Clean Desk = Sick Mind? Organize For Productivity, Profit and Peace-of-Mind (Part 2)

Clean Desk = Sick Mind? Organize For Productivity, Profit and Peace-of-Mind (Part 2)

As promised, I will share with you tips, tools and techniques. They will help you gain control of your time, your activities…your life. They will allow you to focus on your priorities and they will free up time for yourself and/or your loved ones.

Some “funny” folks claim to have a sign in their office, which says: “A Clean desk is a sign of a sick mind” (a quote by none other, than Albert Einstein.) The fact is that clutter can never contribute to productivity and peace of mind. Making a joke of it simply won’t help. A cluttered desk or office is guaranteed to increase your stress level.

Let’s get organized! Not as a goal, but as the first step. The goal must be to learn to STAY organized.

Oh, but when you think of getting organized, you might say: “It’s too painful and complicated”, “I don’t have the right personality”, “I don’t have the time”, “I’ll become a control freak”, “It will limit my creativity”.

As a professional organizer, I heard all these “objections” or, shall I say, excuses. I will show you that anyone can get, and more importantly, stay organized. You only need to admit to having the problem and the motivation to do something about it.

The first thing we must tackle is the accumulated paper on, in and around your desk. Here are some steps to start eliminating the (paper) clutter:

1. “Chaos-to Organized Chaos.” Collect and place all your papers into one or two large (vertical) piles.

2. Get 3 boxes. Label them: File, Action and Toss.

3. Start pre-sorting your documents into the 3 categories/boxes. Start at the top and look at each document. For each piece of paper ask some of the following questions:

– Does this require any action? (If yes, it goes into the Action box)
– Do I need or want to keep it? (If yes, it goes into the File box)
– If neither, it goes into the Toss / Recycling box. Hip-hip-hurray!

4. How to decide what to Toss? Ask some of these questions. Be tough!

– Is it recent enough to be useful?
– Can you replace it again, if or when you need it?
– Does it have any specific use? “Just in case” is not good enough.
– Are there any tax or legal implications?
– What’s the worst thing that can happen if I throw it away?

Consider this: 80% of what you file will hardly ever be looked at again!

Having gone through your piles and pre-sorted them in the way described, you will be well on your way towards setting up an effective filing system. That will be the topic of my next column.

Please remember – and you’ll hear me say this often – you are not spending time, you are investing time, by getting organized.