My Desktop Piling System

Desktop Piling System

About 25 years ago my manager at the time, Brian, introduced me to a new phrase when describing my work area. He called it a “Piling System”. I accepted the comment as an acceptable way for my manger to call me a slob. In the years since I have come to embrace the term at a much deeper level. It is easier for me to find “the thing” when it is “stored” in direct context to where and when I last used “the thing”. For example, the receipt under the USB hub that has been in that spot for 3 weeks I remember is for a purchase I can return if needed. So, if “the thing” breaks, I know right where to find “the thing’s” paperwork. I won’t remember the association until “the thing” breaks, so putting this receipt in a traditional filing system would be almost useless to me.

All you judgmental numerical, alphabetic, Dewey decimal, etc. people can laugh or shun me, but these are the facts! Where you see as chaos, I see order (my sincere apologies to my very patient wife and understanding family and co-workers).

In addition to the social tension, another drawback to the piling system is the piles can get stale. The other receipts on my desktop, all expired – should have been thrown away. The screws, the 2nd bottle of eyeglass cleaner should all go. Unfortunately, to a “piler” like me they are already there! So out of a combination of social responsibility and self-preservation I will occasionally “straighten” my desk. I grab 2 containers a trash can and a “keep box”. I find one of those 15 quart clear stackable plastic bins does the trick as an acceptable “keep box”. Five minutes sorting keep and trash time, the desk is clear. Plus, the stacked bins look an awful lot like a pile – something I can deal with. When I need “the thing” I put in that bin 2 years ago I know its in one of those boxes. Ok, not perfect.

I have deployed a similar approach for all those Windows* desktop icons that seem to reproduce. I create a bin/folder on my desktop called clutter. When the screen gets too cluttered, I drag all the icons I’m not using into the clutter directory, sometimes even creating “date-range” subfolders. About 5 times in the decade or more I’ve used this system I’ve actually opened the clutter folder up and found something I needed. Twice now I’ve felt especially rebellious and opened the clutter folder and deleted everything. If only I could grow to do that with my other useless piles.  I think I’ll start here:




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