Clean Desk. Clean Mind
Lovingly calling your chaotic desk the expression of imagination is just a nice way of saying you’re lazy. Yes you! You know your desk is a mess: you can’t find anything and you’re downright uncomfortable when you’re trying to work. It’s time to stop working and focus on cleaning out your desk.
It’s laughable to suggest that your ‘organised chaos’ is effective: productivity will dive if you can’t think straight, and a messy desk is likely to boggle most of us.
Call The Bin To Action
Your first port of call should be the bin. Clean everything out from your desk that you don’t need. Check all of the pens to make sure they work; if they don’t then bin them. Bits of paper, freebies, old lunches, sweets you bought months ago – essentially anything that you don’t use at least once a week should be shown the door (or the bottom of the bin at least!).
Things that you use put on the floor, for now, or commission another desk or table to use while you’re organising.
You know what, though, you could also treat the crazy in you and just push everything (unbreakable) off your desk… goooo on – push it away. It all has to be cleaned and sorted anyway, so why not?
Clean Your Desk
With everything off your desk, you can give your desk a good clean. Take the drawers out and get rid of all the dust and paperclips hiding at the back, scrub down the top and treat it to a little wood polish (or the less-luxurious multi-purpose cleaner).
Organise Paper Castle Into One Tower
Now, you’ve probably built a small castle to work in out of piles of bits of paper. Think about your business: what areas of your life do you have to organise? Most of us need an inbox, several need a place to put things we need to come back to later – an ‘on hold’ tray, if you will. Then there’s ‘ongoing projects’, and ‘can’t just touch once’. Whatever YOU need near you, build an intray tower that suits your needs.
On top of that, you’ll also need to create an archive tray, that will have stuff you MUST clean away and file at the end of the day. What I suggest, to motivate you to file the archive stuff, is to put something at the bottom of the ‘to file’ tray, so when you’ve done your job, you can reward yourself. Keeping files organised daily will make your life so much easier.
Place a bin next to your desk and, if you can, set up a recycling area.
Clean Your Head
With your tray tower in place you need to adapt the way you think – and this is the hard part. If you can complete a task in only a little time, rather than having it hang over you, then DO it. Don’t file it and build a pile of two-minute-tasks that will take hours to deal with. Deal with it now and file it at the end of the day. Cutting out paper as much as possible, will also help.
If you can work electronically, you’ll also find you need far fewer bits of paper. I’m a teacher part-time, and I get a lot of papers to mark. Instead of having them handed to me printed out, I get students to e-mail me, and I mark in Word. All of my registers and markbooks are on my netbook, which goes everywhere with me. I have no need to clean away bits of paper. All my important notes are in my planner, which fits very well in my netbook bag – so I have no need for post-its or scraps of paper there either.
Don’t hoard things. Maybe this has come from growing up with a mother who holds onto everything just in case it will come in useful. I don’t. If I need something, I’ll get it when I need it. Holding onto freebies is just going to add to the mess.
Most importantly don’t eat at your desk if you can possibly help it, and get yourself into a routine, so that you won’t let your desk get into such a state again.