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Partner With The Piles

(c) 2002 by Cheryl Williams Levey,

Many of you know that I have a very full schedule. And most of you probably have similar schedules! One of the ways I work is to create piles of things. I have a pile (and sometimes two or three) for my business, a pile for each of the freelance projects I have, a pile of bills, cards, and other "personal" stuff to get to, etc...

Do you have the Pile Syndrome too?

I've tried all kinds of ways to make the piles go away, from filing cabinets to filing dividers on top of my desk. The problem is that if it's not in it's respective pile, I forget that I have to take action on each piece in the pile. And I should mention here that taking the action and getting rid of the pile doesn't happen because you know as well as I do that even as things get done, other things occur to create more work and add to the pile. Which is actually a wonderful thing because it means progress!

So, how to conquer the piles?

Take action before putting something in a pile
This, obviously, is the ideal solution. If I could just DO whatever it is I'm supposed to do with each piece of paper right when I receive it, I wouldn't have so many piles. So, I do try to do this. I try to take care of things as they come in, so that things don't get too piled up. However, sometimes other priorities make this impossible. Especially for people who strictly schedule their days--which can be a very effective way to focus and get things done.

Set aside specific time each day to clear or minimize each pile
So, for those who do schedule, schedule clearing the piles into each day. That way, each pile should only be about a day old, excepting those things like scraps of paper with items needed to buy on the next shopping trip and things like that.

Prioritize piles--some can wait, others (like bills) can't

I have a pile of "sentimental" type things...both my kids' baby books (because one of my kids is only 5 months old) and pictures and notations on scrap paper of my baby's firsts (that need to be added to the baby book!). This pile hasn't been touched, other than to move it to get to other piles, since my baby was born. Pathetic, right? I sometimes think so, but in the realm of things, it's really not. I'm a very busy person and I do jot down the firsts and someday I will sit down for a few hours and organize it all. Personally, it's more important to me to cuddle with him and play with both my kids than it is to make sure the heirlooms are completed in a timely manner. The bonding and memories are more important to me. So I don't stress myself out too much about it as long as I DO manage to get through the bill pile!

Accept that piles will always exist

Speaking of stress, sometimes we really stress ourselves out because we think things should be a certain way and can't manage to make things that way. Like cleaning up the piles. For me, reality is accepting that in my reality, I have piles. It's my way of being efficient. Piles are a part of my life and my home. They help determine my priorities for each day and my efforts to minimize them are part of my fulfillment for a job well done. Piles can be a wonderful thing!


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