Previously, we suggested a few products from our Organization page to help clear papers off your desk. It’s easy to see these suggestions and follow them for a few days, but without a good system and routines in place, the clutter may find its way back. To stay organized for the long haul, there are important steps to take.
Look at all of the office supplies you have on your desk. Do you have a stapler? A tape dispenser? A holder full of paper clips, pushpins, or extra pens? All of these are good to have around, of course. But think about how often you actually use them. If it’s not every day, why is it out in the open? Your desk surface should be limited only to items that are always in use. Reserve a drawer, preferably a top drawer, for important supplies that might be used a couple times a week. That makes them just as easy to get to, but frees up desk space for getting work done and creates more incentive for keeping it clear. A desk already full of unnecessary items makes it easier to excuse more of a mess.
If you have a lot of papers coming in, you probably already have some sort of letter tray. If not, it can be a good way to process incoming work. The key words here are "can" and "process." The trick to managing a letter tray is never to put anything back in there once you look at it. Once you take it out, either deal with it right away or mark it with Post-It flags as discussed before. A good strategy would be to assign colors based on urgency and importance, and whether the paper itself ultimately needs to be archived (and how accessible it will need to be) or if it can be tossed once the work is done. Once marked, put it in your file box or a To-Do folder- somewhere you can get to regularly but where its contents won’t distract you while you’re working on something else. Refresh your To-Do pile frequently and clear out your letter tray daily.
Making a habit of regular cleaning is a good way to promote organization. It’s a good task for Friday when you’re counting the minutes until the weekend. Cleaning your entire desk surface with a disinfecting wipe is a great way to prevent the spread of disease, but is also easier when the desk is clear. You’ll be encouraged to put stuff away, might find loose notes that can be discarded, and challenges you to think about how useful everything on your desk is. By keeping it on your mind regularly and making constant assessments and adjustments, you can keep your desk clean and free of distractions and use it for getting work done instead of storage.