Dawn says I'm good at attacking a mess in the house (papers, trinkets, living room, clothing, a messy desk, etc) and very quickly making it look picked up.  Suppose its one of those obsessive compulsive tendencies.  Well I was reading David Allen's Getting Things Done and got all inspired by his "Breaking Projects into Short Tasks" flowchart.  So for the fun of it, I put my process in a little flowchart here.  Just sit down (or stand) in the middle of the mess and for each item:

Rapid Pickup Process

Then when done:

  1. Toss the “Trash” pile
  2. File the “File” pile
  3. Put away the “Put Away” pile
  4. Time permitting, go through the “Process Later” pile

The key is to not spend more than a few seconds on any particular item.  Just a quick triage can make a general mess all straightened out.  When you get time to get back to the "Process Later" pile it's amazing how much has become trash (and thus can be quickly triaged again).

This general quick triaging technique works well for many other things too, like scanning new e-mail to reply to short mails and marking mail for followup that need more thought.  For TO DO lists it is about getting those little things done that just take a moment and coming back to the ones that need more time.  It also helps keep fresh in mind what's on your plate.

It may seam like a no-brainer "duh! that's obvious".  But that's the beauty of it!  So simple and effective.  The challenge is to keep focused and not get distracted until the mess is gone.  I enjoy the quick visible results with little effort.  Try it out for yourself and see if it works, who knows, you may even catch the 'pick up bug'.  :)

+10 pts, my grandmother used to say that when you put things at 90 degree angles it looks cleaner.  it works