I don’t like to file. Surprised? After all, I’m an organizer. I should like to file, right? Well, I don’t. Like you, there are many other things I would rather do.

There are probably other boring, mundane tasks that you’d rather have the organizational fairy do as well:
o Opening mail
o Filing receipts
o Dealing with emails
o Shredding
o Putting stuff away

So what usually happens? Mail stacks up. Receipts get stuffed in a drawer. Email inboxes fill up. Shredding containers overflow. Stuff piles up.

At some point, you throw up our hands and mutter, “I gotta get things cleaned up!” By now things have multiplied (often exponentially), and what started as a little hill has become an enormous mountain. It’s hard to even begin because you know that it will take a long time to do something you didn’t even want to do in the first place.

Sound familiar? It’s a common problem. You wouldn’t believe how many clients have hidden stacks of mail before I arrive, only to come clean later.

You don’t have to live that way. Avoiding mundane daily tasks doesn’t solve the problem. It just delays the inevitable until it is so huge that it begins to make life miserable.

The solution is to “pay now” instead of paying later. If you “pay now” and get it done, you’ll have less stress and more time later. Here’s what you need to do:

• Accept reality. Processing mail, filing, shredding, and putting stuff away are tasks that need to be done. You don’t have to like them; you just have to do them.

• Tackle them head on. When I was a kid, I hated brussel sprouts, so I gobbled them down at the beginning of the meal. Waiting only made them cold. In the same way, if you took 5-10 minutes to open and sort your mail, it would be done. Don’t stand around complaining; just get it done.

• Work it into your day. There is never a perfect time to do these things, but there are better times. Since these tasks don’t require large amounts of critical thinking, they can be done during transitions (getting ready to go home, before a meeting, etc.). I often file when I need to take a mental break from something; it makes me feel productive.

• Make it easier. Open your mail by the shredder, and shred as you go. Create monthly envelopes so you have a place to put receipts. Set up folders to file emails. Take a few minutes to put away what you came in with.

• Make time count. Setting a timer for 5-10 minutes can help. The task could take less time than you think, and you could beat the clock. Or you can say to yourself, “I only have to do ___________ for ten minutes.” You can do almost anything for ten minutes.

• Start with the present. For the first several weeks, focus only on what is current. You need to get back some sense of control. File today’s papers or emails. Check today’s mail. Put away today’s things. You may not make any progress on the mountain, but you won’t be making it any bigger.

• Resist the urge to cheat. Life gets busy, and sometimes a few days go by without taking care of the little things. Don’t quit. Remembering how much you’ll have to “pay later” will help keep you on track.

• Celebrate your successes. Keeping up with life’s little chores is a big thing. Pat yourself on the back each time you accomplish one of those tasks.

This month decide to “pay now” on one of your dreaded daily tasks. Schedule a time and place to start. Set a timer. Celebrate your progress. Pay now so you can play later. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2011

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and owner of Get It Together, LLC in Las Vegas, helps people learn how to organize and maintain their spaces using simple, practical strategies.
Renee can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com. She is on Facebook and Linkedin.