Series: Taming Your Desk
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.