Last fall, I wrote about piles as a system for those of us with an I need to see it personal style, and lately, I’ve been thinking more about what’s in those piles. Once I started paying attention, it didn’t take long before I realized that there’s definitely a pattern to the things I pile up. Papers that are actionable or need filing and homeless items top the list, which led me to the next question.
When it comes to papers, I pile them instead of putting them away because I’m afraid of losing or forgetting something. I often make notes about new ways to do things, especially in my classes, and leaving the paper out and visible keeps the new approach in the forefront of my mind. When it comes to bills and other time-sensitive items, I leave those out so I won’t forget to pay them and/or miss a deadline. Something about the bill staring up at me is more effective than marking a date on a calendar.
Last week, as part of the “make room” portion of my Christmas planning and decorating, I sorted through a pile of things that had taken up residence on the mail counter in my kitchen. This pile annoyed me greatly every time I saw it because that area is one I’m usually very good at keeping uncluttered. The pile contained the usual suspects — papers to file, time-sensitive ads, envelopes for Christmas cards we’ve already received that I kept so I could check the addresses against my book — along with a plethora of one homeless item in particular.
I stopped my subscriptions to most magazines ages ago because they have a tendency to pile up before I have time to read them, but somehow, a few have crept back into the rotation. One is, unfortunately, a weekly publication.
I don’t stand a chance.
By the end of the evening, I’d sorted the pile, written out about half of my Christmas cards (I needed to buy another box), filed a few things and left a pile of magazines in my wake.
As I typed this, a potential home for those magazines popped into my head, leaving me excited to take the next step (sorting, culling and storing). In their new home, the magazines are slightly out of sight, but not entirely so, a compromise solution that eliminated the pile and will jog my memory, albeit to a lesser extent. In addition, I’ll had to winnow the most recent and most interesting issues from the rest because there’s no point in keeping issues I’m unlikely to read.
Finally, I needed to consider those magazines a “maybe” pile, and mark them accordingly, topping the pile with a sticky note with the date I stored them and an expiration date written on it. If I haven’t read them by the time I go back to teaching next semester, those magazines need to go in the recycling bin, or at least be re-sorted so the pile is more realistic. Not only will they be outdated by then, but my leisure reading time will all but disappear, making them clutter instead of reading material.
In organizing, as in life, I’m always happiest when I have a plan. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one works, but I’m even more excited to transform those miscellaneous piles into an actual stack of reading material.
Now all I need to do is add “time to read” to my Christmas wish list.
Copyright 2018 Lisa Hess