Red Rover, Red Rover let the references pile over.
The Action Method proclaims that “References are worth storing, not revering.” This assertion is valid based on the observation that we barely refer to them in the long-run.
Asking a reference’s relevance is easy. The Action Method insists we “feel the flow” of references. When a reference comes our way: Question the relevance, tag it, then store it.
This is typically sufficient for reducing clutter.
This is further refined by asking if it’s clearly relevant to a current project. The Action Method says if you don’t have a clear answer, trash it. Personally, I might give myself 20 seconds to think about it.
I used to collect notes and web clips indiscriminately when I identified them as having the slightest bit of “relevance.” Soon, Evernote was blighted with so many notes. Weekly reviews became sub-reviews. Oh god, paralysis. I found that the massive diversion of energy into compulsive filing and curation was very exhausting.
Somewhere down the line I figured it was a bad habit: The thought where if I don’t store it now, any future opportunity to leverage it may vanish. Or that the outcome quality of a completed project might be dimmed if I didn’t have the reference.
One rather draconian remedy was to apply urgency by shifting from a filter of “might be useful” to one of “must immediately support the execution of an action step.” If it directly supports the action step, the importance, usefulness, and urgency is self-evident.
If it takes too long to figure out, I lose respect for the reference. Out in the trash it goes.
This may prove restrictive for others. Maybe you’re at a meeting and your boss is telling you something…
But seriously, how deep was the drawback or delay when you trashed a relevant reference, but hadn’t applied it until days later?
Feel the flow of the reference: Question it. If it’s not important, it’s garbage. Apply urgency as a second filter, too.
A throwback from the book ReWork by 37Signals:
You have the most information when you do something, not before.