Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

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?

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!!


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