Organization in a MetaData World (Part 2)


Jim’s finally figured out how to use this system effectively!

A month ago I blogged my entrance in to the GTD (Getting Things Done) world of organization. Looking back, I haphazardly entered the system. I did all of my research online, and, when I finally pieced my system together, there were major holes that caused the whole thing to stall. Not wanting to give up on a system that had such potential, I broke down and bought David Allen’s book.

Reading the book helped me see the bigger picture. I realized there was more to the system than simply cataloging to dos and taking care of the little things when they pop up on your radar. GTD crystallizes the new reality of work. We are no longer in a world where your work is one cog or step in an assembly line of actions. Our roles in the workplace are constantly evolving, and we need a structure of organization that respects the fluidity of our responsibilities.

I spent two nights in my classroom until 9PM to initiate myself to GTD. Every file, every binder, ever poster on the wall, and every odd pile around my room was sorted. Nothing was set aside for future consideration. Let me say that I inherited file cabinets and binders full of resources from the previous teacher in my room. Completing my initial sort gave me the license to purge obsolete material without guilt. Friends, in two days I recycled two rolling trash cans of white paper, emptied 31 binders, and cut three file cabinets of paper in half. It was exhausting work. There were moments where the distraction of American Idol hopefuls singing like glorified karaoke stars was the only thing that kept me going. But the relief if felt as I look around my classroom and knew where every teaching tool was stored and that every piece of paper had a legitimate reason for being in my classroom was liberating. Liberating.

Looking back on the initial sort, I realize that it acts as an initiation into GTD. You are making a commitment to yourself when you dedicate 6 or more hours to cleaning out your closets, drawers, and bookshelves. In a way, you are showing yourself the respect you deserve by stripping your “stuff” down to what you need and sorting it in a way the makes it nearly impossible to lose.

With my physical data organized, I was able to take a serious look at my mental data. Lesson and unit ideas. Hopes and dreams. Mental shopping lists. This is where it started getting fun! My next post will focus my progression of thought on organizing that mental data, but Tom and I would like to invite you to join us in exploring the use of GTD in an educational setting.

We have created a wiki as a medium for refection and community. A reading/discussion group seems in order, so we will decide as a group how best to support each other as we take GTD and adapt it to our individual settings. If you are interested in giving GTD a fair shake, then sign up for a wetpaint account, create a profile, and explore our initial posts. Once a core group is established, we will create a more formal process for reading/applying GTD. We do hope you will join us.