You’re super busy at work, so you set the mail, a fax you just got, and several important documents off to the side on your desk until you have time to get to them. Next thing you know, your desk is covered in overwhelmingly large stacks of paper and you’ve created even more work for yourself. I think a lot of us have been there.
The problem with that method is that not only does the increasing clutter stress you out and make things hard to find, but it also makes it easy for things to fall through the cracks – the fax you were supposed to respond to within a week gets lost and forgotten at the bottom of a stack.
Here are some tips for keeping that scenario from happening:
- Consider going (mostly) paperless. Keep as much as you can on your computer, whether that’s personnel files, paperwork, meeting agendas, or resources from training programs. If you don’t have a physical copy of it, you don’t have to figure out where to put it. And you can always print it out if you end up needing the paper version for something.
- Purge your files. I know it’s tedious and time-consuming, but if you keep paper files, set aside some time once a week or once a month and go through them. Make sure you’ve gotten rid of anything you don’t need anymore, and if you have any loose papers, make sure they’ve been filed in the right spot.
- Keep a to-do list. I use Trello. Purple Ink founder JoDee uses her Outlook calendar. You may even keep a notebook that you hand-write tasks in. However you want to do it, making a list ensures that you’ll remember what needs to get done.
- Have a place for everything. Use organizers or files to keep track of everything coming in. When you know that things you haven’t looked at yet are in the tray on your desk, your mail’s in the mail organizer on the bookshelf, and documents you need to file are in the hanging file in your desk drawer, it’s easier to find things you need.
If all those fail, you might need some extra help. Consider talking to your boss about the possibility of taking on an assistant. In all likelihood, though, if you get these processes in place, you’ll be a lot less stressed – and you’ll be able to see your desk!