written by Jean Turner
Your desk needs sorting out again.
You have just spent 15 minutes looking for the car keys which were hiding inside the roll of adhesive tape underneath the plate which supported the opened mail from yesterday.
Your head is thumping from the stress, and you have just snapped at your youngest because he asked you whether you have fixed his car yet. You know - the one with the loose wheel which has since then come off and is now underneath that other pile of stuff next to your printer...
Instead of looking at the mess on your desk and giving up on it before you start, why don't you take control of the situation and make a pro-active change to the way you treat your environment.
It *is* possible, and it is easier than it at first appears.
The secret to desk control is priority, and to effect a long term solution, it requires prioritising a one hour period just once a week for a short period of time so that you are able to re-educate yourself and learn new habits.
Once you are in control, after a few weeks of working at developing good habits, you will probably rarely need the weekly hour. For the in-control person, a one hour blitz 'spring clean' is usually all it takes to maintain orderliness.
What do you do during your hour?
During the hour that you have set aside once a week for the next few weeks, go through the drawers in your desk, sorting out what you can throw away.
Organise your belongings so that each item will from now on have a 'home' where it should return to after use. Creating these homes requires physical organisation - places where items can be compartmentalised and held in place while they are waiting to be used again.
It is at this point where we all imagine the cost of specially made draw-tidies, and we cringe at the thought of spending hard earned cash on such things. After that - many of us simply close the drawer, and walk out of the room, leaving the messy status quo for another day and another stress-filled time.
Organisation does not have to cost you anything if you make use of common, everyday items around you that would normally go in the waste bin or the recycling bucket.
In the drawer, washed out margarine tubs keep little things from spreading. A cutlery drawer organizing tray will hold other things like pens and shears.
An empty coffee jar positioned on the desk will hold your pens. If this is easy to hand, it makes it possible to put the pen away instead of down on the desk after use.
Plastic toast racks designed for large families hold envelopes upright, a small chest of drawers which are deep enough and the right shape will hold your CDs and ink pads.
A pretty bowl which is not too deep will catch the odd paperclip or elastic band that needs a temporary home.
Your keyboard can be stowed underneath a small home made table, the top of which you can exclusively allocate to your sandwich plate and coffee mug, making it easy to maintain and lowering the risk of a coffee spill all over your laptop or into your filing drawer.
Once organised, every item needs to be associated with its new 'home'. In your mind, you now have to return each item to its home immediately after it has been used. By doing so - you will prevent the build up of loose items on the desk, and the reality is that time is saved - even with a simple thing such as a pen returned to the coffee jar and then retrieved again when you want to write with it compared to putting your pen down on the desk when you have finished writing with it, and then having to lift all the paperwork up off your desk when you find the need to write some more.
Small changes in this respect will reap you great rewards - extra time to spend with your children, better relationships with your family members because of the additional time you have, and a much less stressful environment to work in, leading to a much less stressed you.
Maintain a 'Clean Desk Policy' from now on.
A Clean Desk Policy is just what it says - a totally cleared desk where ALL items are removed from its surface at night and placed in drawers or cupboards. This policy is commonly used in companies where documents of delicate nature are locked away at night and the desks are left clear for the cleaning staff to do their jobs effectively.
Its benefits are an uncluttered environment when the person returns to work the next day - leading to proven increase in productivity and staff levels of job environment satisfaction and that of protecting vital assets - company, or in this case, personal data.
Maintain a 'Clean Desk' attitude by imagining that every evening, the Borrowers will visit and take all the items that should not still be on the desk surface. Make a point of dusting your desk every night, you will very soon get into the habit of putting things away as you use them just in order to save yourself time required to clean up so that you can dust each night.
Above all - be strict with yourself. It is incredibly easy to be lazy, and requires effort to be neat and tidy.
It is possible to be in control of your desk. Put away items which you use immediately you finish using them. Immediately. Every time. Without fail. Until it becomes second nature - at which point - you are totally in control.
It's simple. It is very easy, and it is possible.