In my recent article The Eight Things You Can Do With a Piece of Paper, I talk about some principles for taking the stress and difficulty out of organizing the piles of paper that can sometimes grow unwanted around our homes and workspaces. But that article didn’t really address the question of why someone would want to put the time and effort into organizing papers in the first place. For instance, if a person has been used to living in the midst of stacks of paper for years, why shouldn’t that person just continue doing so?
Well, certainly not everyone needs to organize papers, and even people who can benefit from it might do better to avoid it if by doing so they can get some more pressing things done. For instance, if it’s between organizing papers and working on broken ideas to address a serious problem with anxiety, I say let the papers pile up.
Still, here are some benefits of organizing papers for those of us not in that kind of position:
- It helps you capture tasks, responsibilities, ideas, and resources that otherwise might be hidden or forgotten
- You will probably find you can get rid of a lot of papers you don’t need, freeing up space and simplifying your environment
- Organized papers look better and are more motivating for most people than piles, drawers, or boxes of papers
- Things you didn’t know you had or forgot about can often surface during the organization process, not uncommonly including money
- The wonderful feeling of “THERE that thing is!”
- When you actually need some of the material you’ve organized, it will be easy to find it
- You can make much better use of information you have on paper when it’s collected by subject and easy to find
- Even a small amount of organizing work can help create a sense of satisfaction, order, and empowerment
Keep in mind that just organizing papers once in a major effort isn’t success: success is building a habit of keeping papers organized as they come in so that they are immediately available when they’re needed. Conveniently, this habit can be built up by regularly–ideally, every day–grabbing a few papers and taking care of them. You don’t have to make a massive initial effort to get things organized; it can just become a regular part of your day.
Photo by jasra