Productivity Challenge: My Desk is a Dumping Ground!

Last week, I asked professionals to share their Organizing Challenges.  The first response was:

“My desk!   Working from home, I’m so busy keeping the rest of the house organized, everything gets dumped on my desk! (thanks MG!)”

Has this happened to you?  You’re ready to get down to business, but your motivation and energy drain away as you face a desk cluttered with

  • Mail
  • School papers
  • Shoes / socks / clothing / dry cleaning
  • Legos (maybe that’s just me)
  • Receipts
  • Other people’s keys, wallet, phone
  • Office supplies or craft supplies
  • the list could go on and on …
Whether you work from home or in a more traditional office setting, trying to work at a cluttered desk can be a struggle.  Sometimes other people drop the stuff, and sometimes we ourselves do the cluttering.  Sound familiar?! Here’s what to do!
  1. When you sit down to work, spend the first 10 minutes of activity putting the dumped stuff AWAY, and the last 10 minutes putting your own stuff AWAY.  Most of us work better in uncluttered space, so that is a great place to start!   If you can do this every day, the piles will be progressively smaller, and you won’t need 10 minutes anymore!  Dedicate that small block of time at the start and the finish – seriously, set a timer if that helps!
  2. Make sure important things have a home.  For example, everyone needs a special place to put their cell phone, keys and wallet.  Establish a home for these important items NOT on your desk top.  Near it, perhaps, but not on it!
  3. Carve out “My Space” and “Public Space”, if you can.  For example, I recently rearranged my work space, and added shelves. I’ve moved the items that other people need to the shelves next to my work space instead of on the shelf over my work space.  In theory, this will cut down on interruptions and also encourage others to put things away!
  4. Establish containers for regular offenders, to direct stuff to other places:  An In-box for papers coming in; trash / recycling / shredding bins close at hand for papers going out; an errand bag for mail to mail or library books to return, items to drop off to other people, items to be returned to the store, etc.
  5. Act on your action items: In a client’s home office last week, most of the desk top was occupied by items that required action or an errand.  For goodness sake, ACT on your action items!  Invest an hour or two to take the actions or run the errands that will clear away those piles, then revel in the uncluttered space.
  6. Do you drop the stuff, or do other people?  If other people are the problem, set the example: Respect your own boundaries!  Clean off your desk and your own clutter, so the offending items are very noticeable when someone else drops them on your work space!

Keep you work space as sacred space!  Give it the respect it deserves, and expect others to do the same!

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