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How to Organize Your Desk in 15 Minutes

Do you have to move papers and clutter to create space to work on your desk? Is your desk covered with uncompleted projects, stacks of unread correspondences, sticky notes containing unfamiliar scribbles of messages taken days ago, inkless pens, pencils with no lead, paper clips scattered about and memos taped to the computer to remind you of deadlines. Does this sound familiar? If it does, you must reclaim your desk and conquer all the desk demons invading your office desk. A cluttered desk is no place to be creative or productive, it only adds to the feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed and distracted.

However in 15 Minutes, you can conquer the desk demons and create a successful surrounding that will get you feeling very productive and motivated. Here are four steps that will get you the perfect office desk in 15 minutes.

Clear Your Desk of Everything

Take everything off your desk and put it on the floor in neat stacks. At this time don't try to justify what you must keep and what needs to be trashed, just take it all off your desk. This will give you the clarity you need to begin and complete this exercise and the opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh. You are transforming from an old habit of a messy desk into a new way of keeping your desk organized.

Designate an Inbox space

Decide if you would like the right or left corner of your desk to be your inbox (I recommend the right corner), however, it's your desk so you must decide. Once you have designated a space for your invoice, put an 8 X 11 inch tray in that space to hold all incoming correspondences. Don't fret, if you don't have a tray, no need to rush out and purchase one, just designate an area and identify it as your inbox space and never allow anything else to take up that particular space. The use of your inbox space is to collect all incoming correspondences: memos, mail, anything that is coming to you and you are responsible for reading (it's comparable to your email inbox). You must check in with your inbox tray daily. Upon reading a correspondence, you must take three actions: take action immediately (if it requires a response), file it or trash it. Your inbox is not a holding space to keep information indefinitely. It serves as an organization tool to hold all incoming information until you can take one of the above actions. You must make the commitment to check in with your inbox daily, sometimes two to three times a day depending upon the amount of incoming information you receive daily.

Create a Tickler File

Get twelve manila folders and label them January – December, then you will need 31 more vanilla folders labeled 1 – 31 for the days in the month and two additional folders labeled for the upcoming years. As I am writing this it is 2008, so you would create a 2008 folder and a 2009 folder. Whichever month that you are currently in, include the days of the month folders (1-31). Whenever you have a planned task, appointment, incoming memo announcing a meeting/ seminar and or project deadline just put the information in the folder according to month and date that you need to get it done. For example, if I need to complete and submit an article to a publication that my target audience reads on December 15, 2008, I would put the contact information, due date and a checklist in the folder for December 15, 2008. On Dec. 15, everything that needs to be done is in my tickler file and I can take action. What if I am planning to attend a conference on May 17, 2009 and just received the itinerary, I would put the itinerary in the 2009 file folder and when the 2009 arrives, the itinerary will be moved to the month of May in the 17th file folder. Tickler files should also be in sync with your daily planner. It is best to put your tickler file system in a file/desk drawer, or even a box. Keep it simple; however, avoid the temptation to put it on your office desk.

Now it's time to file. Peruse through all the papers that you initially cleared off your desk and file them into your tickler file system accordingly. If you find correspondences that are outdated, unimportant or does not need you to respond, throw those excess papers in the trash and clear the clutter. Review your tickler file daily.

Keep a Planner / Calendar on desk

Your desk should have a planner or calendar which shows you the date and a list of all the tasks & activities that need to be completed during that particular day. Use your planner to jot down any quick notes, telephone messages or frequently used telephone numbers, this system will prevent you from writing information on multiple sheets of paper or sticky notes and it will serve as the primary place to store notes and messages. Notes & Messages will be easily retrievable when you are in need to review them. You will no longer have to wonder, "Where did I put it?" and waste time looking for any messages or notes.

Viola! You have created an organized desk (in 15 min.) that is ready for your productivity.

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