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17 Mar

A pile is not a pile

Datum: 2010-03-17 17:20

You can eas­i­ly be led to believe that the piles on the desk pri­mar­i­ly are an aes­thet­ic prob­lem; that it gives a neg­a­tive impres­sion to some­one who comes to pay a visit. 

Or, that it’s only a prob­lem with order; that the piles make it dif­fi­cult to find the doc­u­ments you are look­ing for when you need them.

But, unfor­tu­nate­ly the prob­lem is more seri­ous than that.

What’s hid­den beneath…

In oth­er words, a pile is not only a pile. Had it been only a pile of paper and if the prob­lem was only aes­thet­ic, there would be no dif­fer­ence if you replaced the papers in the piles with emp­ty pages, but you don’t, right?

No, because all papers in the piles have in one way or anoth­er some kind of worth or val­ue to you. In fact, in the piles lurks a cus­tomer who is wait­ing for you to come back to him, a sup­pli­er who’s wait­ing for pay­ment and is now work­ing away on a demand note, and there is also that one idea that could take your busi­ness to new heights but which is now cool­ing slow­ly and will final­ly meet the pile-death.

After all, it’s not the piles that cause the prob­lem. They’re just the symp­toms derived from the fact that your office process­es” don’t run as smooth­ly as they could.

They sig­nal that here’s mon­ey to be made,” here are your new cus­tomers,” right here is more time that you could spend on oth­er things.”

The piles are in them­selves promis­es that an eas­i­er work­day is possible.

Up and away!

You want your busi­ness to move for­ward in a desired direc­tion, towards your vision. If you’re not run­ning a busi­ness, you may want progress in the project that you are respon­si­ble for, or per­haps in you career. 

Every busi­ness is the sum of all of its detailed parts. If the busi­ness is to progress, every sin­gle part it con­sists of also has to progress. When the to-do tasks, and the ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al are hid­den in piles, they don’t progress, they are stand­ing still, but if they’re instead kept in the spe­cif­ic and pre-deter­mined spot where you have cho­sen to deal with them in, they’ll con­tribute to the busi­ness’ pro­gres­sion. You’ve decid­ed what the next step will be, you’ve stored away papers in the place where you can quick­ly and eas­i­ly find them when you need them on the go, you’ve placed the bril­liant ideas in your bank of ideas, where they are matur­ing, await­ing the exact right time for you to put them into prac­tice with­out risk of cool­ing or run­ning out of steam. Every thing is in exact­ly the right place. No unnec­es­sar­i­ly bal­last is weigh­ing on your shoulders.

So, unleash all the pow­er locked up in the piles!

Do this

  1. Choose the pile that is the most tempt­ing to you.
  2. Pick up the first sheet of paper.
  3. Ask your­self; are there any next steps” with this sheet of paper, or with the infor­ma­tion this sheet contains?
  4. Write down the next step as a to-do task in the one and only place where you col­lect your to-do tasks. (If there’s no next step, don’t write down any­thing, and pro­ceed to step 5 instead).
  5. Also ask your­self; will I have any use for this sheet of paper or this infor­ma­tion at some point in the future?
  6. If the answer is yes, at a cer­tain lat­er date” (on Mon­day, next week, lat­er this month, next year, et c), add the sheet of paper to the fold­er in your tick­ler file that rep­re­sents the time when you’ll need the paper.
  7. If the answer is yes, but I do not know when,” put the paper in your sys­tem for phys­i­cal ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al, or write down the infor­ma­tion you’ll need and store it in your sys­tem for dig­i­tal ref­er­ence mate­ri­als, so that you’ll easily 
  8. find it when­ev­er you need it.
  9. If the answer is No, I doubt it,” throw the paper in the trash.
  10. Con­tin­ue repeat­ing this process with the next page and the next and the next, until the pile is gone.

As soon as you get an e‑mail, a let­ter, a phone call, a phone note from a col­league or stuff like that, repeat steps 3 – 8. This helps you avoid piles, your office process­es” run smoother and you’ll run the busi­ness towards the direc­tion you’re striv­ing for a lot easier.

How do you do it?

What’s your smartest trick to get­ting rid of your piles, or per­haps to pre­vent the piles from pil­ing up in the first place?

You are more than wel­come to leave a com­ment below.