Organization

Getting Things Done: My GTD System

A few years ago, I read a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. (Google it for one billion articles about it.) It is a small book and a fast read, but that's all I did -- read it. I didn't get anything done. It was probably another year before I picked it up again, prompted by a mention of GTD (what organization nerds call it) on a web site. I slowly started to put the principles into practice. I went through a few paper-based implementations before I arrived at the one shown here.

CircaGTD

This is a junior size Circa notebook from Levenger. The pages are removable. The tabs I use correspond to the "contexts" I have (a GTD term). They are: to do at work, to do at home, to do online, to do on the phone, and to do someday. Anything that I am actually going to accomplish gets categorized onto a list within one of the first four tabs. Anything that I want to do but might not actually get done, is put on a list on the last tab. I used to track dates of entry and completion, but those ended up being unnecessary. Now, I just use a check box. When a page is all checked off, I take it out and recycle it.

I tried various paperless solutions but none ever worked as well for me as the paper-based solution. The problem with my paper-based solution is that I only looked at my notebook when I was at work, even if I carried it around in my purse. It meant that I stayed productive at work, but not so much at home. (By the way, I credit using the GTD system with a promotion to Director, and a couple of fat raises, even though I took two maternity leaves two years apart.) With my recent switch from a BlackBerry Curve to the iPhone 4, I thought it was time to give it another shot. I asked the magic Twitter if it knew a good GTD app for the iPhone and girlvaughn said that she uses ToodleDo.

ToodledoGTD

I instantly liked ToodleDo. It is a perfect electronic representation of my paper-based system. I can now attend meetings with only my iPhone and, more importantly, I use it all the time, not just at work. I have been much more productive in my personal life since downloading the app. Once I really get used to being paperless, I may give Evernote a try. It seems so daunting to me, though.


Resolution Update: July

It has been a few months since I updated about my resolution to get rid of ten things a day this year. The long gap is due to the fact that I haven't been getting rid of much. A box here or there to Goodwill and a bag of baby clothes here or there to my sister. Tonight, I got rid of 115 things in about an hour. I needed this purge of things to help me purge my mind of some heavy things I wrote in my journal. It worked. Now - well, as soon as I finish this post - I can get some sleep.

  1. Q-Tip, used and discarded while contemplating where to start (I started in the bathroom, where I was)
  2. Toner that I don't like but have been trying to use up before I open a new bottle
  3. Empty bottle of hand sanitizer that I keep thinking I am going to refill but never do
  4. Lip gloss that tastes gross
  5. Lipstick sample that I hate because I don't wear lipstick
  6. Lip crayon that I got from my sister but is really too dark for me
  7. Smokey eye shadow kit because I have the exact same colors in another palette
  8. Mascara sample
  9. Mascara sample
  10. Eye pencil sharpener because I have another one
  11. Shower scrubby that is past its prime
  12. Nivea creme sample that I have had for ages and never used
  13. Apricot scrub sample because I don't use that kind anymore
  14. Moisturizer sample
  15. Cleanser sample
  16. Night cream sample
  17. Shampoo sample
  18. Conditioner sample
  19. Shine serum sample
  20. Tampon, last in a box of a brand I hate
  21. Pad, last in a box of a brand I hate
  22. Reusable bag because I needed something in which to put the items for donation
  23. Makeup case that is too small and dark
  24. Sesame Street ponytail holders (6) because we shaved my daughter's head and by the time she can use them again, she won't be into Sesame Street
  25. A collectible spoon I bought my mom in Nashville; it's going back to my parents' house to stay with her collection (I moved on to my closet at this point)
  26. Slacks I wore once and which didn't fit well
  27. Gold flats with no arch support
  28. Sweater with a hole in it
  29. Sweater I wore when pregnant that makes me look pregnant
  30. A cooling fan for my netbook that is a piece of crap
  31. An empty jewelry case
  32. A placemat that has no mates
  33. An old thermometer
  34. Ointment sample
  35. Ointment sample
  36. Old nail polish
  37. Ointment sample
  38. Cheap plastic ring with a green stone
  39. Button
  40. Soothing eyepad sample
  41. Empty Ziploc bag that was holding those samples
  42. Empty Ziploc bag that was holding random stuff from my husband's nightstand from when we moved
  43. Tan bra
  44. Black bra
  45. Newspaper from the day my youngest daughter was born that my mom wanted me to keep but I hate keeping stuff like that
  46. Hello Kitty Christmas stocking
  47. Alarm clock that I love but that is pretty useless as an alarm clock
  48. Sleep mask that is a little too tight and gives me a headache
  49. Broken booklight
  50. Pack of heavy duty felt pads that go on the chairs to protect the floors
  51. Surface protection variety pack
  52. Outlet plugs for childproofing (one bazillion)
  53. Massage roller that never gets used
  54. Another broken booklight
  55. Ticket stubs (2) from a tour of the CN Tower years and years ago
  56. Half used roll of gift wrap tape
  57. Pen with turquoise ink
  58. Bathroom cabinet
  59. Picture rail
  60. Fleece-lined Crocs that I bought to use as slippers but which make my feet sweat
  61. Another pen
  62. Baby wash sample
  63. Swiffer duster handle
  64. Mostly used roll of packing tape
  65. Massage oil sample
  66. Floss sample
  67. Surge protector older than any other piece of technology in this house
  68. Door stop that doesn't work on any of the doors in this house
  69. Diet Pepsi bottle (I moved on to my nightstand)
  70. Used Gap gift card
  71. Empty necklace box
  72. Receipts (including the one on which I wrote this list)
  73. Fake gold necklace
  74. Heavy chain necklace that was a free gift with purchase
  75. Pink bead necklace
  76. Green bead necklace
  77. Orange box in which I kept those necklaces
  78. Green box in which I used to keep other necklaces
  79. Broken vibrator
  80. Used batteries (4)
  81. Box in which I kept THAT THING
  82. A nearly empty bag of chocolate chips
  83. Empty water bottle (I moved on to my husband's nightstand)
  84. Cough drop wrappers (dozens)
  85. Used tissues (gross)
  86. Empty medicine blister packs
  87. An appointment card for my esthetician
  88. Trouser socks (3 pairs) (I moved on to one of my dresser drawers)
  89. White socks (8 pairs)
  90. Black socks (4 pairs)
  91. Lingerie bags (3)
All that and I never left my room. Well, I did take out the trash and recycling when I was done. Tomorrow, I will take the donation bag and box out to the garage until the next donation pick-up day. It feels good to get rid of stuff.

Resolution Update: Day 90

If you recall, my New Year's Resolution was to get rid of ten things a day. With all the moving, packing, and purging that I have done, I would be that I have gotten rid of 900 things this year. That number makes me sick, especially when I think of how much stuff there is left in my house.

I downsized from a four-bedroom, 2000-s.f. house with  a three-car garage to a three-bedroom, 1400-s.f. (maybe) house with barely a two-car garage. We're not done unpacking yet, but most of our stuff fits. With each box I unpack, I get rid of a few more things.

I was at an impasse in the living room until a couple nights ago. I simply could not figure out how to fit our home office furniture into the living room. At our old house, we had a living room, a family room, and a home office (the fourth bedroom). We had to combine all the functions of those rooms into one room in this house.

As I was sitting in the living room, staring at boxes still packed, and furniture shoved up against the walls, I thought, "Why am I holding on to the office furniture?" We didn't even use most of it at the old house. I have two desks, a three-drawer lateral file cabinet, a smaller cabinet with one lateral file drawer and one sort of open area with a roll-up style door, and a hanging cabinet. We also have a huge laser printer/fax/copier/scanner. We have used all the functions of the printer, but we no longer have as much need for it as we once did, plus we still have my color inkjet printer, but that isn't networkable.

I couldn't understand why I was unwilling to let this IKEA furniture go but, if I needed to, I was going to sell my giant teak china cabinet that took me a year to find.

This weekend, I am taking pictures of the office furniture and putting it on Craigslist. I will keep one desk and the two-drawer cabinet. Those two pieces will fit easily into a corner of the living room.


Resolution Update: Day 69

We have finally moved. Unpacking is going very slowly. Part of the problem is that we don't have a new washer and dryer yet, so I spend most of Saturday at my mom's house doing laundry instead of unpacking. We should be able to get a set this weekend. We decided not to cheap out -- to get what we really want and plan to keep them for a long time -- so we had to wait for another pay day to roll around.

Because the unpacking is going so slowly, the getting rid of things has slowed down as well. I am probably not getting rid of things at a rate of 10 per day right now, but I have not given up completely. I just put two boxes out for a donation pick up on Monday and I expect to have two more boxes to put out next Monday (along with a desk the former tenant left behind). Once the rate of unpacking picks up, so will my daily rate of getting rid of things.


Resolution Update: Day 42

Oh, it's been a month since I posted? That's because I have been busy getting rid of things. In the past 30 days, I have easily given away or thrown away or recycled well over 300 things that were cluttering up my four-bedroom, 2000-square-foot house. We are moving a week from tomorrow into a three-bedroom, 1400-square-foot house, so I have not just been organizing and decluttering, I have been downsizing as well.

The downsizing was not going as well as the organizing and decluttering until recently. This week, I sold a kitchen table set, and a matching couch and love seat. The buyers of our house bought two of my side chairs and our refrigerator. I was hoping they were going to buy our beast of a bedroom set as well, but they decided on something else.

This week, I am mailing off a package of toiletries to the troops in Iraq, via anysoldier.com. I had a basket with lots of travel size toiletries that I kept in the spare bathroom for guests. My husband suggested donating them to deployed troops (he is a veteran of the first war in Iraq) and @staceylt, a military wife recommended anysoldier.com to me. I found a unit that specifically wanted toiletries and hadn't received much so far. This unit had a good number of women and also requested pads, so I bought some of the ones that come with a wet wipe attached. My BIL works in a health food store and had tons of samples of all-natural toiletries and muscle pain creams and things like that, so I threw that stuff in, too. That box is crazy heavy.

The next week is going to be light on the getting rid of things because we will be concentrating on packing and moving. As we unpack in the new place, I expect for many neglected areas to be freshly organized and whipped into shape. I don't anticipate a problem with continuing to get rid of ten things a day, at least until later in the Spring.

 Here are few things that I know are on the chopping block after we move:

  • Old bike, two pairs of roller blades, safety gear for roller blading, softball gear and soccer gear. We are going to take it all to Play It Again Sports and trade it in toward a treadmill.
  • Two motorcycles.
  • A ton of baby clothes. The baby is ready to go up to the next size, but I won't have time this week to go through the next batch of hand-me-downs from the toddler.
  • More toys
  • Half the stuff in the home office because that is the one room I didn't get to (again...always) and we don't have a home office in the new place. I am going to try to use a corner of the living room, but I am not exactly sure how well that is going to work out. I may be getting rid of our big, three-drawer lateral filing cabinet from IKEA, which I really like, so I will be sad about that one.
  • More kitchen stuff
  • Cleaning supplies. I swear they multiply in the closet.
  • Broken bamboo rug (did not fare well in the home office)
  • Woven rug from Pottery Barn
  • Picnic basket
  • Baby's exersaucer, travel swing, doorway jumper
  • Curtain rods and curtains. I am not sure how our window covering configuration is going to transfer yet to the new place. I think we will have some excess.
  • Baby bedding set
  • More books
  • Bathroom rugs (we have two bathrooms instead of three now)
  • Creepy things that I don't like that were given to me that may get "lost" in the move

Resolution Update: Day 11

Things I got rid of since the last update:

2 pack-n-play sheets

19 cardboard coasters that I only used for birthday parties

1 Hello Kitty water bottle made in China

3 pairs of decorative edging scissors

2 USB drives

A bread basket with warming stone

Things I already got rid of:

13 candy canes

2 pieces of peppermint taffy

1 terrible book

1 organza gift bag

12 silver plastic chargers

12 gold plastic chargers

3 baby blankets

8 toddler pants

3 toddler shirts

1 toddler sweater

3 baby pants

4 pr kids socks

1 basket

1 pr panties (never worn, they fit like crap)

Vase w/fake rununculus

2 dish towels

2 doz votives

10 skinny taper candles

3 taper candles

1 lg earthenware bowl

2 pkgs jelly beans leftover from making turkey cake pops

1 drinking glass that I dropped on the kitchen floor

Mega Bloks bus w/driver

3 pillar candle holders

1 doz stocking stuffer toys and doo-dads

Stamping supplies

Scrapbooking supplies

3 casserole dishes

Potato ricer

Loaf pan

3 mixing bowls

Wooden salad bowls

Microplane

Mandoline-style slicer

8 disposable loaf pans

16-year-old down parka

10-year old leather jacket

5-year-old puffy pink jacket

5 pairs of pants

3 sweaters

2 bathing suits

2 pairs of shoes

3 belts

More of my clothes

Baby clothes

Baby shoes

Bibs

Diaper bag

Insulated bottle cooler bag

Baby play mat

Bumbo seat

12 champagne glasses

5 cookbooks

Toys

Children's books

Wrapping paper, bows, etc.


I make things more difficult than they need to be.

My New Year's resolution to get rid of ten things a day was a continuation of what I'd already been doing to pare down our possessions before we move to a smaller house. It isn't really about reducing the amount of stuff we own, it is more about streamlining our lives. We have very busy lives. Apparently, I am an overachiever and I won't admit it. (Several people, in different areas of my life, have pointed this out to me recently. I still don't buy it.)

I had a set of three ceramic mixing bowls from my mother-in-law. They were pretty and went well with our kitchen decor. They also weighed a ton. I nearly gave myself a hernia every time I took them out of the cupboard. I had those mixing bowls for five years. Last month, I did more baking than I normally do and it became apparent that I had to get rid of those mixing bowls. It wasn't an easy decision, though. They are nice. They were a gift. They are functional and in great condition. But, I had to ask myself this, "Do they make my life easier?" No, so they go. They went.

I wanted to replace them with plastic mixing bowls with a pour spout and rubber grips, so I put a set of those mixing bowls on my Amazon wish list. And, just as I was getting to this part of the post, I thought, "You have a good job, jackass, why don't you just buy them for yourself?" [please hold]  So, I just did, along with a new mandoline slicer to replace the comically dangerous one we used to own and new measuring devices that will help us reduce the number of them we need to own.

For some reason, I don't like to buy new things that would make my life easier if I already own something that is performing basically the same function. A few months ago, I finally bought a new trashcan to use for recycling in the kitchen. The lid had broken on the old stepcan and no longer worked with the pedal. It pissed me off every time I had to lift it to put something in there, or it fell on the floor because it sat at a weird angle on top of the can. I lived with that broken thing for a year. A year! What the hell is wrong with me?

Last night, I bought 100 paper coffee cups with plastic lids. I finally said, "Screw the environment." I am tired of having every cupholder in my car filled with a dirty glass from my house. I take a drink with me to work in the morning, but I can't bring the glass in when I get home because my hands are full with kids. Once I get into the house, I have to let the dog out, get the baby's bottle, and get the toddler's dinner. Then, I forget to go back out, and I bring a new glass out in the morning. Now, I can just throw away (recycle) the dirty cup when I get to work. Seriously, the environment can suck it.

The next thing I am going to do is buy duplicates of some of my make-up and moisturizers so that I can keep a little bag in my purse. I tried putting my regular make-up bag in my purse but then I would be too lazy to go downstairs and fish it out in the morning when I wanted to put on make-up, so I ended up carrying it around all the time and never wearing make-up.

This is so obvious, but it has taken me 35 years to figure it out.


Resolution Update: Day 8

Things I got rid of since the last update:

I nearly forgot about getting rid of stuff last night, then I spotted a crystal cookie jar on my countertop that was only supposed to be there for the holidays, so I got rid of:

13 candy canes

2 pieces of peppermint taffy

Things I already got rid of:

1 terrible book

1 organza gift bag

12 silver plastic chargers

12 gold plastic chargers

3 baby blankets

8 toddler pants

3 toddler shirts

1 toddler sweater

3 baby pants

4 pr kids socks

1 basket

1 pr panties (never worn, they fit like crap)

Vase w/fake rununculus

2 dish towels

2 doz votives

10 skinny taper candles

3 taper candles

1 lg earthenware bowl

2 pkgs jelly beans leftover from making turkey cake pops

1 drinking glass that I dropped on the kitchen floor

Mega Bloks bus w/driver

3 pillar candle holders

1 doz stocking stuffer toys and doo-dads

Stamping supplies

Scrapbooking supplies

3 casserole dishes

Potato ricer

Loaf pan

3 mixing bowls

Wooden salad bowls

Microplane

Mandoline-style slicer

8 disposable loaf pans

16-year-old down parka

10-year old leather jacket

5-year-old puffy pink jacket

5 pairs of pants

3 sweaters

2 bathing suits

2 pairs of shoes

3 belts

More of my clothes

Baby clothes

Baby shoes

Bibs

Diaper bag

Insulated bottle cooler bag

Baby play mat

Bumbo seat

12 champagne glasses

5 cookbooks

Toys

Children's books

Wrapping paper, bows, etc.


Resolution Update: Day 7

Things I got rid of since the last update:

1 terrible book

1 organza gift bag

12 silver plastic chargers

12 gold plastic chargers

Things I already got rid of:

3 baby blankets

8 toddler pants

3 toddler shirts

1 toddler sweater

3 baby pants

4 pr kids socks

1 basket

1 pr panties (never worn, they fit like crap)

Vase w/fake rununculus

2 dish towels

2 doz votives

10 skinny taper candles

3 taper candles

1 lg earthenware bowl

2 pkgs jelly beans leftover from making turkey cake pops

1 drinking glass that I dropped on the kitchen floor

Mega Bloks bus w/driver

3 pillar candle holders

1 doz stocking stuffer toys and doo-dads

Stamping supplies

Scrapbooking supplies

3 casserole dishes

Potato ricer

Loaf pan

3 mixing bowls

Wooden salad bowls

Microplane

Mandoline-style slicer

8 disposable loaf pans

16-year-old down parka

10-year old leather jacket

5-year-old puffy pink jacket

5 pairs of pants

3 sweaters

2 bathing suits

2 pairs of shoes

3 belts

More of my clothes

Baby clothes

Baby shoes

Bibs

Diaper bag

Insulated bottle cooler bag

Baby play mat

Bumbo seat

12 champagne glasses

5 cookbooks

Toys

Children's books

Wrapping paper, bows, etc.


Resolution Update: Day 6

Things I got rid of since the last update:

(I went a little nutso last night.)

3 baby blankets

8 toddler pants

3 toddler shirts

1 toddler sweater

3 baby pants

4 pr kids socks

1 basket

1 pr panties (never worn, they fit like crap)

Vase w/fake rununculus

2 dish towels

2 doz votives

10 skinny taper candles

3 taper candles

1 lg earthenware bowl

2 pkgs jelly beans leftover from making turkey cake pops

1 drinking glass that I dropped on the kitchen floor

Mega Bloks bus w/driver

3 pillar candle holders

1 doz stocking stuffer toys and doo-dads

Things I already got rid of:

Stamping supplies

Scrapbooking supplies

3 casserole dishes

Potato ricer

Loaf pan

3 mixing bowls

Wooden salad bowls

Microplane

Mandoline-style slicer

8 disposable loaf pans

16-year-old down parka

10-year old leather jacket

5-year-old puffy pink jacket

5 pairs of pants

3 sweaters

2 bathing suits

2 pairs of shoes

3 belts

More of my clothes

Baby clothes

Baby shoes

Bibs

Diaper bag

Insulated bottle cooler bag

Baby play mat

Bumbo seat

12 champagne glasses

5 cookbooks

Toys

Children's books

Wrapping paper, bows, etc.


Resolution Update: Day 5

Things I got rid of since the last update:

Stamping supplies

Scrapbooking supplies

3 casserole dishes

Potato ricer

Loaf pan

3 mixing bowls

Wooden salad bowls

Microplane

Mandoline-style slicer

8 disposable loaf pans

16-year-old down parka

10-year old leather jacket

5-year-old puffy pink jacket

5 pairs of pants

3 sweaters

2 bathing suits

2 pairs of shoes

3 belts

More of my clothes

Baby clothes

Baby shoes

Bibs

Diaper bag

Insulated bottle cooler bag

Baby play mat

Bumbo seat

12 champagne glasses

5 cookbooks

Things I already got rid of:

Toys

Children's books

Wrapping paper, bows, etc.


New Year's Resolutions

Sometimes I do new year's resolutions, sometimes I don't. This year, I've been trying to make some changes in my life and I'm continuing those into 2010. Those don't count as resolutions. I have one resolution this year: to get rid of 10 things a day.

Yesterday, I donated easily 100 toys and books to a local charity. They're going to have to make my house a regular stop on their weekly route. Today, I'm packing up all of my scrapbooking and stamping supplies and sending them to my mother-in-law at her winter home in Florida so that she can have crafty things there, too. This weekend I'll also get rid of some of my holiday decorations and some kitchen items.

Did you make a new year's resolution?