Rapid Pickup Process

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

Comments (5)

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  1. The insert tip is cool! I’m already getting used to it!

  2. Aunt Jordy says:

    Good word.  And remember Ammie’s technique, always put things at right angles to each other and it will instantly make things look neat and organized (vs strewn all about).  Yes, we have a family of organizers!

  3. noahc says:

    Great tip AJ!!!!  Thank you.  I don’t recall Ammie saying that, but that sounds just like something she’d say.  Come to think of it, I do this all the time, put things at right-angles, and it does make things look cleaner.  Also stacking papers largest on the bottom to smallest on top helps give a “natural” order.  

  4. u.Charlie says:


    Your RPP is a good approach.  We live in a world with a deluge of information "stuff" coming at us constantly.

    Here’s another "processing" tactic I read about many years ago.  This was meant for people who receive trade and other publications, usually multiples and monthly.  Go through the publication quickly.  Do not save the whole thing.  Tear out the pages or articles of interest.  Throw the remainder into the trash can.  This way you have left only the things that affect you.   As you finish handling each piece of retained material, then trash it also.  

    (Next month you get to do it all, again.)

  5. Noah Coad says:

    In today’s age of receiving dozens to 100s of e-mails a day, quickly processing these is critical. 

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