Friday, February 08, 2008

"Douglas Merrill, the chief information officer for Google, shares 4 rules that will help you get it together"

That's the subtitle of a Men's Health article. The interview reads like GTD filtered through Google Apps. For instance, here's one tip:

2. Swap filing cabinets for scaffolds.The traditional approach to organization involves putting things in folders, either manila or electronic. Tax receipts go here, mortgage information goes there, investment advice gets put on that pile, vacation ideas on that stack, etc. While this works for a short time, eventually we end up with cluttered offices and hard-drives full of information that’s neither accessible nor useful.

“There’s a common perception that organization is innate and that it looks the same for everyone,” says Merrill, sipping from a bottle of—what else?—SmartWater. “Both of these assertions are false. Organization is learned, and it’s learned in a way that’s special to you. For me to cram you into the traditional filing-cabinet model is a disservice. A much richer way of helping organize someone is to give them a set of tools that can be personalized.”

Merrill calls these tools “scaffolds” and encourages us to think of the information we’re accumulating as an ever-expanding building. This scaffolding represents the means for quickly gaining access to any floor or room. It’s your network of virtual assistants or, to continue the analogy, ironworkers.

Merrill has wrapped 7 (that number again) scaffolds around his world. Naturally, they’re all Google products and include: Calendar, Notebook, Reader, Documents/Spreadsheets, Gmail, Gadgets and iGoogle. (If you want to scaffold your life similarly, they’re all available for free at

Just think how organized Merrill could be if Google were to come out with its rumored project management system.

The World's Most Organized Man: Douglas Merrill, the chief information officer for Google, shares 4 rules that will help you get it together

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