David Allen, the productivity guru and author of the perennial best-seller, Getting Things Done, recommends that followers of his organizing principles get themselves a little device known as the P-Touch labeler. It’s a hand-held battery-operated gizmo with a miniature QWERTYUIOP keyboard that produces crisp black letters on white sticky tape and can be used for affixing labels on just about anything, but especially file folders.
I have had the PT-65 (now replaced by the PT-80 or PT-1000) for several years.
One long weekend a few years ago I holed up with my P-Touch and labeled every single file (as well as a bunch of binders and boxes). Everything was so legible that they could be read at ten feet by a blind man.
My youngest son found my P-touch passion incredibly amusing. When I wasn’t looking one night, he made labels for other things around the house “refrigerator” “toilet” “closet” and even one for the cat: “Fritz”.
I don’t mind being ridiculed – these labels keep in place the façade of order. Even if the file folders fill up with useless outmoded information over time I feel good when I open the drawer.
This week I did clutter-clearings for two separate clients, one new, and the other a return visit. When I first walked into the new client’s home I was wondering what the problem was. The entry way, living room, dining room, master bedroom and bath were spare and in perfect order.
But then we entered the family room. The big round coffee table was heaped with books, papers and exercise DVDs. The couch was similarly covered.
“I like to work here because I don’t really like my office,” she said. “I just feel less scattered here.”
So then we went into her office.
No wonder she felt scattered! Paper everywhere. Piles on the floor, piles on the table, piles nearly burying her computer. One corner was filled with boxes of photos, clippings for future collages, and magazines to be clipped for future collages. A basket held mail she hadn’t opened in a week.
I wish I could say that after two hours we made major headway. But she was so petrified by her piles that it took an hour of tea and talking for her even to touch the first pile.
Then I brought out the P-Touch. We labeled a few file folders with it and stood them upright in her file drawer. She was so happy. Suddenly she could imagine order, control.
She’s buying her own P-Touch.
Yesterday I revisited a couple I’d seen before Christmas. Both of them had major paper issues. The husband got hooked on the P-Touch and has been tossing crap and labeling the rest ever since. The wife was finally willing to move ahead herself.
We talked about how she’d like her office to be once she was done, and with that vision in mind she became a tossing fool. We filled three big boxes with paper of every sort. Then we labeled a few files with her husband’s P-Touch. Another convert. She’s buying her OWN.
Brother should give me a commission.