5 Questions To Help Organize Your Desk

Organize DeskLook at your desk right now. Is it messy? Are you periodically spending lots of time cleaning and organizing your desk, only to have it pile up again a few weeks later? Here are 5 questions from a blog called Productivity 501 that will do more than help you clean your desk – they will change your process and system so you not only get organized, but you stay organized. These questions will help you put an end to your "messy desk syndrome."

1. Do you have reading materials on your desk?

Here are some tips for dealing with reading materials that aren’t ever going to be read:
  • Stop it at the source. If you’re unlikely to read something, cancel the subscription.
  • Opt for more expensive, higher-quality publications. Subscribe to just a few succinct newsletters.
  • Keep what you need. Tear out the articles you want to read, and put them somewhere you are likely to read them.
  • Use RSS Reader or Aggregator. An RSS reader will let you skim a large quantity of sources without filling up your inbox.
  • Get it in audio form. You may be able to listen to audio versions of publications during your commute.
  • Get a bookshelf - Get some real, wooden bookshelves, have a carpenter build some permanent personalized shelves, or use a few cinder blocks and long boards.

2. Does your desk contain items that need to be filed?

If there are items on your desk that need to be filed but haven’t yet been organized, ask yourself, “Why?” Is your filing cabinet too far away or your filing process too annoying? Clutter causes clutter. Put them where they belong so you don’t begin thinking that one more piece of paper doesn’t matter. You may also consider going digital with a lot your paperwork. Are there old files that could be scanned and securely stored on a hard drive, computer, or server?

3. Are there papers on your desk that require action?

If something requires your action but you haven’t gotten to it yet, write a number in the corner or on a sticky tab indicating the number of minutes it would take to deal with it, or at least take the first required action.  If it takes 2 to 5 minute items, ask, “Why didn’t I do it when it first came in?” Understanding why you put off the action will help you keep those papers off your desk in the first place. Papers that require longer action should go into some sort of inbox so they will all be together. If you have a lot of papers that require action in the future, use some sort of tickler system or reminder software to remind you when they need your attention, or delegate them to your assistant.

4. Are there things on your desk that don’t belong there?

A messy desk breeds a messy desk. Do you have other items like business cards that need to be put away? If your desk is clean, you’ll probably put other things away. However, with too much on your desk, there’s no mental anguish in adding another item.

5. Do you have enough storage space?

Consider buying an 8-drawer dresser that can provide a great deal of storage space so everything has a home. You may also consider storing older files off site or even purging them. Keeping your desk organized will probably always require effort. These five questions will help you better identify the sources of your disorganization to keep your desk organized.

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