Plowing through the Paper Piles

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Quick Thought of the Day

from Maria Gracia

If you are not already a subscriber to Maria Gracia’s excellent Get Organized Now newsletter, you’re missing out on a great resource. 

Her most recent “special” issue contained a great article with tips that just might help more than a few of us who are drowning in paper. It also contained some nifty tips from readers that I’m not sharing – you have to get your OWN subscription if this taste test suits your palate!  (It’s a free resource, by the way )

Seriously, if you are “organizationally impaired” and haven’t already stumbled across Maria’s website, RUN to sign up – you’ll thank me for that tip many times.  In addition to her free newsletter, she also has some nifty organizing systems for sale on her site.  (Disclosure:  NO hidden agenda — I don’t make a penny for sharing this with you. I don’t even know the woman, except as a subscriber.)

Consider this a sort-of “reblog”

Those of you who have been following closely already know that, after one test of WordPress’s “reblog” feature (inflicted on all of you – sorry!), I decided not to use it ever again. 

I didn’t find their formatting particularly ADD-friendly. Those of you who struggle with reading would be likely to run away screaming, but I still run into content that I want to be able to share. Hmmmmmmm . . .

I decided to work around around the feature (not a bug?) from here on out. Respecting the spirit, if not the letter of reblogging’s intent, cutting, pasting, formatting, attributing and linking is my ADD work-around.

Enjoy her article!

Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, MCC, SCAC

No More Paper Piles

Those pesky paper piles…they sneak up on you and before you know it, you find yourself wincing every time you enter your kitchen or office. You may even have nightmares about missed deadlines and unpaid bills.

Remember, YOU are stronger than a bunch of paper.

Recognize your pile for what it is…a bunch of postponed decisions. Deciding is 90% of the battle, and here is your battle plan.

1) Prepare:

To get through your piles, you will need 3 separate file folders (OR a stackable file sorter with separate levels) labeled as: Urgent, Important, and To Be Filed.

  • Urgent = Immediate Action Required
  • Important = Action Required, but Not Urgent
  • To Be Filed = No Action Required, but Needs to be Kept

2) Trick Yourself:

Turn your pile of paper upside down. The papers on the bottom of the pile are likely to be the oldest, making it easier to decide their fate. This will cheer you up and make you feel productive fast.

3) Decide:

As you pull each paper from the pile, quickly decide what action, if any, needs to be taken. For instance, if the paper item is an unpaid credit card bill then place this item in the Urgent file.

Listed below are some more examples…

  • ITEM: A business card from an old high school friend you ran into at the dentist’s office.
  • ACTION: Put it in the Important file to add to contact list and then toss.

* * * * *

  • ITEM: A handmade Mother’s Day card from your 6-year-old daughter.
  • ACTION: Place in the To Be Filed folder.

* * * * *

  • ITEM: An unopened bank credit card offer.
  • ACTION: This is an easy one…shred.

* * * * *

  • ITEM: A rebate for $12 from a manufacturer.
  • ACTION: Jackpot! Place in Urgent pile for immediate transfer to wallet and from there to the bank.

* * * * *

  • ITEM: Wedding invitation with an RSVP due in less than 2 weeks.
  • ACTION: Straight to Urgent folder.

* * * * *

4) Take action:

Think of your Urgent pile as your To Do list. Make a game of it. See if you can take care of your whole Urgent pile in 30 minutes or less. Repeat with your Important pile.

Don’t hesitate to change your mind and decide to toss. File each item in your To Be Filed pile.

Remember . . . paper is sneaky

Just one piece of paper on your desk magically attracts others and can grow into a pile overnight.

 Falling Stacks from 

 smaller graphic from the Business and Office album at

As always, if you want notification of new articles on Organization – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on

More organizing articles here on

MORE from Maria:

Speaking of paper piles away, if you have them, have no fear. We have immediate help for you. In fact, with our solution, your papers will be organized so well, that you’ll be able to find anything you need in seconds, and you’ll never have to waste time searching again?! For details, CLICK HERE.

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen Site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, comment (or follow), you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

6 Responses to Plowing through the Paper Piles

  1. EB says:

    Had a weird 506 error for Gracia’s page, but that has cleared up– as always, thanks for the great link/reblog!


  2. I’m going to be turning my piles of paperwork upside down. Great idea! It’s simplified by only 3 piles, and I’m going to work on that. Thanks for the tips.


  3. Jean Latting says:

    Love this post! My favorite line in it hit me right between the eyes. You said, “Recognize your pile for what it is…a bunch of postponed decisions. Deciding is 90% of the battle, ”



    • Yup indeed! It’s also the toughest campaign of the battle – which is why we postpone them to begin with (waiting for tomorrow when the skies will clear, perhaps? or for somebody to send us a personal assistant who LOVES to make decisions?) 😀

      How ARE things with you? I have been beyond slammed – and recent bigtime WordPress oddities have eaten my life in great big bites, or I would have jumped over to see what YOU are up to l-o-n-g before now.

      Anybody reading CLICK HERE – for a post that features Jean and the big game she is playing with her life (links there that will connect you to her site).


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