Are there any former procrastinators out there besides me who still deal with “piles”? I do NOT like piles – yet I’m so prone to form them. Aaugh! What’s the deal?
By “pile” I mean a collection of assorted papers I’ve not dealt with. A pile is a group of delayed decisions. It begins when I choose to put a paper down and deal with it later. Big mistake.
A pile is a fallback for procrastinators. We find them so easy to form and grow that we cultivate them all around the house. That’s crazy because a pile is a great example of how procrastination mistreats us. It tricks us into thinking delay is good but then it cruelly dominates us.
I get a piece of mail I have to deal with. I can’t – or don’t want to – deal with it now, so I put it on the kitchen counter for attention later. Then that one paper morphs into a magnet attracting other items – a newspaper, receipts, a catalog, more mail, a flier, a grocery list. ETC. The possibilities are endless once the door is opened.
Because I do not deal with that paper immediately, it gains a kind of control over me. Piles have “negative power.”
They are unsightly and detract from the otherwise reasonable orderliness of our home.
They scream and DEMAND attention – shouting that I’ve not done my job
They steal space we could use for cooking, eating, sitting, walking and they interfere with our efforts to do those things
They create work because I have to move them to operate – and more work when I look for them again later. (They like to hide – especially if they contain critical items.)
They seem to hang onto my ankle and divert my attention from other things I need to do.
They mock me for my failure to deal with them and at the same time discourage me from even trying to.
Worst, they contribute to further procrastination by luring more papers into their crowd.
I’ve begun to think of piles as squatters. A squatter is a person who occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent. He has to be forced out by officials and kept out by official action. Since I have authority over pile formation, I can determine not to make them anymore. I get no positive payback from allowing them into space they should not have. I’m going to end this.
Happy note: I am much better about piles than I used to be. I enjoy the difference. (One of our kids even commented on the improvement!) This makes me want to avoid piles altogether because the straggling squatters are annoying. They act like they own the place.
How did I do this week? Pretty well. I found seven. (Honest, I’m still better.) I’ve evicted five; two more to go.
This week, will you exercise authority and get rid of your piles? (Don’t forget to check under the bed!)
I agree that piles tend to grow and take over our workspace. What would you suggest doing with that piece of mail I open in the evening that requires a phone call to a business office the next day, which perhaps happens to be a holiday?
Beth Sterne says
Hi, Donna! Your question deals with the very heart of the pile issue. How do we most effectively manage paper?
From my position of Needy-Not-Expert, a few ideas come to mind. One, you likely use a do list of some kind so you can write the task on the appropriate day (or two days in case the business is not closed). That means the paper does not have to be left out as a prompt. It can go in a “tickler” file or a “hot” file for immediate action. Thought two, (maybe a little crazy) can you save business mail to open during business hours? That wouldn’t solve the problem, but it might better position you for dealing with it. Three, we have a large basket for incoming mail. If I spy something that needs immediate attention, I clip it on the side of the basket so it is noticed immediately.
Next week I hope to share what I’m learning as I focus hard on how to manage paper.
Thanks so much for chiming in! Other ladies, what do you suggest?