I love this letter from one of you! These principles really do work and I love seeing them applied to other situations. There is so much value in making progress without causing a mess of stuff that has to be dealt with later.
I’ve been following you since 2016. I’ve written in a few times because your system just works. And not only does it work in a home, I started applying it to my job.
I work at a library, and I just took over a long neglected collection. The books need to be weeded and updated and the task is just completely overwhelming. I started doing what I thought was right and then I thought about what you always say. Do the easy stuff first. And there are easy things. There are books with a dot on them that show they’re over 20 years old which means they’re really grubby so people don’t want to check them out. So I did that.
And then I thought of your final decision rule and realized that I was doing a lot of: pull books from shelf, sort books into piles according to what to do with them, act on piles, rinse and repeat. My desk was a mess, the collection was still overwhelming… the piles kept bleeding into each other… It’s all the stuff you talk about.
I have a new system now for weeding. I take a laptop and a cart with me and when I pull a book from the shelf, I do everything I need to right there in the stacks and stick the book on the cart to be withdrawn. It takes about the same amount of time to work through a weedlist, but the workflow isn’t backing up on my desk!
Slowly but surely, the collection is fitting into its container better, and the shiny new books are circulating so much better than the grubby old ones were. And best of all, the piles are staying off my desk. I’m now considering what other areas of my job can benefit from this method!