Unclutter your desk and reduce your stress

Published 7:26 pm Saturday, March 5, 2011

“I know it’s on my desk somewhere!” If this statement sounds familiar then it’s time you got busy and clean off your desk. A recent report found that Americans waste as much as one hour per week looking for misplaced files, papers, etc. Also, not knowing where things are lead to undue stress.

Today is the perfect day to resolve to get your desktop (office) clutter under control. Before you begin you will need a couple of boxes, some trash bags and a magic marker. Label the boxes “Immediate” (as in immediate attention required), “Not Sure,” “Read,” “File,” “Recycle” and “Shred.” Now you’re ready to attack your desk.

Sweep clean: The first order of business is to get everything off the top of the desk that doesn’t have anything to do with your desk’s basic purpose. Coffee cups, food items, paper napkins and the like should go in the sink or in the trash. Remove framed pictures and other personal mementos, as well as pencil holders, tape dispensers, staplers and other pieces of equipment littering your desk. Set them aside for later evaluation.

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Set aside: Magazines, journals, newspapers, periodicals and catalogs take up valuable space on your desktop. Move them to the “Read” box and deal with them during a separate organizing session or put them in the “Recycle” box.

Sort: As you remove the rest of the items from the top of your desk, deposit them in the appropriate box or trash bag.

Shred: If you have a shredder, use it as you sort to discard papers that contain personal information or anything valuable to an identity thief. If you don’t own a shredder, put them in the “Shred” box and make it a priority to have them thoroughly destroyed.

Review: Go back to the “Not Sure” box. Now that you’ve gone through everything on your desk, you should have a better handle on priorities. Re-evaluate what’s in this box so when you’re done, the box is empty.

File: Everything in the “File” box should be put in labeled folders and stored in a file drawer.

Clean: Make sure the top of the desk is thoroughly clean before you put anything back on it. Since there are probably coffee stains and food stains lurking amidst the dust, use an all-purpose cleaner with a disinfectant.

Organize: The “Immediate” box should contain items you’re currently working on. Think about the best way to have them handy on the top of your desk. You may need to invest in a desktop storage tower or a tabletop file for easy access.

Evaluate: Take a look at the personal items. Do you really need all those photos and mementos cluttering the top of your desk? Then take a look at the equipment. Is it just a habit to keep the tape dispenser on your desk or do you really use it every day? Would it be better to keep some of these items handy in a drawer?

Reform: Set aside a few minutes at the end of each day to tidy up your desk.

Source: The Nebline at www.lancaster.unl.edu