Ask the Experts

My Piles Have Piles!

“I have piles of papers everywhere. Eventually I get to them, but not before I make more piles! I love the way a clean desk looks but I just can’t seem to clear out the mess on a regular basis.”

Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often pile because the papers don’t have a ‘home.’

Papers typically fall into categories, so sit down with the most current stack of papers and sort it into categories. Keep a trashcan handy — ‘Pitch’ is a category. Once you’ve sorted through the stack, assign a ‘home’ for each category. Bills will go here, reading material here, catalogs here, school papers here, etc. Ideally, the homes would be in, on or near your desk. Get a decorative basket or tray and use it as a ‘Dump’ for papers that come into your home and that need to be processed through your system.

Depending on where the desk is in relation to the kitchen, your Dump basket could be in the kitchen, but ideally, it should be on the desk. Once you’ve created homes in or near your desk for all your papers, then it’s simply a matter of going through the Dump basket and sorting the papers into their appropriate categories. Depending on how many papers you have, this is something you can do every day or only once or twice a week.

The beauty of this system that all the papers that come into your house go directly to the Dump or Incoming — that becomes their temporary home until they get sorted into their permanent homes; even if you only do it once a month, all the papers stay in the basket or tray until you process them and they are not scattered throughout your home.

Remember that clutter expands to fill available space so once your dining table is cleared of papers, set the table. When you have dishes at each place setting, it not only looks nice but also it eliminates the dining room table as a flat surface waiting to be cluttered. Do the same thing with your bedside table; once it’s cleared of clutter, put photos or plants or mementos on the table to ‘fill’ the surface.

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