Organizational Realization with Paper Piles

gayle0000September 24, 2009

I'm very organized & always have been, but the last few weeks have been quite crazy with family events, work scheduling, and misc life events which have caused me to let some things go...and it's going to be like this for a couple more weeks.

The paper piles have been accumulating in my kitchen. I'm tired. Life happens. It's fine. It's temporary & will calm to normal soon.

Last night, I was sorting piles and getting stressed over the various piles.

I found myself on the dark side, and I didn't like it.

I actually considered buying some sort of cool & slick file tray I could attach to the underside of my kitchen cabinet to hold the papers so I can find relief on my countertop.

I had this realization that I was actually spending time trying to organize and stockpile items to file which can just be put away for good when I take a moment to get that far.


**If I would have spent that time just putting away the things I was organizing and planning a file tray for...I would have been DONE with it.**

I was doing the very thing I hate. I told myself to stop organizing the to-file piles, and just file them. Get it over with. Take them from point A directly to point B without a middleman...AKA the "tray idea".

I just got home from work today and put away those things. Done. No need for that slick file tray, thank goodness.

Just wanted to share in the event this hits home with anyone.


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I think making piles helps. You can clip the piles and tackle them pile by pile next time you work. I find I'm better in the mornings than the evenings.

My stack gets out of control occasionally. I just have to sit and go through it one by one--file, pay, throw away, put in pending or whatever.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 7:02PM
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Ah, the old "planning and scheming about organizing is more fun that doing it" bit.

or it is the "the act of putting stuff away seems as though it will take longer than it actually will."

The moments when you need someone to say, "Just do it!"

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Gayle, I had to scroll back up to the top to see if I had posted this thread!

Talley_sue, "Just do it!" Yes mam!! You are right on as always.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 8:20PM
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So many people spend so much time doing nothing but organizing piles... what a waste!

And sometimes those piles get put into boxes and shoved into closets or garages.... more waste.

"Just do it" is good.
Mine is "Don't put it down; put it away".

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 8:17AM
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Wow - this just inpired me to go file my pile of paid bills - thanks!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 12:32PM
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Like shopping for sports togs or equipment instead of lacing up your tennis shoes and hitting the pavement...

There can be a fine line between getting "the right tools for the job"--the great shelving unit or cabinet that make a room look great and organize the books or CD's; the closet make-over that keeps everything at your fingertips; the vacuum cleaner that really works--vs. the siren song of another gizmo to distract you from doing the job itself, either putting stuff away or tossing stuff.

I know I've been there, done that (and still at risk). For a long time had practically an addiction to office supplies.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 1:44PM
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I have an addiction to office supplies and could probably supply everything for a new company starting out.

I, too, have fallen into the trap of wanting to buy the item to "hold" my stuff instead of just putting it away. It's fun to me to search out the perfect item even though it's not at all necessary because I could just file the papers. Of course, this fun part is also procrastination, doing anything else other than what really needs to be done.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 11:48PM
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My sister would laugh at me because I use to put all my "stuff" in this big basket and then one day I'd sit down and go through it. She said all I did was store my trash. LOL When I finally realized that wasn't the best method to deal with my papers and stuff I started some new systems.

I learned from reading tips and tricks about organizing that I'm a visual person and need to see my stuff in order to be able to find it after I put it away. I also learned I hate having to put things in drawers.

So I purchased some clear drawer sets and put them on top of my desk to put things that I used all the time, i.e., envelopes, stationary, greeting cards and things of that nature. I also bought a huge container to put all my receipts in. It also sits out where I can put my hands on it easily. It will hold about 6 months worth and after it's stuffed I take them out, straighten them a bit and stick them in their permanent file folder.

My new systems have helped. They haven't cured all my paper problems, but they are better. I stil make piles of stuff, but feel better when they are at least in a neat pile, rather than strewn all over the desk, which I'm great at doing. Something I inherited from my mom. When it came to office papers she just liked them strewn around.

Here's the kicker, I hate, hate, hate, to see a newspaper lying around in a mess. Makes me crazy. LOL

Can we really inherit this sort of thing or is it all learned behavior? According to Morgenstern, my paper fetish is definitely a psychological disorder of sorts. What do you think?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 2:50AM
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In reading brutuses comment, I just had a thought.

I know some people work better with a pile system, but for people who have piles and don't like them, or can't manage them...

...I'm just wondering if multiple piles are the result of wanting to get a fresh start (some relief). Instead of putting away or properly addressing the 1 or 2 growing piles, the act of starting another new pile is an act of starting over & finding relief in the fact a new pile is more manageable in the moment until it gets out of control.

My neighbors are textbook examples of pile-people. Piles get unmanageable and an eyesore, and if company comes over, they stuff the piles into plastic grocery bags and hide them. Of course, the company leaves and the piles just stay in the bags. Bags get stored away in case there was something really important in there. They have boxes of bagged piles & don't want them, but can't throw away because they might toss something "important".

I'm just rambling.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 10:58AM
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gayle, what you say makes sense. I'm only good for one pile though and when that one gets too high then I know I have to go through it to toss and file.

This is how I acquire my piles. I'm on the internet and one site leads to another and before I know it I come upon this wonderful, healthy recipe and I think, oh boy I want to try that. So like a dummy I print it out. Big mistake. LOL When happens of course is I never make it and end up with a piece of scratch paper that I make of the piece of paper the recipe is printed on.

Another thing is when I receive someting in the mail that has a link and I think, oh yea, I want to go to that link and investigate xyz. Again, I never get to the link.

Right now I'm looking at the following on my desk that I need to do. An empty bag that I need to cut the UPC off of to send in for a refund on this product that failed it's garauntee.

A couple of magazines with web sites I want to investigate.

Some printed paper on projects I need to investigate for my animal rescue work.

Some filing.

I know I need to ask myself the question, do I really, really think I'll get to this and make my decision to hold on to that piece of paper, etc. for any length of time. I do that with other things and that's why my closets are not cluttered. Me and the paper still have issues to work out. LOL

I do think what I'm going to start doing, as of right now, is when I find a link in a magazine, I'll jot it down in my "everything notebook" that I keep on the desk. Which BTW is usually covered in papers and I can't put my hands on it fast. HA! If I find a recipe I'll make a note of the site in my notebook and not print out the recipe.

Thanks for allowing me to talk my way through my bad habits. Y'all are definitely the little voice in the back of my head saying, stop with the foolishness and just do it.

Something is holding me back from becoming 100% organized and I guess if I do become 100% organized like my friend Mustangs, I'll find out what it is I don't want to deal with.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 3:36PM
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Bruteses, one thing I do that has helped me with the recipes I find on the internet is to copy it as a word document and then save it in a folder on my desktop. On those days when I feel like cooking something new, I just go to this folder and then print the recipe I want to cook.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 4:17PM
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Thanks Marie, that sounds like a good idea.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 8:51PM
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i totally love my will shread not only the paper piles..but cds and credit cards..and you know what..i've been shredding those thin cardboard food boxes, you know like cereal and microwave popcorn come in..and using all the mulch..yes even the my garden around plants..

i cover the white mulch with bark or leaves or pulled weeds so it isn't so white where i don't want it seen..but it is great mulch..i have rows of blueberries and raspberries totally mulched with it and have started on the blackberry row.

i even have realized how few of my receipts i really need to many do you really use for taxes..and will need to be returned..if we buy an appliance i staple the receipt in the instr book and file it..and warranties in a file cabinet..but receipts are now turning to mulch as well..if no longer needed.

i stored so much more paper before the shredder

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 11:46AM
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ronbre, I don't have a place to keep the paper shredder plugged in and out of reach of the cats and dogs and I do hate having to pull it in and out of the closet. So it doesn't get used much. I don't know if anyone knows this, but paper shredders can be very hazardous and even deadly to pets. I don't want to freak anyone out, but there are photo's online of dogs an cats, getting body parts stuck in paper shreaders after they accidentally turned them on.

I know I came home one day and found my vacumm cleaner humming away. I told the pets, next time you turn it on, you better darn well be vacumming when I walk in. LOL Seriously, I was freaked out to find the thing running and realizing maybe if it had run long enough it could have overheated and caught fire. So now if I leave it just sitting somewhere intending to go back to use it soon, I unplug it.

ronbre, I laughed when I saw what you said about the mulch. I shredded some magazines to use as mulch because a friend told me the ink we use in this country will not hurt the plants. She was right, those magazine pages were great fertilizer. I had weeds in my garden like I've never had before even with what I thought was a thick layer of paper and wood mulches. LOL I'm seriously considering silks next year.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:58PM
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I know for sure that any paper (newspapers,cardboard-corrugated or not, magazines,brown grocery bags) makes great end-of-seasongarden cover. Just pile it on your garden whole,wet down with a hose, hold down any loose spots with some rocks or bricks, wait for winter to come and go, you'll see it all breaks down. Push holes in your mulch cover for new planting in the spring. Works for me!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 9:46AM
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I was one of those that had papers all over my kitchen island. If company was coming they went into a plastic bag and in the pantry. Of course there was four or five bags and months later before I would look in them. I was overwhelmed with every thing and couldn't seem to find time to put the stuff away even tho I had the time and filing a few papers is much easier then filing a years worth.

I have now got on the "do it now" order of things and don't cringe if someone knocks on my door.

I have went through all my files and cleaned every thing out and my shredder sure did get a workout.

I have been keeping things on a jump drive if I don't need the original and that is much easier and have found that I really don't need to get most of the things that I have been keeping.

It is such a pleasure now because before I was getting a little crazy with the paper but didn't take the time to do it but it was still taking up space in my mind and on the island.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:19PM
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You make a very good point, Gayle. The less handling of papers, the better. If you pick it up, why not put it where it belongs right away?

Hey, Jannie, I'm with you! I shred the smaller papers. (Catalogs and phone books get recycled.) I put the paper shreds on the thin spots in the lawn to add organic matter, or use it to mulch where I've planted grass seed. Works great, and it's free! I also put some shreds in my compost bucket, so that way, my greens are mixed with browns and it doesn't start to smell while it's still in the kitchen.

Great thread. :-)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 10:29AM
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I just saw this post and had to reply...

I too am of the "paper pile" sort and even though they were neat piles I realised they had to go. Especially after my 2 y.o. got into the office and had his own ticker tape parade with them.

My dream is to go paperless so I bought a Fujitsu Scansnap s300 (the little one). Oh my! I have been scanning and shredding all week. I had an old all in one type machine that took *forever* to scan but this thing is blazingly fast.

I'm a realtor so I have a ton of papers I have to hang on to forever and this is going to be a lifesaver. I didn't know this machine existed until a researcher friend told me about the thousands of pages of hand-written field notes she scanned away.

I love this thing. Oh, and I agree with all the previous posters that the less handling, the better.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 8:08AM
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my husband is a compulsive buyer, and he bought me some files stuff for the roll top desk..a thing to stick mail, in , 2 pen cups, and a wire thing to put pens in and small stuff..

the only problem is..all of it just adds more clutter to my desk..and i don't need them at all !!

they were expensive..i hate to just send them off to charity..i'm trying to think of another place i can use them..maybe in the craft closet to store things..or something..but

anyway..this has been how i've been thinking for some time now..excess organizing things..just mean MORE THINGS !!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 11:16AM
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I have some extra letter holders. One of them in particular is really nice. I have some dishes I put in it for display on top of a shelf in my dining room.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 12:40PM
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Yes, the storage/organization stuff is a sickness. Our family has lots of empty storage boxes, unassembled shelving systems, dusty cereal/pasta storage acrylics, empty albums, extra bureaus with nothing in, and piles of stuff everywhere.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 10:48AM
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I open mail at my kitchen table. I end up with a huge stack of paper at least every week. when it looks bad, I grab each sheet and sort into smaller piles- Bills to Pay, Needs an answer, File Away, Throw Out, Do now, etc. Then I put a rubber band around each pile and either act on it-pay a bill, or put it where it belongs, throw it out, or do whatever I need to to get rid of it so I can forget it.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:21PM
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I used to open my mail in the kitchen and stack everything I wanted to keep, use, bills to pay, on the kitchen table. Then I'd decide to clean up, I'd grab the pile of papers,put them in a plastic bag, stick it in the hall closet and forget about it. Oh, I'd get second notices on bills and would sometimes dig thru the closet looking frantically for something, but the bags mostly just sat in the closet. I never seemed to get around to them. Then my DH asked, what is all this stuff? The pile of bags full of papers was about 2 feet tall. We couldn't use the closet to store boots any more. So I picked up the bags, fuguring I hadn't looked at them in a while, then chucked them all in the garbage. Yes, I'm aware of identity thieves, but I "camoflaged" the garbage with a few bags of dirty cat litter. Nothing bad has happened and I got rid of a major nuisance. Sort of like that old advice "If you haven't worn an item of clothing in a year, toss it."

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 11:03AM
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