Monday, January 14th, 2013 is National Clean off your Desk Day!
Spend an hour and make your Desk work for you! Focus on visual results, and save acting on ideas for another day. Corral your papers into meaningful places, so you can see what you have and start getting things done.
Most folks are capable of sorting and piling papers into categories of their own choosing. But mid-sort, they find they need to reclaim their work space, and the papers get piled together again and set aside, instead of finding a new home. So the desk stays a mess, and they never feel “done”.
Another challenge with papers is that they typically represent something else, like a memory, an event, a task to complete or an idea we want to keep. Acknowledging that, you need a physical storage system for your papers and ideas, and the motivation and perseverance to finish and maintain your system. Here is what you need to do:
1. Remove non work related items from your desk.
2. Set up a physical system for Passive Papers (Idea from Freedom Filer, and tweaked for my clients!).
Passive Papers have been acted upon, and now wait for a pre-determined time until they are no longer needed for reference (e.g., receipts, paid bills, balanced bank statements, etc.).
The storage system consists of 24 hanging folders in an open top vertical holder on your desktop (preferred) or a very near desk drawer. Label the folders 2 for each month, with a “- Even Year” or “- Odd Year” tacked on the end. You will end up with two full years of folders, one set for this year, 2013 (ending in “- Odd Year”), and one for last year (“ – Even Year”). “January – Odd, Februrary – Odd” etc. The Even Year folders will hold last year’s papers from your desktop, and the Odd Year folders are for adding to during 2013.
Few papers need to be kept longer than one calendar year.
3. Set up a physical system for Active Papers, also in an open vertical folder holder on your desk top, with folder names based on
- What Actions To Take or By Project, or sometimes, both!
- For Example: What Actions To Take: Receipts for Reimbursement; Calls to Make; Bills to Pay; Forms to complete and return; or Coupons, gift cards and shopping ideas.
- for Example: By Project (examples from my desk): Past clients to check in with; Proposal for Home Office and Productivity Class Series; LLC Research and Paperwork; Event Folder, Baby Shower; Strategic Management, product development ideas
4. Set up a box for Archival Papers / Treasures. Archival Papers are long-term record keeping papers, like home purchase papers, filed taxes, appliance manuals and warranties, wills, etc. Treasures are school project, travel papers, received greeting cards, photos, etc. These are all projects for another day, get them off your desk.
5. Grab two bags, one each for papers to shred later and recycling, and start distributing your desk papers to their new homes. Grab a notebook and jot ideas down as they occur to you, do not get distracted and lose focus.
6. Now, Get Up and Put Your Stuff Away!
You have distributed your papers to your new folders, but you may have other items that need to go elsewhere in your home or office. Get up and Put Them Away in their final homes.
Even if you spend 10 minutes in the middle of your project, Get Up and Put them away. Then bask in the glow of your clean desk top, and keep going.
A fellow organizer calls this the Stand And Deliver step, but I can’t find out who that was, and I would happily give her credit.
The point is…. Embrace “Done”! And feel good about your efforts!