A Miscellaneous Category Is No Use When You're Sorting

When you're confronted with a huge mound of paper to file or a cupboard in desperate need of taming, it's tempting to put seemingly one-off items in a 'miscellaneous' category. Resist the urge — that way lies madness and future clutter.

Picture by ttcopley

The Oprah magazine site offers a roundup of habits which organised people use to stay on top of work, life and clutter. Many of them are familiar material for Lifehacker readers, but there's one that's always worth emphasising even for experienced organisers — the dangers of using a 'miscellaneous' category when you're trying to sort paperwork or declutter a room:

You put a bunch of things into a file or box and write this catchall across the front. "But within a week you've forgotten what's in there," says [Lifehacker favourite Julie]Morgenstern. Instead, sort items into specific groups—"electric bills," "lightbulbs," and so on.

Throwing something in a miscellaneous file or box essentially says "I haven't got time to deal with this right now". But if you can't make time when you're actually in the process of organising, when will you ever make time? Invest the extra energy and be specific — either create a category that's worthwhile or throw the offending paper/widget/cable out.

The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People


    I kinda/almost/sorta disagree with the comment "if you can’t make time when you’re actually in the process of organising, when will you ever make time".

    I use misc box/file labels interchangeably with "to do later". Ultimately, if I'm applying my GTD principles, I /will/ get back to it at a later date.

    That said, I do have a 5 year old box of 'misc computer cables' in my garage...

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now