How to Declutter your Desk
Are you overwhelmed with paper on your desk? Is it impossible to find anything because it is too much? Do you even know what documents are on your desk and buried under the pile?
Here are a few suggestions for how to declutter your desk!
01 / Begin with one pile. Pick up each piece of paper and sort it into one of 3 categories: act, file, or trash (i.e. recycle). Open any unopened envelopes, recycle the envelope, and sort the document inside.
02 / Move onto the next pile only once the first one has been sorted.
03 / As you uncover empty file folders, paper clips, etc. put them away right away. Keep a paper clip holder and box for empty file folders near you as you are working on clearing the desk.
04 / If there aren’t clear piles on the desk, begin by dividing the desk into four quadrants and work by quadrant.
05 / Be ruthless with getting rid of papers that you don’t need any longer. Ask yourself: can I obtain the document another way if I need it in the future? Or: what’s the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of this?
06 / Don’t get rid of important documents like tax records. These have to be kept for a certain amount of time according to the CRA. Ask your accountant for advice on this.
Your desk is cleared, papers are sorted into categories…now what?
Once you have your desk cleared and papers sorted into the 3 categories, then you’re ready to determine how you are going to deal with these papers on an ongoing basis. Always keep at least two trays on your desk to keep papers sorted: an action tray and a file tray. You may decide you want to keep another tray for incoming documents or papers that need to be sorted – otherwise known as an Inbox. Another option that takes up less room than a tray is a desktop file organizer that holds a number of file folders. Search online for various options and determine what will work for you.
How to Declutter your Desk? Prioritize & Accessorize!
Go through your action pile and prioritize these documents. If there are a lot of action documents, are you able to delegate anything somewhere else? A handy organization tool I like to use is the Pendaflex PileSmart Project Sorter. This keeps your current projects sorted in one folder with multiple tabs. It keeps the clutter on your desk down, but at the same time allows for your current projects to be visible and close at hand.
If you don’t have a filing system set up, now is the time to do that. As you are going through the papers that need to be filed, sort them into categories that make sense to you. Some examples are Bills, Income Tax, Bank Statements, Receipts, Insurance, Contacts. Keep any files that you use frequently close at hand so that it’s easy to file those documents right away. Filing isn’t a fun job so make sure you get a good filing cabinet that opens easily.
You may find business cards as you are sorting through your paper. Decide if you need to keep each card and if so, file it into a business card holder. Better yet, download a business card scanning app. I have been trying out CamCard and am finding it to be quite useful.
The main thing about paper is to have a home for everything. It should either reside in a tray or desktop folder, in a file in the file cabinet or in the recycle bin.
To further tame paper clutter going forward, think about going digital as much as possible. Sign up to receive your bills digitally. Scan important documents and keep them on your computer. If you do go digital, however, you still need to maintain good computer habits. Regular backups and keeping a good digital filing system are very important or you will just move your desk paper clutter to your computer.
Do you have any good tips for decluttering the paper on your desk?
If so, let me know – I’m always interested to hear about what works for other people. If you are having a tough time tackling your desktop clutter, consider hiring a Professional Organizer to help you out. We love helping people feel more in control of their lives, have less stress and be more productive!
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