What does your desk look like?
Mine looks like this . . . frankly, it’s a mess. Every time I manage to shift something a new piece of paper magically appears from somewhere. People think they’re doing me a favour if they put the new stuff in a new pile.
And PostIt notes! I usually try and keep all (OK, most) notes electronically, but that’s not working right now in Week 8. The damn PostIt notes seem to be breeding and forming their own little tribes, all competing with each other for a bit of attention and the fast-shrinking desk real estate.
And the box of non-health approved chocolate fish . . . they should have swum off over a week ago and it just hasn’t quite happened . . . maybe tomorrow.
Which brings me to the pile.
The one you built over the past Term and/or year.
Some people have an actual pile. A regularly added to vertical stack of paper that lives in their office (or home). Some hide it in a cupboard or a filing cabinet and some have it on obvious display.
Some people have a digital pile. Folders or desktops full of files, links, and website favourites that don’t clutter up a physical desk but do clutter up a computer drive. Digital piles are still piles!
Whatever the particular type of pile, they all have characteristics in common – they represent an eclectic mix of optimism, possibility and indecision. The items added definitely have value. If they didn’t, you would have rejected them, and both figuratively and literally thrown them away. You wouldn’t even remember what they were.
But you didn’t do that with your pile inhabitants. They piqued your interest enough to make you keep them. To let them contribute to your failure to keep a clear desktop.
For any particular item, you may have optimistically planned to “get back to it” but here you are in Term 4 Week 8 and the evidence is you haven’t managed to. Perhaps the item represented possibility – an awesome PLD course, a new maths scheme, or free dog safety training for everyone . . . too good to reject, not good enough to action when you had to prioritise.
Which is why all piles are essentially about indecision. And no one wants to be an indecisive school leader. So a pile also comes with a slightly negative vibe, the merest whiff of failure faintly wafting from the evidence of your indecision . . .
The good news is that there is a simple solution. Throw the pile away. Delete it.
How many times have you come into work during the Christmas holidays and started flicking through your pile only to finally admit you will never do anything with any of it, so you pull over a rubbish bin?
Or look at your computer desktop and start deleting (although at least one person I know organises their piles into folders for each year which forever more haunt their back-ups and storage space)?
There is a real sense of lightness and freedom that comes from finally biffing a pile. It’s a figurative and literal cleansing that feels really good. I’m going to act earlier next year and dare you to do the same!
(If you are feeling worried that your personal reality is not good, you can draw some comfort from research done by the University of Minnesota and published in Psychological Science, that shows there are pros and cons to your current state! Read more here.)
Happy Week 8.5!