What does your desk look like? You can see mine – this morning’s version on my Facebook page – and you may as well “LIKE” the page while you are there. Are you surprised to see the piles on my desk? I admit it, I’m a piler. However, each pile has a purpose, and that is what keeps me from getting overwhelmed.
Often the reason people call me for help in the first place is that they are overwhelmed by the actual physical pieces of paper. To deal with it they usually scoop it into a bag and hide it in a closet when people come over. At a certain point the closets fill up and then it takes over.
There are some really easy things you can do to keep the paper from taking over. For a variety of reasons, mainly the thought that you don’t have the time, you will resist even these simple ideas. Not only are they easy, they are really fast. So, I urge you to try them anyway.
Chances are you will be saying to yourself, “I don’t know where to start.” Good thing I do. Are you ready? Pick one horizontal spot you would like to work at and pick that as your starting point. It could be the dining room table, the kitchen counter, your craft table or your actual desk.
The number one easiest way to not get overwhelmed by your paper is to first, stack it neatly. Just do the papers on the spot you picked to start. Pick some up and tap the end against the desk a few times to get it square and then set it down. Add another small stack at a time until you have all the papers from this spot in a neat pile.
Now you want to create 3 places for the most common “in the way papers” to live.
Trash. By far, the most space and energy zapping kind of paper I find is actual trash. Make sure you have a handy and large trash receptacle in your work space. You can also set up a recycle bin and a shredder but it’s all just trash. Now there is a place to put all the marketing crap you have received in person and in the mail, along with all envelopes the mail came in to start with.
Extra supplies. Set up an to put all the duplicate supplies that you find in your piles. Most of it will be note pads, sticky notes, single sheets of blank paper and other paper goods. Gather these together and keep them in a central area that you can “shop” from when you really need them to accomplish something. Until then they are just in the way of your work.
Regular stuff. This is where you assign a place for your regularly processed items to live. Usually, I recommend 4 separate systems for processing paper, each with a corresponding area for the associated papers to reside. I actually just visually divide the desk surface into 6 sections and assign a process to each section. One of the sections will be for incoming, the stuff that needs to be processed, that’s where the pile you just made goes. The last one will be for clear space.
The 4 other areas will be:
- Bills and correspondence
- Projects and ideas
Now, go through that pile and put each of the pieces into the appropriate spot. Neaten each stack and then go about your day. I’ll give you the next steps next week. Although, if all you do from now on is process your papers into those areas and then work from that area and weed out the outdated stuff every once in a while, you will at least know where your current stuff is and be able to find it when you need it. Super easy!
Let me know how it works for you.