been placing all kinds of things for several months--tools, items to be repaired, unrepairable objects, things to salvage parts from, instructions, odd parts that really go to valued objects that are elsewhere but need to be matched up, tools of your and friends, objects d'art borrowed to use as props in plays that need be returned or re-furbished before returning, parts of kitts and the rest of the kit is elsewhere (car, garage, etc)?
Sounds like a job for SUPER PROCESSING WO/MAN!
Notepad and pen in hand (or other favored collecting tool), approach the bench. Be brave! Process the stack in whatever order suits you, as long as there is one:
1) What is this?
<Oh, it's Jane's drill.>
2) Is it actionable?
<I need to return it to her!> <-- your next action
3) Will it take less than 2 minutes? (probably not! therefore --)
write on Next Action list under @Errands: return drill to Jane.
I would then drop the drill in my car (if that takes less than 2 minutes!) and go on to the next thing to process. Otherwise, with an IN like this, I'd have set up boxes in advance: Give Away, Throw Away, Put Away. The drill would go in "Put Away" because it has to be in the car so it's available when I'm erranding. Give Away goes straight to Goodwill, so it also goes in the car when I'm done.
The trick with these is forcing yourself to make the decision. I can think "well, I don't know what it is, but it might be important, so I won't throw it away" and drop it in the "junk drawer" only so many times before the junk drawer is bulging at the seams.
Now, the real trick might be retraining the family so the bench doesn't continue to be a giant ill-defined in-box. Or you might find some value in http://www.flylady.net/
I agree with Ambar, but I would add that you need to find a place to store the things you aren't going to work on right away. If you don't have a place in your home where you can store these "projects" then you have to arrange such a place before you can start to clean off your workbench. Obviously this is easier said than done, but it is a problem you have to solve first. In order to store my quilt projects, I have a four-drawer bureau and two sets of shelves in the work area, and some other storage areas besides. If I didn't have this storage space I wouldn't be able to work on anything because my unfinished projects would be covering my cutting table and the floor around it and the ironing board as well. It doesn't sound too different from what you have. I have mending and broken things to fix too, and they are put away waiting for me to get to them in due time. I have a few things sitting out but now I choose the ones I want to look at, things that are attractive even in their unfinished state.
I have some bulky things that are on my project list that I have in a corner of my kitchen. I have to take a clock to the store to figure out how to make it work, and it's on the floor next to my filing cabinet. I have some books to send to people and they are in a pile in the kitchen near my project files. But they aren't in my inbox or mixed up with my reading material, they're just in a spot where they can sit for a while. If they were sitting in my inbox or with the books I want to read, they'd interfere with getting other things done. I think you need to at least pile your things somewhere besides the workbench, maybe by category (to return, to fix, etc.) and have these places ready before you start processing this "stuff."
To give another example, I have a dish I have to return to somebody. I just stuck it away with my own serving dishes. I won't forget about it because it's on my errands list. I had a doily I'd been meaning to give to my brother-in-laws wife. I had on my list to give it to her. When she showed up I went and dragged it out of where it was put away with other like objects. I didn't have to keep it in plain view to remember to give it to her.
I'm not saying you can do something exactly like these examples, but what you end up doing should probably look like them in principle. I do have to say it took me about six months so far to get things organized properly at home (at work it took half a day), and I still have some room for improvement.