Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slice of Life - Piles, Oh how I love you.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays.  For the month of March, I am participating in the March Challenge by posting a slice daily.

Raise your hand if you are a "piler"? Okay, I am going to pretend some of you raised your hands so that I feel like I am in great company.

Organizing papers and belongings is a funny thing. Everyone has their preferences and what works for them.  I love those who say you should touch a paper only once and then do something with it immediately.  I say those people were never teachers and principals.  They must also have a team of clerical staff to delegate tasks.  As a principal, dozens of papers would cross my desk daily. While I was reading them, I would be interrupted with a someone stopping by my office or a child in need or some other daily school occurrence.  I would put it down and have to pick it up again later. When I finally got to read it, I would inevitably need to find the information or hold a meeting or do about ten more steps before I could get rid of the paper.  Delegate? And exactly who do you delegate to when everyone is just as busy as you are?   

I became a "piler" years ago. I fully admit that this is my organizational system. What is piling you ask? I make piles. Organized piles. On my desk or the floor around my desk or on top of the bookcase.  I know what is in these piles. I know exactly where that paper is when you come into my space and want it. Yes, it may look messy but I know exactly where it is. And as soon as I move the paper from the pile into a file cabinet, it is gone. Out of sight or better out of pile and it is definitely out of mind.  In a pile means that I still need to do something with it.  In a file cabinet means I am done and won't be touching it again.

It is also easier to throw things away that are in piles.  If you leave a pile long enough, you have either done something with what is there and can now file it or decided it wasn't worth your time and effort and can now throw it away guilt free.

Now, pilers need to not be bullied by those who think they have better ways of organizing things or feel that your office would look better if you took all those papers and put them in a file cabinet or notebook or some other system.  Don't cave.  It only ruins the system.  Sure my office would look great if I didn't have piles.  However, I am also lost without my piles and likely will forget to do something. This especially happens when you throw piles into a box to stash under your desk or in some corner when there are visitors. Remember what I said about out of sight meaning out of mind? A pile in a box is just as bad as organized files.  Maybe even worse.

Sadly, piles do need attention or they grow to heights that are scary. You need to schedule regular time every few months to tame them and let them know who is boss, or well, at least make you think that you are in control of them.  It's that time.  The time to tame the piles that have been growing for the past couple of months. Armed with trash bags, recycling bins, and a shredder off I go to remind them who is boss.