Steal That Pile

When I go to a new client’s home or office, I see the inevitable pile of outdated reading material.

It’s usually a collection of newspapers, magazines, professional journals, torn-out articles, and/or newsletters.  When I ask about the pile, the client says, “Oh, I am going to read that”.

Looking at the bottom of the pile, I say, “The oldest item in this pile is from 2008.  Are you really planning to read that?”

One of my basic organizing principles is “One in, one out”.  That means that for every item that comes in the door, something of equivalent size, shape, and function has to leave.

For periodicals, it means that when today’s newspaper comes in, yesterday’s gets recycled — whether you’ve read it or not.  When this month’s magazine arrives, say goodbye to last month’s, even if you never got around to reading that article you wanted to.

If you haven’t made the time to read the old one, you are even less likely to do so once the new one is here.  And forget about the one from 2008.

And don’t think, “Well, I’ll just tear out the article from last month’s issue and and read it sometime”.  That time will never come.  Just trash it.

Some of my clients love this new philosophy and happily march the old periodicals pile to the recycling bin.  Others have a harder time.

So here’s what I say to them.  “Suppose you got home and discovered that someone had broken into your apartment, and all they had stolen was that pile.  How would you feel?”

Amazingly, everyone comes up with the same answer — the same exact word, even:  “Relieved!”

My advice is to pretend you are the thief and steal that pile  . . .  all the way to the recycle bin.

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