“Here’s how I define ‘stuff’: anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical wold that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step” (17).
Sounds about right. It applies to intangible stuff (appointments to make, emails to answer, errands to run) and your physical surroundings (mail, receipts, accessories).
Key here is desired outcome and next action. That’s why “stuff” gets stuck, right? Because we’re unsure how to handle it. Where does it really belong? Do we really need it? When to read that email? How to answer?
David Allen’s book Getting Things Done breaks down how to tackle tasks and “stuff” in manageable chunks. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far so good.