Joy of file folders

by Michael Alderete on 1/21/2005

I wrote before that I’ve been reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and that even though my reading isn’t close or complete, it’s already clear that I like his system. I’ve also been reading a few different web sites where different people write about their experiences using the GTD system, including Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders and Mark Taw’s site, among others. One post in particular talked about the necessity, and the joy, of having lots of file folders on hand, for immediate use as soon as you need to group things together.

I was, to say the least, a little skeptical. I mean, I understood that file folders are an important component of GTD, and even picked up a box of them at Costco the other day so I could get started GTDing, but really, the joy of file folders? Come on!

So I cracked the box this evening, with the intent of getting one folder out to hold all the magazine clippings I save to remind myself to check out something interesting. I even got out my P-Touch labeler and made a label for it.

Then I found another group of stuff on my desk that I could put in a folder. Labeled that one too. 15 folders later, I’ve emptied the labeling cartridge, but my desk and the top of the filing cabinet have no more lose papers.

Consider me a convert. Fresh file folders are cool. And I’m heading to the office supplies store early tomorrow to get a new cartridge for the labeler.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Getting things done

by Michael Alderete on 12/29/2004

I was introduced a couple months ago to the work of productivity guru David Allen, finding a glowing review of his latest book and an overview of his organization system on a weblog, 43 Folders, which has also been doing a nice job explaining how to implement Allen’s system using software available for Mac OS X. I investigated further, and was impressed by what I learned. The system seemed both sophisticated and simple — an extremely rare combination.

More importantly, aspects resonated with me; it both explained what was missing from my current approach to being “organized”, and made me believe the system could work for me. I immediately bought the book from, and when it arrived placed it in pole position on my night-stand for immediate reading.

Can you see where this is going?

So far the only thing Getting Things Done has helped me do is fall asleep. I pick it up diligently each time I get into bed, begin reading…and pass out after a couple of pages. I cannot read the book for more than 20 minutes at a stretch — at least, not while sitting in bed.

I’m still a believer in GTD; indeed, the first third of the book has convinced me that it can work for me, improving my efficiency and stress levels. I plan to give the book a better go in the New Year. Setting up our reading chair with a good light and a warming blanket is the current action on that particular project.

On second thought, maybe the blanket isn’t such a good idea…

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Zero Inbox items!

by Michael Alderete on 12/13/2004

Zero E-mail Inbox Items!It’s pretty hard for me to believe, but right now my e-mail Inbox has zero items in it. I think the last time this was true was about 2 minutes before I first got e-mail. It’s taken quite a bit of effort, and a lot of letting go, to get to this point. (And I suppose I cheated by filing a bunch of stuff, when I should either read and delete, or just delete.)

How long will it last? Well, I’d like to make this permanent, and follow procedures similar to those advocated in the Good Experience guide to Managing Incoming E-mail. That’s even more discipline, but now that I’m at zero items, it becomes a whole lot easier, because I can tell instantly if I am getting lazy.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Rochelle. Lays. Down. The Law.

by Michael Alderete on 10/9/2003

It would appear that my wife has decided I’m not doing enough with my time off, to clean up the house and otherwise work on useful projects (with “useful” being a word she gets to define). She’s decided that I need to get up with her in the morning, take a bath with her, and have coffee with her before she goes off to her job. All of this to ensure that my day at least starts early enough to accomplish something.

I suppose this could have something to do with idolizing Sarah Hepola’s life in a previous post. Or that I can never remember everything, or much of anything, I did with the day while she was at work. Or that she’s usually waking me up from a nap when she calls home. Or that the stack of BeBox husks is as huge as ever.

At any rate, I now have to be much more productive and accountable. Expect me to blog more, so I can at least point to the posts as something I accomplished.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

OK, enough goofing off

by Michael Alderete on 8/15/2003

Ok, it’s been two weeks of sleeping in and doing nothing (much) more than web surfing in my underwear. I suppose I should start doing some real work.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been unemployed. Rochelle and I both left our jobs about two and a half years ago. It was a coincidence, Rochelle taking a planned leave of absence to find her dream job (which she’s now doing), and my dot.bomb suddenly going under. That time we spent our days together, doing cheap stuff around San Francisco, and taking cat-sponsored naps every afternoon. For three months we basically spent all of our time together, and had terrific fun.

This time Rochelle is still employed, thank god. It’s not possible to stay afloat in SF on unemployment insurance payments, which are $370 a week, before taxes. (Yes, you pay taxes on unemployment. Tax cuts on stock dividends, paid for by the unemployed. That’s an economic plan that makes sense!) With Rochelle in a good job, we can tread water almost indefinitely.

Getting laid off is “winning the time lottery.” All of a sudden, I have time to work on the literally dozens of projects that have been building up around me. But in two weeks, I’ve accomplished nothing on any of them. Everything I’ve read or heard about being unemployed in today’s economy says that you have to come up with a routine, something to keep you on track, driving forward to the next job, or at least keeping busy and not frittering the time away. Certainly, when I took the job at Persistence after three months with Rochelle, I looked back and decided I hadn’t accomplished much with that time beyond improving my relationship with my wife (no small thing, that, but still…).

I need this time to be different, in no small measure because I don’t want to do marketing in my next job. I’m planning to go back to hands-on technical work, probably software development, and that means rebuilding a number of skills that have gone fallow, as well as acquiring skills for the technologies that matter today. I have a lot of work to do!

So today I’m starting to put together a weekly schedule for myself. I need dedicated, scheduled slots for networking, job hunting, exercise, e-mail, socializing outside my house, technical development, home clean-up, blogging, bathing, naps, reading for both pleasure and research, web surfing, cat petting, going to the movies (matinees only), etc.

Some of these need to be done every day, but it’s impossible to do all of them in a single day. So I need a weekly, or even a bi-weekly schedule of activities. I’m sure I won’t get it right the first time, but with the economy the way it is in SF, I’m sure I’ll have time to perfect things. In any case, look for my first schedule draft on Monday.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }