“Out Where I Can See It” is an understandable need, but the problem is if everything is important, then nothing is important. If the front page of a newspaper appeared solid gray with unbroken text, you probably wouldn’t bother with it. It’s too overwhelming. Not only would it take time to prioritize the most important articles, it would take time just to see them! Sounds like a crazy idea, but that’s exactly the problem with having everything spread out on your work surface.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everything should be filed away. Hot items need to be out where they can’t be extinguished, but be selective about those items. HIGHLY selective.
When you have all your to-do’s in piles you can only see the page on top of the pile. What’s underneath is easily forgotten, but you can make a connection to that hidden pile in the same way the headlines of a newspaper connect you to the content. There’s no reason those piles that represent content have to occupy the same space that the smaller “headline” reminders do. Just keep these minimal reminders in one small focused zone and it will be much easier to isolate YOUR focus and get things done!
The other reason it helps to reassign your content piles is because you don’t want them to compromise your most important tool: your work surface. A clear work surface is as vital as a clear runway at the FedEx Airport in Memphis. Another way to recognize your work surface’s value is to compare your office to a computer. Your hard drive needs a lot of memory for documents and applications, but it needs to allocate a sizeable open space for Random Access Memory, so that information can be processed. Your office needs to maintain an open space for processing work too.
With a minimal number of reminders in front of you and a clear work surface to process your work on, you can turn from distraction into ACTION!