Taking Action on Your Action Piles

Series: Taming Your Desk

You can’t forget to do it. It’s critical. It’s crucial, but you can’t do it now. So, you put the materials in a pile, in plain sight every day, reminding you it must be done.

Do you have one of those piles? Most people do. I like to call them Fear Piles. It’s a stack of papers or materials that reminds us something must be done by a certain time. We keep these piles when we don’t have a system we trust for reminding us to do things on time. The trouble is, frequently we still miss doing the tasks. Why? Because piles aren’t a system to create action. They are a system of stagnation.

Let’s create a system of action to wipe out those Fear Piles. Here is one method:

  • Separate your pile(s) into action items. Put each action item into a folder. (It’s okay. These aren’t going into a file cabinet.)
  • Using sticky notes, label each folder in the following manner:
    • For activities that must occur on a specific date, write the date and the task on a sticky note and place it on the folder’s tab. Ex: 7/15 – Soccer Signup for Kenny.
    • For activities that will take more than one day, but must be completed by a certain date, write the day you need to start, the day it must be completed, and the task. I like to circle the completion date or write it in red. Ex: 7/10,  7/19 – Format New Church Directory.
    • For activities with no real deadline, give them a deadline date and file them like either of the two previous items.
  • Now, put your folders in date order.
  • Print a monthly calendar and list all your folders by their due dates and start dates (if applicable).  Then, make a copy of this calendar.
  • Put one calendar in your office or wherever you intend to work on your folders and another in a frequently trafficked place, like your kitchen or den. You want this second calendar in a place you will see it every day.
  • Finally, order your folders by start date (or due date if there is no start date). Place your folders in a desktop hanging file or stand, and put them in a visible place in your office.

Simplicity Tip of the Day – Visual prompts remind us we have tasks to do, but the best visual prompts provide a framework for getting the task done. A simple calendar and some file folders are better reminders than a pile of paper because they give us a system for taking action.

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This entry was posted in Organizing and De-Cluttering, Series: Taming Your Desk and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Taking Action on Your Action Piles

  1. Ha! What a timely post for me. I was just talking about the problem I have with all the stuff–mostly all the papers on my desk. I can’t even see the top of it. Today I’ll work on dating the things to be done and filing them in labeled folders. Thanks for the tip! Your site is very helpful to me.

  2. Another keeper to follow.
    You’ll have me seeing the top of my desk yet.
    Write on.

  3. C.C. Owens says:

    Glad to hear these tips are useful. Can’t wait to hear about your productivity once you find your desktops, ladies. If you have the chance, send me pictures when your done! 🙂

  4. Stagnant files? Have you been peeking at my office? Thanks for the great advice!

  5. Cathy Baker says:

    Very helpful, C.C. Stacks have been my visual reminder. Time for a change!

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