There’s No Stress in a Clean Desk
Simple Steps to Getting and Keeping a Clean Desk
Ah…work. Whether it’s quarter-time, part-time, full-time or something in between it’s still just that…work! And the more organized you can be at work the more productive you can be there which means you can do less work at home! And let’s face it, now that you’re going to be getting all these fantastic tips on how to get organized at home too you’re going to want to have some time to get your stuff together there too. You don’t have time to be catching up work at home…you have mail to check and cute baskets of goodies to make for the next baby shower! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about be sure to get caught up in the Home and Kids categories after you finish here.)
So how do you stay organized at work? Well, that’s way more complicated than one post, so I’m going to lay out the basics. I believe that there are three main areas that must stay “clean” in a work space. Some people have different work spaces than others. I’m going to talk from the experience of my workspace but you might have to adapt the ideas to your own. When I say “clean” I mean that at the end of every day, these three areas are cleared, double checked, and ready for the next day. These areas are your desk, your to-do list and your inbox. Today, we’ll tackle your desk.
(Now, I’m going to just stop here and say that if you’re one of those people who want to quote one of those articles about how messy offices or spaces breed creativity and different people work different way that’s perfectly fine with me. I will respectfully disagree with you and continue not to comprehend how anyone can function with piles and piles of stuff on their desk. Not my thing, never will be. It makes my eye twitch.) Let’s carry on, shall we?
How to get your desk clean the FIRST time:
- Before you get started you’ll need some file folders (I like different colors so I can categorize within my drawers), some drawer organizers for office supplies, and a file organizer for the top of your desk.
- Clean out all the drawers – put all office supplies such as stapler, pens, paper clips, scissors, etc. together
- Stack all folders that already have paper in them in one pile and all loose paper in a separate pile
- Once everything is out of the desk, clean it really well…I mean when are you really going to have your desk that empty again?
- Put your office supplies back in your drawers using your drawer organizers
- Now, go through all the folders that already have paper in them and throw away any papers that you no longer need
- Lay out all the folders on a table or the floor (sweep the floor if you need to before you do this, no need to put dirt back into a clean desk!)
- Put the loose papers in the folders to which they belong, if you come to a paper that doesn’t have a folder get one of the new folders and make a new one right then, add it to the table or floor and keep going until there are no loose papers
- Put all the folders back in your desk, organized either alphabetically or by color
- Place the file organizer on top of your desk and put only the files of projects that are coming up in the next month or two in the organizer so they are easily accessible
- Take one more folder (I like the color red for “Important”) and label it “To Do” or “Follow Up’
- Congrats! You cleaned your desk!
How to keep your desk clean EVERY day:
- In the 15 minutes before you leave each day the ritual of cleaning the three areas – your desk, your to do list and your inbox, should begin
- You should go through anything left on your desk and find its place either in a desk drawer, in someone else’s office, a file folder, etc.
- A key to maintaining a clean desk is keeping empty file folders on hand so that any time there are papers that need a new folder you have one and don’t have a reason to just make a pile until you get a new folder
- If there’s a piece of paper that you need in order to finish something later in the week or that’s not ready to be filed yet, that’s when you use your “To Do” or “Follow Up” folder in your file organizer– this will help keep loose papers off your desk but keep them from getting lost all together