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Piling is NOT filing. Monday April 10, 2017

I looked at my desk this morning and wondered if it was eligible for the office equivalent of Disaster Relief from The United Nations.

With no relief at hand, I set to the Herculean task of recovering my desk... and yes, the irony of the fact that I teach this stuff was not lost on me. An hour later, I could get finally get down to work without being intimidated by piles of clutter.

"Hey, don't you teach the importance of a clear desk and systematic filing?"

The reason I teach many of the techniques championed by David Allen in, 'Getting Things Done,' is that I am an addict. There - I've said it.

I think I'm addicted to clutter and to mess and to chaos. I produce it naturally, skilfully, and organically. It takes no effort at all. It is one of my Unique Abilities - I create chaos.

I need help. I need reminding. I need a system... And, in my experience, the best people to teach 'stuff' are those who have wrestled with the issue themselves, and conquered.

I'd forgotten that I was a conquerer.

It's good to remember that piling is not filing. I have lived for years with the wonderful "Really Useful Box" brand. They have become my extended 'In Box' system for life, but I need to remember that getting everything into an 'In Box' is only the first part of David Allen's system. Next I need to process the 'stuff' - and I need to do this on a daily basis, not leave it until it's time to call in the UN.

I share my pain (and my triumph) with you today, because I know I am not alone...

By the way, I like Dan Sullivan's solution: don't have an office! Don't give yourself the opportunity to stack and store. I can dream...

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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the room above the garage Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 8:11am

Hello Lex, may I ask, what did the desk recovery do to your quality of mind? I have an office but I also have a non-office. (I'm not sure Dan Sullivan is correct.) A portable pile of files, folders, plastic wallets and papers, nicely iced on the top with a notepad with various lists written is my other leg. It moves from coffee table, to dining table, to bunker, to floor and grows. It drags me down to see it! The busier my physical life of caring for the crew gets, the longer this pile stays portable as I need it to be near for speed of access. And the longer my head mess continues. I think my portable office has currently been with me for a year. I really, really need order for my mind to stop being a washing machine on fast spin. But it's so chicken and egg! (That, and the office is also the current 'this will go to charity/be fixed/Lego for a rainy day/yes we will always need 3 wooden dolls houses and a garage' storage facility and no longer a lovely place to work!). In my's the only carnage...everything else is pretty uncluttered and ordered. I'd like the magic wand of time as I'm sure my head would feel it had been ironed if I could capture your triumph. A hearty hand shake, salute and deep curtesy to you! Love ratg x.

Lex Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 8:56am

Hi RATG! I had clarity of focus and an uncluttered mind for the 17 hours the desk stayed clear... (told you I'm addicted to clutter!)

the room above the garage Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 8:12am

bunker = worktop

Lex Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 8:53am

Ha ha ha... that makes me feel better, thank you!

the room above the garage Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 8:13am

For a change it's not autocorrect :-) just an old fashioned Scottish word I grew up with.

Sal Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 9:16am

Great title Lex, and I totally relate to your experience. Thanks for sharing it.

One concept that has helped me feel less guilty about my backlog - or at least to notice myself breaking my own guidelines - has been Mark Forster's book 'Do It Tomorrow'. The simple idea that if I go on adding to today's to-do list, I will never get to the end of it, was revelatory. Natch, I mostly do not get to the end of it anyway, but at least I can laugh at myself as I add, and add, and add .....

Lex Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 9:58am

Oh Sal... that's BEAUTIFUL! Thank you!

LP Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 9:45am

Hi Lex,
You've described me to a tee!
It's like I have an electro magnetic field that attracts clutter and leaves chaos in my wake!
And oh, the boxes!
Am tackling the two worst rooms this week, that haven't even reached the first stage so perfect timing!
Thank you for a very entertainingly written blog Lex! :) It has alerted me to not getting too comfortable with just bagging and boxing!
Wishes for light and space to you and all. LP xx

Lex Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 9:59am

You're my (Gin and) Tonic, LP... a real pick me up! xx

LP Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 11:31pm

:) xx

The Gardener Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 12:52pm

Sitting at my desk - can see quite a bit of it - but only because it's very elegant and the piles of clutter are behind me in cheap boxed units. It's my mind needs filing. Just had a Kir on terrace following visit of potential house buyers - lovely people, had a super conversation over coffee - but does ANYBODY know what they want in a house? This couple, a bit younger than us, were going to leave their home on the second floor in Vannes, lovely warm southern Brittany, to avoid stares, to look at a mansion that needs athletic training to get up the stairs in dank Normandy! My head was turned by their admiration of our new house. Idea, sell them that and move into a small flat myself? No way. My head-banging is on medication - will try and write a blog to clear my mind - my needs, Mr G's needs, the opinion of our GP (super help) and that of the Alzheimer's unit at the hospital diverge. Part of my desk was covered with thick dossiers on Mr G's health. No complaints of help I receive - but French burocracy is alive and well - and the state paper work is in such a mess that they are miles behind on re-paying what is due. They also (probably necessary) recruit female dragons to answer the phone to hopefuls like myself. And I'm dying to get at my shop to do Easter window, as I have acquired church robes again.

The Gardener Mon, Apr 10th 2017 @ 1:14pm

The first two house moves were pre computer and when we had to pay staff and do PAYE weekly. Office work had to be in order, first out of the removal van. 2nd son born just before Christmas, I sat up in bed and did PAYE on Victorian coffee table (still got it) and followed up making mince pies.

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