Clearing My Desk (or anything else). Time management tool: DELAY


Do you have piles of paper on your desk or around the house?  Have you tried to deal with them, but were unsuccessful?  I can relate.  What helped me was the time management tool: DELAY.


My desk was always piled with papers, unless I shifted them to the floor.  I couldn’t clear the papers no matter how many times I put it on my to-do list.  These are some of the strategies I tried and was unsuccessful at.  I am sure you have tried them also.

  • Don’t procrastinate: do it now!
  • Start at the top of the pile and work down, one piece of paper at a time.
  • Flip the pile so you are working from the bottom of the pile to the top.


Then learned there can be a good kind of delay.   I was taught to “delay” or “set aside the backlog, deal with today, then slowly deal with the backlog.”


There was one big reason I couldn’t deal with the paper:  I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT!!!  There was a second commonality:  FEW THINGS WERE IMPORTANT!!!


Rather than deal with each item, I quickly sorted through the papers on the floor and desk and separated them into three categories:

  • throw-away,
  • deal with now
  • deal with later if at all.


After I tossed some of the papers and put the important ones on my desk, I stuck the remaining papers in a file folder in my desk.  It was such a relief to know where the undecided papers were, but I didn’t have to look at them every day.   I also could think of a time to deal with them.   January during a football game?  After I had surgery on my foot and couldn’t get around?  Maybe even toss the whole lot after a few months?    With most of the papers gone, now I could easily deal with the important papers.


The concept of “delay” can be used in other areas of the home. When you are decluttering, use this concept of “delay” or “set aside the backlog, deal with today, then slowly deal with the backlog.”  For instance, if you are working in your kitchen, it might look like:

  1. Get the dishes washed and put away.
  2. Clear of the counters by:
    1. Throwing things away like old junk mail, ugly plants or outdated decorations.
    2. Putting things in cabinets or drawers that you are not sure of.
  3. Slowly work on the backlog in the drawers and cabinets.


I am now excited about my clean desk and my file for things I can do much later if at all.  Most important, I am getting the important things done!  Give yourself permission to do delay making decisions.  Tuck some clutter away.  DELAY.  Enjoy the clean, flat surfaces of your home.  Do the important things!


BTW: after clearing off my desk, I booked a trip to Portugal for my husband and me for almost two years from now.  I am blogging and improving my musical skills.  What does life have in store for YOU!


paper problems

piles of paper on desk and floor

make a “delay” file

A clean, inspiring desk.

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