In recent weeks I’ve celebrated solving organizational situations within my office, “Zeal,” so let’s brainstorm possible resolutions to a conflict actively prevented progress in my organizational process. I grew up with the impression that notes and the paper they were written on were sacred, as though looking at a scrap piece of paper with some inconsequential ideas would recall memories, which has resulted in stacks of papers. Is the solution to simply recycle them all?
All of these hoarded notes are merely symptoms. What’s the root cause of this hoarding?
- I’d say there are four main papers that I keep:
- Daily To-Do Lists: Listing out everything I could do “today.” I don’t usually end up accomplishing more than one or two items on these lists, so they often remain, waiting, to either be tidied up or sit as reminders of wasted potential…
- Specific To-Do Lists: If there’s a multifaceted task, such as cleaning off my office table, then I’ll list out what specific things need to happen to accomplish the task. These are helpful when I’m actually working the task, otherwise…
- Inconsequential Miniature Notes: Grocery lists and other small lists of items that typically don’t fill up the entire piece of paper. It often feels like a waste to recycle that whole paper, so they end up taking up space.
- Tickets or Mementos: Business cards, concert tickets, notebooks half-filled with notes, sticky notes, and other things that may just be placed in the wrong spot. Half could be recycled… the other half archived.
Digitizing these notes would be the easiest way to resolve these physical symptoms.
The root cause might be acknowledging that I spend more time in planning mode than executing mode. It’s easier for me to think out certain actions than for me to actually do these actions. Once I start doing those actions, like sweeping, then it’s just a trivial part of my routines.
I think the hard part is discovering the triviality of routines.
To do a task effortlessly, you must first put in the effort to practice that task with legitimate attention spent on that task. So accomplishing new tasks, such as working on a new routine for processing notes, will probably take more time than just digitizing what I want to keep and recycling the rest.
Part of that culture shift is realizing not all physical objects are sacred.
It’s OK to part ways with a note I wrote about a particular task I completed a while back. It’s OK to recycle the print-outs of concert tickets I used to see bands that were only mediocre. It’s OK to capture the remaining elements of an unaccomplished “to do” task, rewrite it, to perhaps actually accomplish it.
Just because it provided value once doesn’t mean it could be valuable again.
This might be why people value minimalism.
There is no wasted space on a minimalist desk, though its character is also gone.
So maybe finding the glittery objects within the grimy paperwork is the solution?