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Putting Things Away -- The Book I Want Allen To Write Next

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  • Putting Things Away -- The Book I Want Allen To Write Next

    Now that David Allen has given us Getting Things Done, I wish he would write a book called Putting Things Away. GTD dealt with actions; PTA would deal with objects. In other words, GTD has helped me to clean up my inbox; now I need a book to help me clean up my room!

    What methodologies do GTD-ers use to keep their rooms clutter-free?

  • #2
    While we're waiting for David to write PTA, perhaps we can extrapolate GTD from the action world to the object world i.e. from the realm of time to the realm of space. For instance, maybe the analogue of the "context-based todo list" is the "context-based storage area" e.g. keep related things in the same drawer. I wonder what other PTA principles we can derive from GTD . . .


    • #3
      A good book on that subject is Julie Morgenstern' s Organizing from the Inside Out. Look for it at Amazon. It came out about 5 years ago, and I read a few sections of it while at Border's one day -- it sounds like a really helpful book, and I might buy it some day.


      • #4
        Here, I found it:


        • #5
          Carrying the extrapolation further . . .

          In GTD, Actions are grouped in two ways: in Projects, and in Checklists. A Project is a set of semantically related Actions. A Checklist is a set of spatially related Actions.

          So by analogy, in PTA, Objects would also be grouped in two ways: in Toolkits, and in Bags. A Toolkit is a set of semantically related Objects. A Bag is a set of temporally related Objects. So for example, a Toolkit might consist of your printer, extra paper, and ink cartridges. A Bag might consist of empty ink cartridges, $20, and your driver's license.

          PTA works as follows:

          1. Collect all the stuff into a big pile.

          2. Process each object from left to right:

          What is it? Does it get used? If No: trash it or put it in your Someday/Maybe box.

          If Yes:

          2.1 Drop it. Object heavier than 10 kg? Put it down now!
          2.2 Give it. Is your area really the best place for this? No? Give it to someone; meanwhile, stick it in your Waiting For box.
          2.3 Store it. To be put in a specific place (a Toolkit), or simply as convenient a place as possible (a Bag).

          This is kind of neat -- from GTD we derive that the ideal room is structured according to Toolkits and Bags. Note that this does not necessarily mean metal toolkits and plastic bags -- the actual implementation varies with the person. It's the concepts that count.

          I'm sure the analogy can be carried further -- it's quite a mental exercise to translate GTD concepts into the corresponding PTA concepts. David, please write this book!!


          • #6
            I have created a new thread for discussing this extrapolation of GTD from the time domain to the space domain:


            • #7
              For cleaning rooms, I try to use the "One Year Rule" instead of the Two Minute Rule...if I haven't used it in a year, then out it goes!


              • #8
                The one year rule, just did that here. Moved in a new house last Oct, have not touched some items, did a scan for anything of importance, found none. Placed them on a 'FreeCycle list' - donation time.

                Cleaned some room on the book shelves, and cleared a small corner of the den.

                Resist the temptation to go out and purchase more *grin*


                • #9
                  I definitely second the recommendation for Julie Morgenstern's book. I bought it when it came out and it helped me a great deal in organizing my apartment.

                  Her stages are:

                  Assign a home

                  She gets you to think about how you use your space before you assign homes to things. Very useful.


                  • #10
                    Julie Morgenstern

                    Originally posted by bkgood1
                    I definitely second the recommendation for Julie Morgenstern's book.
                    BTW, I recommend subscribing to Julie's free newsletter at .



                    • #11
                      Assign a home

                      Julie also uses this "s.p.a.c.e." for time mgt. I think her Sort and Containerize are the same as putting tasks into Contexts. She takes it a step further by developing a Time Map (scheduling blocks of time for each Context) for a typical week and adding a practical step in using GTD. Then we can use intuition to prioritize within a particular Context; Schedule (containerize) your various Contexts as appointments on the calendar. Julie and David should get together.


                      • #12
                        sorting objects my way

                        Just like folders to receive papers, I find that labelled receptacles, are essential. If sorting a large group of heterogenous items, such as items that people have left piled on my kitchen counter, this is what I do. First, I have at hand: jr. size legal pad, my roledex and blank cards, calendar, labels, slider-type plastic bags of various sizes, sharpie markers (or others that write on plastic). Second, have enough suitable receptacles, such as at least a dozen plastic shoe boxes, 6 or so clear, tall narrow bottles (like baby bottles) , a few larger containers, envelopes,and trash/recycling containers. Label one box "VALUABLES and MONEY". Then set within it a tall bottle for each country's currency you are likely to find, label these clearly. Label other tall containers:good jewelry, junk jewelry, other people's jewelry, and jewelry to be fixed. Use another tall bottle for postage stamps. The rest of your boxes you can label as you go along. They will probably be an array of places (Take to... basement, to bathroom, to grandma's), contents (Cosmetics, Art Supplies, Hardware, Sewing Items) and people's names (usually family members) . Line these all up in alphabetical order and start sorting. As you go, make labels and categories as needed. "Whose?", "What?" and "To Glue" are very useful categories. As you sort, use the yellow pad to note Projects or small actions, also enter calendar dates (e.g, movie coupon expiration), and phone numbers (folowing the 2 minute rule). Here are some other categories you might find useful: Batteries, Books, Car and Errands, Craft Supply, Toys, Take To Utility Room, Medications. Then when you are tired or your containers are full, distribute to proper locations. If unsure, store "like-with-like" or "point of use" (or both!). I hope this helps. It is reducing the accumulated clutter around here but increasing my SDMB list. Beware, it is time consuming.If the items are similar to begin with (all cloths or tools or tapes, for example), it helps to think about categories first.


                        • #13
                          I third the recommendation for Julie Morgenstern's book "Organizing From the Inside Out." As great as GTD is for processing life's inputs, there are plenty of great books out there on how to organize objects. I don't see why such a book would HAVE to be written by David Allen. I used BOTH GTD and Morgenstern's book to organize my office a couple years ago.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the Organizing from the Inside Out references - I just checked out her website and it seems to have just what I need!

                            Rainer - I couldn't find a mention of her newsletter anywhere. Do you have a link?


                            Kim D


                            • #15
                              Because of all the recommendations, I listened to Morgenstein's audiobook, and found it very helpful.