The relative quiet around here hasn't been a sign of malaise. Instead, it's been an indication that I've been deeply engaged in activities that take me away from the blogosphere...and for good reason.

At the beginning of the year, I think I tripped an internal circuit breaker on clutter--in my office, in my house, in my brain. I didn't make any resolutions, per se, but I started looking seriously at how I could find a way to reduce clutter and the stress that it causes.

For dealing with household clutter and disorganization, I started with FlyLady. But while the basic approach is wonderful, I find the constant all-caps email reminders too much to deal with. So I went to the library and acquired FlyLady's book "Sink Reflections." From that, I learned that much of her method is derived from the book Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. And it turns out Pam and Peggy have another (more recent) book on organization called Get Your Act Together!: A 7-Day Get-Organized Program for the Overworked, Overbooked, and Overwhelmed that sounded like something Gerald and I could really use to get our day-to-day activities better organized. I bought that one via Amazon, and it was money well spent--the book is well-written, entertaining, and full of good practical do-able advice. We'll see how that goes.

I've also started tackling our most cluttered areas, one at a time, in an attempt to lighten my psyche a bit. I started with the drawers in the kitchen (a manageable hour-at-a-time project with clear rewards), and I was ruthless about throwing things away. It doesn't make sense to try to store old knives and ladles for a garage sale we'll probably never have time to hold. Then I moved on to the cupboards in the dining room, which have traditionally been where we hide everything before company comes over. That was a job, but it's done now. And Gerald and I are working on the basement disaster area, as well, starting from opposite sides (I'm working through baskets, wrapping, and old toys; he's starting with the workbench and tools) and trying to clear a path. As evidence of what pathological hoarders we've been, last night I found an old plastic garbage can (the kind people put in their bathrooms) filled with the contents of our junk drawer--from Tuscaloosa. We apparently dumped it out into this container and moved it up to Rochester back in '97...and hadn't touched it since. <sigh> But we're making real progress, as evidenced by the mounting piles of trash in the garage.

On the work and mind clearing front, I've joined the growing number of geeks gone wild over David Allen's Getting Things Done method. There's no question in my mind that it's the most valuable book I've bought in a long time (and at only $10.20 on Amazon, you'd be nuts not to get your own copy). I'm carrying it everywhere with me right now. (Scoble, I'm so jealous that you got a house call!) I've got the book, and the only blog I've been reading regularly over the past week is Merlin Mann's 43 Folders.

My office has been mostly cleaned out, my piles are greatly diminished, and my files are starting to take shape. I've also jumped on the Moleskine love train, and have acquired both pocket and standard-sized notebooks, as well as a fabulous Fisher Bullet Space Pen (black matte). It turns out that all those people who say that having a high-quality notebook and pen makes a difference in your willingness to carry them with you and use them are absolutely right. I love the silky feel of the Moleskine paper, and the solid feel (and durability) of the Fisher pen. It's freed me from feeling lost and unable to work when I don't have my computer with me, and allows me to sit anywhere--not just near a power outlet!

I've still got a ways to go in implementing a full GTD approach, but even my baby steps thus far are helping me to feel less overwhelmed and out of control. And Allen's ideas for visualizing "WILD SUCCESS!" (with no "Yeah, but..."s) has helped me in getting unstuck from some important work that had really been stalled.

My next challenge will be figuring out how to balance and integrate the digital part of my GTD approach with the analog version. I've acquired DevonThink and OmniOutliner, and haven't really been able to figure out how to use them well--until this week, when I found some great sites describing how others are using them. That's how I learn best--by modifying what others have done. If you're in the same boat, I highly recommend Steven Johnson's recent post on DevonThink (and the NYTimes Book Review article he wrote on the subject), Frasier Spears' post on OmniOutliner Pro, and on the analog side, Omar Shanine's "How the Moleskine Rocked My World."

So yes, I'm still here. And doing well, thanks. I suspect I'll be blogging regularly again soon (I've even set aside a section of one of my Moleskines for blog post ideas).


I'm jealous of myself! He rocks. I've been through two of his seminars now and I'm bought in.

Thanks for this post. For me, reading about getting organized can take the place of actually getting organized . . . so it's great when someone else tests the books and reviews them. Cuts down on the amount of time I'm likely to spend on "research." :) I tried FlyLady a couple of years ago and still worry about my sink! You might be interested in a book called Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. (URL in my address might not work until tomorrow)

Great post! Now that you've consumed the KoolAid and inhaled the spores, you might dig some of these sites too...

I use the Fisher pens too; I love the fact that they'll write upside-down. I use the non-bullet style pen because I like to have a little clip; I find the bullet pen cool but too easy to lose.

I've been slowly developing my own GTD book, a little collection of forms and pockets. It does make things seem at least 33% less impossible :)

Can I ask, how do you use 43folders? I have an account at 43folders, but I find that I'm mostly using paper for my "next actions" stuff.

Lisa, you're confusing "43Things" (which I don't use) with "43 Folders," which is Merlin Mann's excellent blog on GTD and OSX issues. :)

Beth, I tend to like reading about organizing a lot more than actually doing it, too. Am trying to conquer that this time around, but it's hard.

And Bren, all of those are already in either my del inbox or my NetNewsWire feeds!

I have read many, many books on this kind of subject including GTD. Which I thought was OK. I think if you lean toward a creative personality (which I suspect you do...), you might really appreciate these books even more:

You Don't Have to Go Home from Work Exhausted! : A Program to Bring Joy, Energy, and Balance to Your Life

Time Management for Unmanageable People : The Guilt-Free Way to Organize, Energize, and Maximize Your Life

They are my favorites on the subject.

Oh, thanks! I had read a bunch of posts, and thought they were all referring to 43things. Thanks for the pointer to 43 Folders.

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This page contains a single entry published on February 1, 2005 2:19 PM.

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