Is your desk out of control? If you’re like a lot of people, you have more work on your desk than you can handle. Things tend to pile up. People might even ask you how you can find anything on your desk, or wonder aloud if there’s a desk underneath all of your paper.
Even if you think you have a handle on your desk, you probably need to admit that there have been times that you’ve had difficulty putting your hands on what you needed – when you needed it. Here are some quick and easy ideas to help you get your desk organized for good.
- The first step is to sort through everything on your desk and get rid of what you don’t need. The chances are good that you have things buried there that are outdated and unnecessary. Putting this step first can help you get a huge boost of energy and confidence. Toss or recycle anything you can.
- As you work, it may be helpful to sort through items. For example, if you find things that need to be filed, put those in one pile. Put action items in a separate pile, and so on. Organizing as you go can make the rest of the process a little less painful than it would be otherwise.
- Once you have cleared your desk and sorted things into piles, take a moment to look at your basic desk setup before you start putting things back. Having things in the right place can make a big difference. Your monitor should be directly in front of your chair and at eye level. Your phone should be on your dominant side so you don’t have to reach across your body to answer it, and you should have a space on that side that’s big enough for a notebook or standard sheet of paper for easy note-taking.
- It’s also a good idea to dust and clean your desk at this point. Even when it’s buried under stacks of paper, desks can accumulate dust and grime. You’ll feel better if you give it a good cleaning.
- An inbox used to be a desk staple, but many people no longer use them – and that’s a shame. The benefit of having an inbox is that it gives you – and the people who might be dropping work on your desk – a designated place to put it. If you have one, you’ll always know what items need your attention.
- Rethink your filing system. When was the last time you really gave thought to the way you file things? Many people work at the same job for years and continue doing things the same way, even when technological advances have changed job procedures dramatically. Look at your files, get rid of any outdated folders and create new ones as needed. Relabel everything so there is no confusion.
- Create a folder for pending items. The chances are good that many of the items cluttering your desk right now are WOR – waiting on response. Since there’s nothing you can do with them until you hear back, put them in a separate folder. You can also set up a follow-up system so you can keep on top of the people who owe you responses.
- Create another folder for items to be filed. Put them in there as you finish with them. If you alphabetize as you go you can speed up the filing process, too.
- Minimize personal items on your desktop. Nobody wants to work at a desk with no personality, but too many personal items on your desk can make it a challenge to keep your work in order. Keep a few small items that mean the most to you, and move others to a drawer or credenza.
- Empty your drawers and use partitions or containers to organize them. If you have a drawer that’s a mish-mash of paper clips, white out, pens, and Post-its, it’s time to get it under control. You can easily use small boxes, partitions, or a desk drawer organizer to get things sorted out so you can find them easily.
- Do the same on your desktop. Only office supplies that you use multiple times every day should be out on your desk. Everything else should be neatly stored in a drawer where you can get to it when you need it.
Going forward, you can set aside a few minutes at the end of the day to sort things into their proper place. If you stay on top of time management and keeping your desk organized, then things will stay relatively neat and you’ll be able to put them back in order easily – ensuring that you can always find the things you need.