Collect for Sanity



We are inundated with stuff. Stuff we need to act on. Stuff we need to remember. Stuff we need to worry about later.

Most of us are stressed out with the amount of stuff in our lives. What to do about it?

The system outlined in Getting Things Done starts with collection: there needs to be a system in your life for putting things that need to be processed later.

So when you’re driving down the road and think of something, what is your system for collecting that for later? When you get a bill in the mail, but don’t want to pay it, what is your system for that?

Without this system your mind will always be reminding you about everything. And you will never find peace. You will constantly be running from thing to thing and never able to say to yourself, “Relax, I’ll get to it later.” Because your mind knows you won’t, because you don’t have a system for it.

Here is where I collect things to be processed later:

  • Inbox at home. All my mail, bills, go here
  • Inbox at work. All my physical meeting notes, receipts go here
  • Evernote. all my digital meeting notes go here
  • Gmail Inbox. All my personal email goes here
  • Outlook Inbox. All my work email goes here

If I want something to be processed in my life, they must go here. If I put them here, I can forget about them, because I have a system to deal with them.

One thing I haven’t figured out a system for yet, but want to: daydreaming away from my computer. For this system to really work, you have to empty your mind of all your stuff into a system. Anything that you ignore will come back over and over again. In the process phase you can say “no” to those things, but the key is that you tell your mind, “Forget about it. It’s in the system. Trust me.” This frees you up to truly focus.

Right now I have no system for when I’m thinking in the car and realize, “I need to organize my closet.” Normally I forget about it by the time I arrive at my destination, and my mind gets stuck in a loop.

The obvious solution to this would be my phone, but a lot of times it’s locked and difficult to get to. Another solution might be a portable recording device. I think I might experiment with that.

Whatever the system, collecting all the things into your system helps you focus. That focus in the foundation of everything else to come.

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