Divide and Conquer the Pile

I have a confession to make.  There is always a pile of paper on my desk.

It’s true, even organizers struggle with paper.  After all, we, too, live in this world where we get more mail in a week than our parents got in a month, and more mail in a month than our grandparents got in their lifetimes.

I generally keep on top of papers that need to get handled right away — but it’s the rest of the papers that end up in the pile, the ones that I know can be dealt with “later”.

About once a month I tackle the pile, and the desk stays clear for a few days. But by the end of the month, the pile is back.  Throughout the month, I search through the pile for papers that I know are in there, and I refresh my memory about what’s left.   I usually pull a few out and take care of them, but the rest just sits there.

Yesterday, I decided to tackle the pile by using a “divide and conquer” approach:  I sorted it into smaller piles.

I sorted it into:

  • To Pay
  • To Read
  • To File
  • To Call
  • To Decide

Just separating it into smaller piles made it seem much more manageable.   I filed the “File” pile, I read the “Read” pile (then filed or recycled the items), and I made decisions about the “Decide” pile.

Right now, I’m in the middle of the “To Call” pile.  And when I’m done with that, I’m going to pull out my checkbook and take care of “To Pay”.

Are you overwhelmed by a big pile of paper?  Try dividing and conquering and see if that makes it easier to tackle.  Just remember – it’s not enough to separate it into smaller piles —  you then have to act on those piles.


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