upkeep versus buildup

A thought about staying organized:

Most of us have an “I’ll get to that later” pile somewhere in the home. It usually consists of things like unopened mail, random notes written on scraps of paper, a few articles torn out of magazines, the phone number for a dentist a friend jotted down a few months ago, the instruction manual to an appliance, etc.

This pile often outgrows its space. It leaks into drawers and glove compartments, onto dining room tables and stairwells, and perhaps a few pieces even get tucked into a book on a shelf.

At some point, the pile becomes overwhelming. Its contents lump together into one big “I don’t know how to deal with this” thing. The more overwhelming it is, the more one wants to ignore it. The longer one ignores it, the more overwhelming it becomes. Ah… the vicious cycle.

When it gets to that point, I propose setting aside a chunk of hours, putting on some great music, pouring a delicious beverage, and sorting through it all. Dive right in. Toss, recycle, shred, mail, call, file… do what has to get done until that pile is no more.

That’s what is required when the pile has built up. It doesn’t, however, have to get to that point. Just a half hour a week could be sufficient for good upkeep. Clean out those purses, wallets, cars, desks, and briefcases on a regular basis. Sort through that pile before it even becomes one. When it’s just a not-so-intimidating little stack. Make it a habit, a routine. Change the “I’ll get to that later” pile to “my Thursday afternoon” stack or the “while I listen to NPR” stack – whatever floats your boat.

Upkeep is in line with Bacana’s three favorite words which is why, I suppose, I am partial to it.

Do you have any helpful hints for upkeep? Or for handling what has built up to the point of overwhelm?