In fifteen minutes, I don’t get very far clearing paper piles. Why? Because I don’t want to touch any of these papers ever again, unless we need them for some reason.
If a document requires a phone call or letter, I stop and take care of it, make notes, then file the paper where it belongs and where we will find it when we need to recover that record.
Here’s my desk when I started this morning, my second day of clearing the desk clutter in tiny, quarter-hour sessions.
Almost anything that lands on my desk requires action of some sort. We’re working on becoming a paperless household–mostly–but we have a way to go. For now, I pick up one piece of paper at a time and take action, file it, shred it if it’s sensitive material, or recycle it.
To be sure, there are a couple of exceptions. In this pile I find drawings and homemade greeting cards from the grandkids. They go on the refrigerator for now. Later, we’ll drop them into a folders we keep for the girls. When we’re gone, they can decide whether to keep these mementos or pitch them.
After fifteen minutes, the pile appears a little more manageable. Strangely, I feel as though I can breathe better. It’s as if the air is fresher. Perhaps it is! Printed papers contain a lot of volatile chemicals, including formaldehyde. I wonder what happens to all those chemicals when we lock papers away in a drawer.
Feng Shui experts tell us that clearing our clutter frees unseen energy in the room. Perhaps all that free energy lightens my body as much as seeing these messes disappear lightens my spirit.
How do you feel after you clear a mess? Do you find yourself wanting to plow into more messes and get them out-of-the-way once and for all?
Part of me wants to stick to this little pile and get it done, for Pete’s sake. But I know me. My contract with myself is fifteen minutes, five days a week. As long as I stick to that, then the next day, when it’s time to begin again, I’m not tempted to delay.
In the past, I found that doing more gave me a kind of license to procrastinate the next day, or to think, “I did three days worth yesterday. I’ll take today off.”
Before I knew it, two or three weeks had passed, and I hadn’t touched another clutter mess.
So, thank you, but no. I’m staying on track for now, zapping my clatter for just fifteen minutes each day, until this habit is so ingrained, I don’t have to worry about losing it.