A Pile of Postponed Decisions

Does your desk have a pile of papers on it that never goes away? Mine does. It gets smaller (sometimes) and larger (mostly), but it’s always there.

My very wise organizing colleague, Barbara Hemphill, declared that “Clutter is postponed decisions.®” Nowhere is this more evident than in the pile of papers on my desk. It is a pile of postponed decisions.

Last month, when our illustrious Governor Cuomo declared that everyone should be staying home, I decided that I would tackle this pile of postponed decisions once and for all. Then I did pretty much what I always do with this pile. I sorted through it for the so-called “low-hanging fruit” — the items that I knew could be dealt with quickly. Some of the papers were no longer relevant and could be thrown away. Those are the best! But the papers that would take more time and thought continued to sit there.

The pile as it looked this morning

New papers are always coming in either by mail or via my printer. Every time I have a Zoom meeting with colleagues or a FaceTime organizing session with a client, I straighten up by taking all the loose papers and adding them to the pile so that the my desk looks better. And the pile continues to grow.

This morning, I said, “No more!” and I set out to really tackle that pile. I reviewed each piece of paper and determined what the next steps were. For some, I just had to read it and then either file it away or toss it. Others I was able to take immediate action on. Unfortunately, some of the papers can’t be be acted on now because businesses are closed or would be hazardous to visit (such as the bank). Those will continue to sit in the pile until it is safe to handle them.

What’s different about the pile now is that every piece of paper has a sticky note on it stating what the next action is, so I will be able to quickly act on them when the time is right.

The pile as it looks now

So the pile continues to live, but smaller than before, and better organized.

Where are the postponed decisions in your home? Maybe now is the time to tackle one.