How To Keep Your Desk Clean (Without Using A Shovel)

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Take a look around you. Chances are, you’re sitting at your desk, or whatever desk-substitute you have. And chances are, it’s a mess.

What’s it going to take to free you from the mess?
A better filing system?
A bigger trash can?
A shovel?

Oh, I know you’re a clean person, don’t get me wrong – but your desk is most likely the landing place for every miscellaneous business-related piece of paper, envelopes, sticky notes, and notebook you have, not to mention your computer, phone, your keyboard and mouse, plus all the incidentals – pens, tape, paper clips, a glass of water, pictures, paper trays, etc.

Desk strategy?

Oh yes, grasshopper. The reason your desk looks like a car wreck some days is because you don’t have a desk strategy

For example, if you are an artist, then your desk strategy could require it to be a space for creativity and expression. And then, a fresh supply of paper, pens, pencils, paint, etc. could be a natural sight on your desktop.

And, if you are a webdesigner, your strategy might include gearing everything for the computer-intensive work you do. So, having your graphics tablet, client folders, and computer gear first and foremost would make perfect sense.

But what if you do a wide range of things?

If you’re running your own business, then the odds are better than ice melting that you’ve got multiple desk strategies to handle the various facets of your business.

So, how to manage them all?

Easy. Have a comprehensive desk strategy.

Simple. As in, keep it simple. Here are the three keys to doing that:

Keep it clean. One of the beautiful things about keeping a space “zen-like” isn’t just that you have to buy less stuff – it’s that the space is always ready for whatever you have to do.

If you have to move what’s there to make room for what’s coming, that’s a step that just slows you down, and adds to your daily stress quota.

Keep it handy – or not. If you use your label-maker often, why do you keep it in a box in the closet? And if you reach for a piece of tape once a week, why keep the tape dispenser on your desk?

The rule to remember is, anything you use often, keep it handy. The less you use it, the further away it can, and should, be.

Keep it together. Chances are, for each of your tasks, there are certain materials that you always use. For example, in addition to your computer, depending on the project, you may use a number of items:

Finances: calculator, bank statements, bills, checkbook, stamps
Writing articles: ideas/clippings, blank paper, favorite pens, templates, etc.
Research: books, notepads, file folders, etc.

If you have to search high and low for every item you use for certain tasks, you’ll be less eager to pull it all out and put it all away each time. And that internal resistance will lead to procrastination, avoidance, and quite often, a bigger mess. 

By keeping the items together that go together, you’re making it that much easier on yourself to work efficiently and productively.

It pays to think out of the box…

Who said you can’t have two tape dispensers? Sometimes having multiples of an item allows you to keep all project-related essentials together, which can save you oodles of time and mental stress.

The whole idea is to put some awareness into the way you use your most valuable piece of real estate, i.e. your desk, to save you your most valuable commodity, i.e. your time.

Not to mention, a sore back (from all the shoveling, that is).


About the Author
Are you struggling to get done all you need to get done? You have a message you want to bring to the world; don’t let it get buried under mounds of unfinished work. Visit, and get a free ebook that will help you silence the overwhelm.

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