Summary: A cluttered desk is more than an eyesore. It wastes your time. Here are 5 ways to get your desk uncluttered and keep it cleaned off

BY JANET ATTARD

Do you feel like you’re buried under a mound of paper by the end of the day? If so, join the crowd. According to the Smead Corporation, which manufactures filing systems and records management products , the average office in the US spits out more than 45 paper missives each day – adding up to a whopping 1300 sheets of paper each month.

Where does it all go? If you’re eyeing your office with dismay, there’s a good chance that where that paper is “going” now is on top of your desk. And in the hutch over your desk.. and next to the printer…And, Oh no! The cat just jumped up on your filing cabinet and knocked a big pile of papers onto the floor. What can you do to put an end to the clutter when paper seems to clone itself when you’re not looking? Here are several suggestions:

Start with a plan

 Sort through and categorise the papers on your desk. Consider which you’ll need close at hand, which you need to save only for archival value and what you can read and toss. Give each of those categories of paper a “home.” Make a list of your categories if necessary so you remember whether proposal samples get filed under “Samples” or under “Proposals”. Store that list on your computer – and resist the temptation to print it out!

Start with the filling cabinet, not the desk

The rationale for that is simple. If you don’t have an orderly system for filing papers – and room in your filing cabinet to put those files – you’ll never get your desk cleaned. Toss out old files and review your overall system. Set up your filing system so files you need regularly are near at hand. Consider colour-coding to group similar files together and make them easily identifiable. Move files you don’t need often to an out-of-the way location.

Divide and Conquer 

Don’t try to clean up the entire office in one day. The secret to getting your office organised and keeping it organised is to break the process down into steps and tackle one step at a time.

File Regularly 

Don’t let things sit around for days. Get in the habit of putting papers away as soon as you are done with them. Use the last 15 minutes of your workday to tidy up your desk and get it ready for the following morning.

Purchase Space-Making Products

There are a slew of space-making products available now that can help you organise your desk for efficiency. Among them are handsome wooden trays with partitions for holding pens, cell phone, palm pilot and other paraphernalia that accumulates on your desk; rolling file cabinets that fit under your desk and multitiered in-baskets. And don’t forget the best space-maker of all: the wastebasket. Keep that close at hand and use it frequently.

About the author: Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.

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