If you are like me and most people, you probably spend a good amount of time rummaging through your desk looking for an important piece of paper. By the time you find what you are looking for, you realize that you have wasted ten minutes of your time and your desk looks like it has been through a tornado. You say to yourself “there must be something I can do to avoid going through this again!”
Time management experts say that about 60 percent of papers on your desk and at least 80 percent of the objects that are in your desk drawers and file drawers can be thrown away. Some examples are: piles of papers and notes, old and new phone messages, books and magazines, old and new receipts, and several sticky notes of different colors that make your desk look like a rainbow, well… you get the point.
It takes about 2 hours to fully clean and tidy up your desk. That includes going through piles of papers and receipts to make sure you do not get rid of any important information.
The first thing you need to do is to clear out everything on your desk except for the computer and the phone. You can then add back important items one by one, starting with your inbox. You should have no more than three sections deep in your inbox. Assign the three sections to categories that work best for you. Some good examples are “urgent, current, and background” or perhaps “clients, prospects, and resources”.
If you have personal memorabilia and pictures on your desk, hang them on the wall or place them on a shelf.
Use the calendar on your computer or PDA. If you would rather have a paper calendar, mount it on a wall or a bulletin board. The goal is not to have it on your desk yet set up so that you can see it at a glance.
Place one small pencil cup and a stapler on your desk. Put away any supplies such as pens, pencils, tapes, staples, sticky notes, paper clips, etc. neatly organized in a single drawer.
Take five to ten minutes each day toward the end of the day to tidy up your desk and put things back in order. If you have notes or documents that that requires first priority, place them in the center of your clean and orderly desk.