What was that?

It’s just plain hard to not be distracted and focus on any one thing when there are piles of stuff around. They are taking up more than space, they are taking over your mind.

If you don’t think your piles are that big a deal, think again. They act like something caught out of the corner of your eye, a little distraction that pulls your focus and causes you to say: “What was that?” many times a day.

One of my mentors, Kendall Summerhawk says, your environment reflects back what you can achieve everyday. Now I know you want to say, “yes, and look at all the possibilities before me.”

That is not what she means. She means the little voice that says: “what was that?” That thing you meant to do, that stuff you haven’t finished, that just for now stuff you abandoned. The nagging in the back of your mind that makes you feel small. Take care of that, and the true possibilities open up.

So, if you are feeling stuck, unable to make quick decisions about important things and a bit overwhelmed by all your possibilities, try these strategies for easy pile taming.

1. Toss the actual trash. After years of working through people’s piles, I finally realized that at least half of the stuff that gets put down really belongs in the trash. You don’t need more of a plan than that. Just remove the trash from the pile, placing it in a receptacle and then to the curb. If there wasn’t a convenient receptacle in the room, make sure to get one. You will be amazed at how much less overwhelming a room can be when not looking at soda cans, wrappers, packaging, and broken stuff.

2. Remove items that belong elsewhere. A few minutes to return the collection of accumulated items to their proper place will save many minutes during the rest of the day. If you don’t have to move the 11 pens that spilled out of the package, when you were in a hurry for one last night while on the phone every time you need to write something down today, you will be much more pleasant to be around.

3. Work with your piles. By simply straightening the piles on your desk and putting like pieces of paper together, you might just feel like you took the first step on the project, creating momentum to build upon. I always have 3 well defined piles on my desk. To keep them from becoming clutter, I have a clear purpose for each pile, and I review the whole pile at least weekly, and they are kept straight so that the amount of space they take up is minimal.

Pretty easy really. And you probably thought I was going to tell you to get rid of it all, or just torch it.

Now that you know what that was, what will you accomplish today?


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  1. Rebecca Helianthus
    Rebecca Helianthus05-30-2012

    Thanks for the reminder Miriam. My piles are very cluttered.

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