5 steps to your tidy desk

You won’t believe all the excuses I get from people about their untidy desks!

“It’s because I’m creative”

“I know where everything is”

Sound familiar?

This may very well be true. However, for most people, an untidy desk makes you feel overwhelmed and out of control. And, in the workplace, it’s often perceived that you don’t know what you’re doing if your desk is a mess.

How can you be productive when you’re overwhelmed?

The good news is that it’s a lot easier than you think.

You can have a tidy desk in just 5 steps:

1. Set up your desk properly

If you answer the phone with your left hand, then keep the phone to the left of your computer. Now this might seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at the number of people I encounter who have to scramble and reach behind their computer to get to the phone. It’s like that game Twister!

2. Touch each piece of paper once only

This step forces you to make decisions – throw away, action, forward or file. Those are the only choices you have 😉

Don’t start thinking about it and put that piece of paper back in another pile!

3. Have one notebook for all your notes

When you take messages or need to quickly jot down a note, write it in your ONE notebook. You shouldn’t have 10 post-it notes and lots of other pieces of paper on your desk. Better still, write the date on the top of every page so you can reference old information quickly. And start each day on a new page – literally!

4. Clear junk regularly

Every time you get up to go to the loo or for a coffee break, clear your desk of empty mugs, glasses, snacks, etc. The same goes for all those dry markers and pens that don’t work. Throw them out!

5. Have only the papers you’re actually working with on your desk

I have a rather strong fondness for plastic envelopes. I use these nifty tools to keep my many projects sorted. When I want to work on something, I just grab one of these and open up the contents on my desk. I even bought one on holiday in the UK.
See? Easy!

You can also have a neat and tidy desk in just 5 steps.

Now what I suggest you do is a quick, 30-second tidy every evening when you finish your work so you’re ready and raring to go the following day.

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  1. “touch each paper only once” is what does me in too many times. I set it aside for later and then later never comes. I have found that when I do practice this “rule” my desk life is much less chaotic.

  2. Thanks I needed this I will be working on my desk later today !!!!!!
    thanks for the tips

  3. The steps are simple…it’s the 30 second tidying at the end of the day is what I fail to do – something will cause me to get up from the desk and then I forget to come back to it to tidy….I’m an artist and I hate it that I’ve left my paint brushes in my paintbrush cleaner the next morning becuase I’d forgotten to tidy up my work space before finishing for the day…I think I need to develope that routine! And like Lawanna above – I do the same – setting aside paperwork or whateve for later and later doesn’t come – starting too many tasks at once…I suppose multi-task while wonderful does put a big damper of trying to organize oneself….love your tips!

  4. I totally agree with all of your tips here.

    I especially agree with, and use, the “one notebook” concept. It’s so effective.

  5. Great tips, Marcia! I have a three ring binder that I keep on my desk with pocket dividers for all my notes and tasks that I work on throughout the day. It works great!

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