I almost started to say something like “I Can’t” but I can’t do that. But I honestly know that organizational stuff (like keeping things neatly in file and making to do lists) are just practices I don’t gravitate to. The inane tweet above was more a mis-placed assumption that the GTD “movement” seems to end of more focused on the process of GTD than the Things part. I have no basis to make that assertion, yet that does not stop me.

So I could give a hoot how many emails I have in my inbox. The only ones I say are the ones that fit my scroll bar, and rather than fart around with clever folders, I find ’em the search way. I never profess to say my way is better than anyone elses.

But now I offer for anyone looking for a short cut to this stuff, to join me in the NGTD movemebt, dedicates to snarking the fastidious list crossing maniacs out there. My lesson to day is on getting to Readbox Zero, that cleansed out fresh minty taste of an RSS reader with nothing pending in it.

In Google Reader, you can reach this holy state by simply going to your feeds or folders of feeds, and give them the old Shift-A; mark them all read even if you’ve not even looked at them. Mmm, look how organized my reader was a few minutes ago.

Kum Ba Yah, Bay-bee!

Lest you think this is totally frivolous, I switch to semi-seriousness mode/ I generally peruse my reader still at least once I day. I have a whole collection of “alert” me the feeds (comments to my flickr posts, updates to our MediaWiki sites so I can tell if anyone is actualy wiki-ing besides the spammers, etc). But for the most part, I skim a few page downs worth, but inevitable, al ot unread messages accumulate way below the fold of my attention.

Now the beaty of Marking All Items Read, beyond the illusion of being organized and tidy, is that all of the content is still there. So I can still find these items by browsing or searching, they are just swept under the rug of my front page view.

And I feel so clean and shiny now.

So how do you actively go about NGTD?

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. That nagging sense of dreaded unread email, growing more palpable and ponderous as it accumulates. Your technique sheds this weight like a sin in the confessional is converted to a long forgotten thought.

    As you are one of the founders of NGTD thinking I would ask you: Is not the email inbox a tool of the GTD movement? I propose a NASA style national effort called “Serendipitous”, which would prohibit email delivery at all except for those messages that arrive in the 10 minutes prior to when you randomly check your email. The “Serendipitous” plugin would work only with gmail of course. While the project poses some issues with solving time travel equations, it does address the issues of working memory, that is why worry about more than 7 (+/- 2) things? This plugin used by the elite NGTD, would penalize the GTD listers who by nature check email once daily at 3:05 pm EST. So knowing their listy ways we can send them email but they would only by chance (not in their charter) be able to send us email.

  2. You mean I’m not the only one who doesn’t use folders for my inbox?! I agree: search works just find. As for another way to NGTD (and I also agree with your assessment that GTD seems focused more on the process), I don’t use “real” files and file cabinets either. Everything I really need is in various piles on my desks or floors. It’s a logical system (for me), and I don’t waste all that time filing. :)

  3. Files are for stuff I’m finished with or need to archive.

    That goes for real paper and email too.

    GTD process is only useful for people with that particular habit of mind/work anyway. Why spend a lot of time trying to force yourself to be something you’re not (and meanwhile get upset with yourself for not being that way) when you could just focus on gettting some work done instead?

  4. ‘Mark all read’ is a not so secret delight that I indulge in from time to time. The first time is quite a hit. Reassure myself that the sun will still rise in the east during the following morning. Regardless, if a cleared post was truly significant it will cross my path one way or another in the coming weeks.

    NGTD, not a bad idea. How boring would it be for our relatives if they have absolutely nothing to do after we depart this world for realms elsewhere? Makes me think of dad.

    My father left a number of things for us to sort out after he passed away. Yet, among his belongings he left little notes for us to find. On one box of belongings, for example, he left this message, “First in, best dressed.” Makes me laugh.

    Cheers, John.

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