Jennifer comes back home and dumps her handbag and the shopping in the kitchen. She moves to the dining table which is piled with post, opened and unopened, pencils, pens and paper her children were using a few days ago; bills she needs to pay; invitations to answer. She grabs the new post that is sitting on top of this mess, puts the junk mail down again unopened, opens the bills and puts them on top of the piles of mess. Unequal to the task of facing this mountain of accusing paper she goes into the kitchen, makes herself a cup of tea, flops down in the sitting room and wonders what they’ll have for dinner that night. Jennifer has repeated this exact routine every working day for ten years. She has done it so often that she automatically shuts down at the sight of all that mess and paperwork that she knows is waiting for her; so much so that it requires a monumental effort on her part to take out her cheque book and start dealing with the bills.
Make a new habit
Now imagine if Jennifer acquired a new habit. Let’s imagine that every time she comes home she sets aside 15 minutes to deal with the paper pile, firstly dealing with all the new post by throwing away the junk, filing when necessary, taking out her cheque book to pay bills and popping the bill and cheque into an envelope, sticking on the stamp and placing the bill where she will remember to post it. She then spends the remaining minutes clearing the clutter that’s been there a while; anything that is on the table and doesn’t belong there. Within a few weeks Jennifer has a clear dining table that the family can now sit at for their meals. Jennifer clears the table whenever a task is finished and deals with incoming paperwork on the same day. She feels calm and in control because there are no nasty surprises lurking in a paper pile.
Jennifer hasn’t waved a magic wand. She has simply used the power of repeated action and we all can do that. Don’t hesitate. If you’ve got a mean paper mountain weighing you down use 15 minutes every day and get cracking. At the end of the 15 minutes, stop. Congratulate yourself. Don’t give a thought to any other clutter mountains you may have. You will deal with those in good time. Right now you’ve started dealing with this particular problem and it’s time to smile and feel good about it. You are on your way!