Taking Care of the Niggly Things: How to Power Through Them

It seems every time I clean up, I always find random scraps and bits that don’t seem to fit anywhere. This happens whether I’m tidying up physical or electronic stuff. For example, I organize emails with folders and labels. However, I usually have at least one email that doesn’t fit anywhere. Then I have a dilemma, do I create a special place for one email? Leave it floating around? Or try to shove it somewhere it doesn’t quite fit hoping to remember where later. 

With electronic stuff, I have the option to search for things using keywords. In the physical world, if I put something somewhere and can’t remember, it’s lost. Usually this results in a time-consuming hunt around the house. 

When these niggly things hang around for too long, I often end up shoving them in a bag or box, in frustration or desperation, as a to-do later. Believe it or not, this strategy has benefits.

Strategy Pros and Cons

  1. The mess is “neatened” up and strategically all located in one place, even if it takes me a while to plow through if I’m looking for something.
  2. I have a starting point when I’m feeling motivated to purge and organize stuff.
  3. It gives me a chance to evaluate if I really need the stuff that didn’t have a home. Chances are if I don’t remember it, or think about it, for months (years), then I probably don’t need it.

There are also downsides to this strategy.

  1. I have to touch something multiple times before making a decision.
  2. The mess isn’t resolved. It just moves around from box to bag to corner to pile.
  3. Finding things is sometimes difficult. Plus the clutter builds up.

Powering Through

The main goal is to make sure I can find things when I need them. Hopefully I can locate them with minimal effort and searching. I like to use a combined strategy.

  1. If I find something unique, I leave it for a while to see if I will receive other things that fit with it. This gives me a solid starting point for organizing the items.
  2. I set my timer for a short period of time over a week to chip away at things with a slow and steady pace.
  3. Finally, when all else fails, bagging stuff up for later works in a pinch as a temporary fix to maintain my sanity.

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