Discard? File Away? Sometimes, Both.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Over at Unclutterer, Jeri Dansky advocates an eclectic approach to getting organized and staying that way.

Image by STIL, via Unsplash, license.
[M]any people do tend to think of GTD [David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodology] as an all-or-nothing system. But when I read this book, or any other book describing an organizing system, I see a collection of ideas from which I will pick the ones that work for me (or for my clients).

The two-minute rule says that if a task can be done in two minutes of less, just do it now rather than putting it on a to-do list. If that concept that works well for you, terrific -- go for it! But you could ignore this rule (or shrug your shoulders because you're already doing this) and still find other parts of GTD that are helpful to you.

Another example is Marie Kondo's KonMari method, as explained in her books. (I've just read the first one, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.) Someone asked me this week if I like her work, and I said I did -- because I found many interesting and helpful ideas in her book. For example, I'm never going to fold my clothes her way or unpack my purse every night, but I think "Does this spark joy?" can be a useful question to ask about items you own while you're uncluttering.
I'd go farther and say that I often see principles for organizing in such works, which can help in deciding what advice to take as is, what to modify, and what to ignore. Allen's advice, for example, is best for people on a manager's schedule. But as someone for whom a maker's schedule better suits much of my main work, his advice can still be helpful for those times I need to function more like a manager -- such as while I am on errands of doing chores at home. I'll use the two-minute rule during those times, but I'm not about to make a "quick call" if something randomly reminds me of one while I am in the zone.

And this (perhaps) slightly different approach leads me to a different conclusion than Dansky's:
So gather as many ideas as you like -- from this site, from organizing books, etc. And then keep the ideas that work for you, combining them into your own personal system, and merrily discard the rest.
I wouldn't go so far as to discard the rest as to file them away for possible later use. I have found at times that either my needs have changed or that being better organized has caused new questions about organization to arise. For example, I am having to re-think periodic reviews right now, and will be dusting off David Allen's book to see if there is something I missed years ago that can help me now.

Changes in circumstance and simple learning can respectively cause one to need new techniques or make one ready for them long after a first encounter.

-- CAV

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