sometimes you know it all, but need to hear it one more time

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago, amidst another overly busy work day of scrambling not to get further behind, I stopped all progress on all projects.  All I did for a couple of hours was sort through the many high piles on my desk, finding anything that could be recycled or shredded.  I carried the piles out of my office a little bit at a time, but what I got rid of was probably a good 3-foot stack of paper.  Stuff I should have handled that way (recycling or shredding) the FIRST time I touched it.  It wasn’t like I had the time *to spare* to do this…I had just finally hit the wall.  The height of the stacks had shut down my ability to be productive, and nothing else could happen until I got things a bit more in order.

I thought of that today in church, as my pastor talked about one of the big New Year’s resolutions people make:  getting organized. 

It is amazing to me, how often I can hear someone teach about something I ALREADY KNOW, and get so blessed by it.  99% of what my pastor said today, I KNOW.  I’ve practiced it. Or read a book or website about it.  I could teach it myself.

Only thing is:  I’m not practicing it now.  Hence the need for the reminders. 

A few well-aimed statistics are always stellar motivators for me.  Dig these, that she shared:

The average person’s work desk piles contain about 36 hours’ worth of work.  Average amount of time per week that person spends digging through those piles, looking for something?  3 HOURS.  I groaned SO LOUD when she shared that one, because I know the truth of it.  Part of the reason I am so backed up at work is I am spending too much time looking for stuff that should be neatly filed and ready to be found with 4 seconds of effort, rather than the 5 minutes it takes me.  There were other very compelling stats, but just those 2 alone were enough to help me hear:  Karen, it’s time to get your stuff together.  DARN IT. 

The thing is, even after I tossed out that 3 feet worth of worthless paper…I still have another 3 feet of paper that all needs filed.  Individual sheets, one at a time.  If you’ve read my blog for awhile, maybe you already know I hate filing.  I will do ALMOST ANYTHING ELSE to avoid filing.  I am the farthest behind I have ever been on it.  

This has got to stop.

Tips I got today that I am taking into this week (and yes, I am posting them here because if I don’t say it publicly, I will weasel out of it tomorrow – I know how I roll):

1.  I will schedule focused blocks of time for filing.  I’m thinking I’ll start with two 15-minute segments per day.  During that time I will answer no phone calls and look at no emails.  I will not let any other task I encounter interrupt the filing.  It seems like not enough to work on that giant stack of paper for only 15 minutes at a time…but right now I’m doing ZERO and all I’m doing is getting “behinder.”  15 minutes should be enough to make significant progress, over maybe 10-15 days. 

2.  In the meantime, I will resolve to touch paper only once, wherever possible.  This means as I create or receive NEW paper, I will stop and either file it, recycle it, or shred it…NOT just lay it down on the desk for later. 

3.  At the end of each workday, I will write down a plan for what to do the next workday.  I will work more effectively if I don’t save that task for when I arrive in the mornings and am feeling all slow and unmotivated.  If I come in to a list waiting, I can just start working on it.  And if I make the list at the end of the workday, my memories will be fresher, so I’ll know what needs to go on the list, in what order, without having to THINK HARD like I would in the morning.

4.  This is the most painful, perhaps, of all the steps:  I will go into my Leechblocker, which I already used to shut off my Facebook at work, and do the same for my personal email.  The thing is, when I’m having my wretched A.D.D. mode, it’s too easy to go read an email for 2 minutes while switching gears.  I can find better 2 minute things to do for switching gears, that will keep me more productive.  Besides, I’m developing a bad habit of never answering personal emails, because I “really fast” read them at work, and almost never take a minute to answer them – after all, I’m at work, I’ll do it later – only I DON’T remember to do it later.  So, if I don’t open personal emails until I have time to answer them, I’m thinking I’ll be a more reliable answerer AWAY from work, and certainly a more focused worker at my desk.  DARN IT.  I HATE THIS IDEA. 

As for that average of 36 hours worth of work piled on the desk…I have AT LEAST that much, probably more.  So if I can get my file piles in order and save myself those 3 hours per week of digging through them…I’m that much closer to hammering through to the bottom of the to-do piles.  With the nature of my job, I don’t ever expect to be totally caught up.  But I need to be less behind than I am right now.

Finally, the 1% today that my pastor said that I hadn’t noted before was this:  when you have disorganized piles on your desk, you might FEEL busier than you are, because nothing ever feels “done.”  OH MAN I felt that, when she said it.  I mean, yes, my schedule is packed ridiculously full.  But really, outside of work, it’s done very effectively.  I shouldn’t feel as “behind” as I do.  I’m thinking it’s exactly this – the crazy piles – piles so high I’ve been embarrassed in the last couple of months when people come into my office – that is a huge factor in making a truly busy life feel like a disaster in the making.

So.  YAY for good teaching, great solutions, excellent answers.  Tomorrow, I shall be a doer and not just a hearer.  There’s something in scripture about that, right?  🙂

May your Monday find you blessedly and peacefully productive.

  1. Cala says:

    Would you believe I am SO JELLY right now. I wish I had piles of stuff to go through and organize. I LOVE filing. Not to reveal too much about my parents, ahem, but when I’m visiting and I see stacks of self-employment, I go to work organizing receipts/statements/invoices (you get it) into their proper places.

    If I only lived closer I would volunteer to come and do that with/for you. Probably the single most missed factor of my TR job. I knew where everything was, I loved putting it there, and finding it for reference quickly when needed.

    Also, your number 3 sounds fun! lol…. one day when my kids are older, I will, hopefully, work in an office. I could work on your number 4 as well, I totally do that (read for a quick sec and forget to later reply).

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