STYLE Savvy: Using STYLE to Conquer Piles

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Last week, I wrote about staying on the right side of the organizational line. Though I’ve made a little bit of progress, I still feel as though I’m on the wrong side of the line. With a book deadline in ten days and the end of the semester rapidly approaching, it’s tempting to just camp out here and wait until I end up on the other side of those lines before making a difference, but that’s not a good plan.

First of all, it feels terrible. I don’t like seeing the piles or feeling the incessant nudge to do something about them.

Second, letting it go means that the piles will attract piles and that is not something I want to see.

So it’s time for some STYLE.

Start with Successes: No one area is completely out of control. The table in the family room, often a magnet for my schoolwork-in-progress, is nearly clear. All of the accumulated mail and paper on the kitchen counter and the dining room table are contained to essentially one pile. These are, admittedly, small successes, but they’re in the areas that most need attention, so I’ll take them. More important, they lead me easily to …

Take Small Steps. I can (and will) get up right now and put away the remaining items on the family room table. Done! (And in about five minutes). In addition, I put away a couple other drop and run bonuses I’d left myself and morphed right into …

Yes, it has a Home (putting that stuff away meant it had to go where it belonged) and …

Let it Go! (extraneous/outdated items were easily tossed in my desire to clear the space).

As for Easy Upkeep, the fact that I could make that much actual progress (as opposed to just putting the stuff in a random location to get it out of sight) in that little time is an indication that I have systems that are working.

Why, if it was that easy, did these piles form in the first place? No matter how good our systems (and mine, although imperfect, are pretty good because I’ve been doing this for over a decade), real life intervenes. A shortage of time. The urgency of a deadline. A different priority (dinner with friends and watching a movie with my daughter, who’s home for only a week, rose to the top of the list Saturday night). Sheer exhaustion. Too much stuff. A sense of overwhelm.

You get the picture.

These things happen. It’s what we do after they happen that makes the difference between a short-term clutter situation and a long-term problem. I’m off to a good start because I found an easy place to begin taking small steps. Now, I need to make the other piles a priority and either set aside time to deal with them or simply practice Give it Five! consistently until the remaining piles are gone. In addition, I need to not leave myself any new drop and run bonuses along the way because those will only compound the problem.

If I’m honest, I need to admit that those piles aren’t the only organizational tasks that need to be done, so I am writing them down to keep myself accountable. The quick and easy ones will probably be swept up and out of sight in my next Give it Five! attack, and the others will stare up at me from my list until I get them done and/or assign them a time slot on my calendar.

Small steps.


Copyright 2018 Lisa Hess

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About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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