More than a year ago, I advised my readers never to start a To Be Filed pile, explaining my seven years of guilty woe over not getting around to sorting and putting away those papers. Soon after, I reported making some progress on the pile using the power of Lent, but I admitted that I hadn’t reached the bottom of the pile when Lent ended.
After that, I did almost nothing about it, except feeling guilty and stressed-out every time I remembered that the pile was still there.
Three weeks ago, we went to a used-furniture store and found three things we needed, including a tall shelving unit that almost perfectly fits the awkward space between the filing cabinet and the bookcase in our bedroom! At last, some motivation to get organized and put away some stuff! But first, a trip to Ohio and some errands and things….
About ten days ago, I dealt with the entire remaining To Be Filed pile in one session.
It took twenty minutes.
You see, it turns out that that pile, although an inch and a half thick, was composed mostly of credit card statements, salary direct-deposit forms, and utility bill stubs from 2004. I do not need them anymore. I did kind of enjoy scanning the credit card statements to see what I was spending my money on then (good grief, things haven’t changed much!), patting myself on the back for achieving a 53% increase in salary over an eight-year period that included economic crisis and maternity leave, and marveling over the fact that it used to seem normal that my boss walked through the office every other Friday handing each of us a paper folder with three tear-off edges and a partial double layer of paper that would have been a check if we weren’t required to use direct deposit–which is an obvious waste of paper and employee effort delivering the things, so it ended a long time ago, and now we are advised of our deposited amounts via computer, and I’d sort of forgotten about the old system.
Anyway. That was not so horrible. Why had I been dreading it so heavily for so long?
Last night I was feeling kind of headachey and decided not to do any big heavy chores, but I spotted one that I could do. Hanging on the inside doorknob of the bedroom was the plastic bag given to each attendee of the game convention we attended thirteen months ago. As best I could recall, when I unpacked from that trip I put the things that I was going to put away downstairs into that bag, and then since I was going straight to bed without going back downstairs that night, I hung the bag on the doorknob where I would see it and remember to take the things downstairs and put them away.
You can see how well that worked.
The contents of the bag were, obviously, things we haven’t needed in the past year. More shockingly, all of them except the ball of string were things I already decided last summer we did not need; they were on their way downstairs to be recycled, added to the gift-wrap stash, or placed in the yard-sale pile. They had been hanging there all this time for no reason.
Obviously, I need to improve my systems of time-management and stuff-management and whatnot. More importantly, though, I need to do something about that guilty dread that keeps me from getting a task done precisely because I haven’t gotten around to doing it yet! This is stupid!!! And it’s still there. My scolding, impatient, frustrated feelings about having ever had a To Be Filed pile or a To Put Away Downstairs bag are much stronger than my feelings of relief and peace about getting a few things done already.
I’m working on it. As part of my strategy, I am telling the whole Internet: I finally dealt with some things I had delayed much too long, and it turned out to be a lot easier and quicker than I expected. I am going to remember this the next time I think there is No Time to get around to something I wish was already done.
If you have any strategies for me, please post a comment.