[No.3 in a series of posts taken directly from David Allen’s Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done]

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. – Lin Yutang

“If you don’t know the total current inventory of your work, you won’t be fully aware of what you can’t do. Your integrity will lead you into an infinite amount of new to-dos. When you consciously track all your commitments, that same integrity will force you to discriminate and say no, because you’ll be more aware of your capabilities. For instance, if you’ve put things to read in various locations, you’ll have trouble getting through any of them. Put them all in one place, and you’ll handle many with a two-minute glance.” – David Allen

Have you ever graciously accepted the assignment of a new task in a meeting only to get back to your desk and start figuring out how in the world you are going to fit it into the rest of your workload? If you had visibility into your entire workload when the request came in, you could have done a better job of deciding whether or not you could take it on. Creating buckets to capture your commitments is a key part of the GTD system. Another key part is minimizing the number of buckets. A good analogy is sweeping. When you look at your floor you may see some dust and specks of dirt. Once you sweep the entire floor into a single pile you have a better understanding of how much dirt was there by looking at the little pile you created. – Gary