So, I parted with some of the things I had been hoarding - the kids are always asking for paper and will use it more than I was obviously - and I went through a bunch of papers, tossed some, filed some, took care of others, and found a place to store the things I really do plan to use eventually (a few notebooks and folders, stickers for my students, etc.). And while I was sorting things out, I came across a fun ditto for the kids, which explained that "One day in January is called Clean Off Your Desk Day..." Of course, I needed more information.
Apparently, the creator of Chase's Annual Events had a horribly cluttered desk, and his daughter, with whom he shared an office, requested that he clean it off at least once a year and added it to his calendar. Thus the tradition was born! This year it falls on Monday the 12th, but obviously I've started early.
So here's some quick tips from the experts:
- Only keep things on your desk that you use everyday! Stapler, scissor, paper clips... If you don't use them every day, find some place off the top of your desk to keep them. Even if you do use them everyday, perhaps the top drawer, front & center, would be a good place to store them.
- Organize things in a manner that make sense. If you're right-handed, you'll probably want to keep your pen cup on the right, and your phone on the left, since you might need to write while on that call. But if you're like me, maybe you turn to the left when you're going to write, and keeping the pencil cup on the left makes more sense. No matter how you organize your things, make sure you leave the middle clear. That's your workspace!
- Keep your similar items organized together. For a crafter like me, that means all my scissors are together, all my punches, all my paints, all my papers... erm... mebbe not all my papers, but in a perfect world... In your world, maybe it's your phone, message pad, and rolodex all kept side by side.
- Use an inbox only as a brief holding station. Make sure you go through it at least once a week, if not daily, and empty it out. You can use a separate box for things that need to be filed, but make sure you keep on top of that as well or you won't be able to find what you need when you need it. You may also want a third box for out-going papers, and when you need a break wander them off to where they go: recipes to the kitchen, magazine to the living room, paperwork to another department...
- Here's one I disagree with: Remove distractions. They say to move pictures, little toys & knick knacks, and candy off your desk to minimize distraction. I suppose this may be true in an office environment, but at home? I prefer to have my desk area filled with the things I love and that foster a sense of creative play. I have bubbles, I have dolls, I have matchbox cars, I have pictures of my friends and family, I have a Magic 8-Ball for making those difficult decisions... But the experts suggest that photos should be placed to one side where others can see them, and where you can also if your not working, less distracting. Little toys lead to you playing and not working, which results in less productivity. Candy invites others to interrupt you, and invites you to snack all day too - at least in my case! So use your own judgment. I prefer to have the candy as far away from me as possible, but keep the other distractions around. Maybe in your workplace that wouldn't be such a good idea...
- If things have gotten really bad, it may be time to do the old Clean Sweep. Grab three boxes & a garbage bag and start on the top. Label your boxes and start sorting: Important or Urgent, for those items that need you to take care of ASAP; Can Wait, for those things that just need filing, or other attention, but aren't so urgent in nature; and I Dunno, for the things you just aren't sure of. I use a big question mark. Of course, throw the garbage in the bag. When you're done, take care of those urgent things, then go back through the Questionable box and sort it out again. Lastly, take care of the less urgent box.