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File 13 and GTD – When All Else Fails, Trash It!


Have you read David’s book on getting things done? I finally got my hands on a copy last week (free from the library!) and I’m starting to dig in. Hopefully my productivity will go through the roof.

The first thing that stands out to me is the importance of the trash can. In quite a few places, David reiterates that we should purge, trash, recycle, and get rid of things we don’t need. Why? How do you know what you don’t need?

Trash the clutter

Stuff clutters space. That’s a fact of life. The more junk you have, the harder it is to organize, and the more difficult it becomes to find what you need. Trusty file 13 provides the solution.

But what if I need that piece of trash later on? That’s where GTD comes to save us!

If not actionable AND not reference = TRASH

Yep, it’s really that simple. I’ll even claim that you can apply this simple formula to anything in life. Take that little trinket that’s sitting on your desk right now. You know the one. Does it do something for you? If not, does it have some sentimental or emotional or reference value? If not, why do you have it? TRASH!

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the way David outlines the beginning of the GTD workflow. When you finally get to the almighty processing stage of your inbox, you simply ask these two easy questions: actionable?, reference? If you can’t answer “yes” to either one, the thing you’re holding adds no value to your life. It’s better off in the landfill (or recycling bin).

Now, if I can only apply this principle to my desk right now. 🙂

As a side note, you don’t always have to trash things that don’t belong in your life. Try recycling them, donating to charity, or even selling them on eBay. We just sold a few odds and ends on eBay, and we made a tidy little sum in the process. That definitely makes purging more worthwhile.

How do you handle trash and purging in your GTD flow? Do you have any great tips to help detach from “priceless” stuff? Stick a comment below or drop me a line.

[tags]legal andrew, david allen, getting things done, gtd[/tags]

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