Remedies for a Desk Disaster

Is your desk a disaster area?

If you find yourself navigating mounds of papers each time you sit down, can never find a pen or pencil when you need one, or simply can’t see the desktop, your desk qualifies! A cluttered work area is likely to contribute to higher levels of stress, either because there is too much information for your eye to process or because each time you approach your desk, you’re reminded of how disorganized you are.

Your productivity is also likely to suffer because chances are it takes you longer to find what you need when you need it. Since many of us spend the majority of our waking hours at our desks, the constant, low-level stress and lost productivity due to desk clutter are likely to have an outsized impact on our daily lives.

Alicia on ‘Never Giving Up’

‘Some people naturally keep their desks neat as a pin and some are more prone to accumulating stuff. I’m living proof that even ‘professional organizers’ can suffer from desk clutter! Most of us will have bad days (or weeks) where stuff piles up because we’re too busy to file papers, sort through the mail, throw out old sticky notes, or generally dig out from under the onslaught of work. So don’t beat yourself up if your desk is a mess. But also don’t assume that you’re just a ‘messy desk’ type of person and that there’s no hope for you. Everyone is capable of having a relatively buttoned up desk area.’

Sarah on ‘Overcoming Inertia’

‘A cleaner desk will not just reduce your overall stress levels it will most likely translate into extra time. If you’re inundated with clutter, you probably waste up to an hour a day searching for misplaced items and lost files. But we also understand that no matter how dazzling the prospects are of more time and a more relaxing environment, often those thoughts are not enough to get you over your organizational inertia and take action. The real trick is to just do something. Pick one small pile to tackle and you’ll get momentum going in the right direction.’

Digging Out from Under

Tame your desk disaster with these simple tips.

#1: Contain Clutter Piles
Clutter piles spread like weeds when you have no containment strategy. Buy a simple basket or inbox and force yourself to put any and all loose papers, mail, and notes into the basket. When it is full, rather than letting it overflow and pile on your desk, deal with the items in the basket immediately. Create three piles: toss, file, record; and deal with each accordingly. It should take at most ten minutes to get to the bottom of it all.

#2: Give Everything a Home
Items like pens, paper clips, binder clips, highlighter pens, telephone notepads, and tape dispensers all take up precious room. In addition to restricting your paper piles to a basket, try keeping these desk accessories contained in either a drawer or desk caddy. That way, you have the benefit of a clear desk and you’ll waste less time hunting around for them when you really need them.

#3: Keep a Notebook
A lot of paper clutter can be reduced by keeping an office notebook. A simple notebook can the perfect place for keeping daily or weekly to-do lists, jotting down phone numbers, taking notes, and just generally staying on top of details. Using one will also likely reduce the amount of time you waste looking for lost numbers and post-it-notes with bits of information. Just remember to force yourself to look back at the notebook for the first few weeks until it becomes a habit.