What to Keep Where and For How Long
What to Do When Your Desk Is a Disaster by Ronnie Eisenberg , a nationally recognized time-management and organizational expert.
Many of my clients are truly frantic because their desks are such a mess. They
can't find slips of paper on which they wrote important phone numbers; they
know they received information they sent for, but it's buried in a pile of
paper; they were working on a chapter of a novel, but the notes for the next
chapter are gone. Here's how I counsel them when I make a house call:
Organization is a skill that can be learned. The most difficult part is
breaking your lifelong bad habits (like letting your paperwork pile up). The
key to getting better organized is to start with one small step and then take
others one at a time. You may find that what you've put off for years takes
only an hour to do. And once you see the benefits in one part of your life,
you'll be motivated to go on.
- Address your desk problems in blocks of time. You may be able to straighten
out the clutter in a few hours, or you may need a weekend. Sometimes it's
better to devote a couple of hours a day to the job until you're done.
- Have on hand a trash can, a pen, file folders, labels and the other desk
organizational aids mentioned above that suit your needs.
- Clear the space you want to organize (the desk surface, one of the drawers,
etc.). Then make a big pile of all the paper.
- Evaluate each item, categorize it and put it away (in the desk drawer, in a
file, in one of the desk organizers, etc.), throwing out as much as possible.
- Even when you are feeling overwhelmed, just keep sorting and categorizing.
If you devote the necessary time, your desk can be cleared.
- Enlist the help of a partner;a spouse, a secretary, someone who can help
you keep going.
If you implement the ideas given here, you'll be free from chaos and feel in
charge of your life. Once you've started, stick with it. Getting organized is
the first step; persistence and follow-through will keep you that way. Now, go
Here are some tips to help you work better:
Make it a rule to always refile things. You can establish a special place
(such as a desktop standing file) for current projects, but otherwise put
Put loose papers in clearly labeled files
("Tasks," "To Read," etc.) or color-coded ones (purple = medical, green =
If you're concerned about remembering where you are going to put some notes
you'll need for an upcoming project, note the location in your planner on the
day or month the project is due.
Use your planner. It is invaluable for recording ideas in the
working/developing stage. Instead of jotting down notes on scraps of paper and
never knowing where to find them, you'll have one place to look when you want
to refer back to that million-dollar idea, a clever paragraph for a sales
letter, a new marketing idea, anecdotes or the details of a telephone
Set aside time daily for doing paperwork. Choose an hour when there are few
distractions;if at home, in the early morning before the family gets up or
if at work, before the staff comes in. During this time, use an answering
machine or your voice mail system to screen calls, have your secretary hold
calls or have a co-worker answer your phone (you can return the favor at
Use the desk clock as an important ally. If you're procrastinating about
something, tell yourself you'll work on it for "just 15 minutes." And use the
clock to help you stop early enough so you will have time to put things away
at the end of the day.
5 things you should do Daily in your office
1 Defragment your computer- you'll waste too much time waiting for things to happen if you dont do this Daily!
2 Make sure all notes & addresses are transfered to your day planner
3 Remove manuels & catalogs from desk top & put them in their proper place
4 File as you go- dont wait to put things away
5 Run your virus scan if you do email or downloading
Paper chase continued on the next page