Clutter Challenge: The Desk

Hello Readers and Happy Veteran’s Day! Before I get into my post for today, I want to take a moment to honor our military veterans and thank them for their services and sacrifices to our country.  We are truly blessed to have such brave and wonderful men and women protecting us and our country!

And now we can work on today’s topic: cleaning the desk.  For a neat freak like me, a dirty work area will always be a nuisance for me.  Even in my career I hated my desk being cluttered and disorganized.  It makes for a lot of lost time and incomplete tasks.  So, the same holds true in my home.

While my house isn’t always spotless, especially now that our son Sean has started walking and has started exploring more, it is important for me to maintain a clean desk area at all times.  My desk is where I write most of my posts, where I work on my meal planning, and where I work on most of my projects.  So, I often need a clean surface so I can spread out and work on things one by one.

Now, while I understand that most people are not as focused as I am on keeping things neat and tidy, your desk is an important area to keep neat and tidy.  Often, this is where the bills stack up, the letters get set down, and the computer gets buried.  Bill payments can be forgotten and incur late fees.  Letters may go unanswered, which could affect relationships.  And more issues may arise with such a condition for the office.  But it can sometimes be unclear how to keep the desk clean and clear.  So, let’s look at a few ideas and steps to always keep a clear desk.

File. File. File.  I am a big fan of filing my bills away properly.  I discuss this in my post Clutter Challenge: The Files.  I insist on our bills being filed away neatly each month in their correct files.  When the bills come, I immediately check the amount and set our payment to go through on the due date for the amount.  And then I set the bill in my “to-be-filed” spot for our mail.  And then, on the second Friday of the month, I go through our mail and file away the necessary bills while tossing the old ones out.  I always keep the mail in the same spot so I can always find it.  And, when I go through my mail, I immediately sort the mail into three piles: to be filed, to respond to, and to toss.  The “toss” pile is immediately tossed away.  Then the “to be filed” pile gets filed.  And the respond pile gets an immediate response or action before I either file it, toss it, or save it (if it’s a keepsake or something similar).  Every day that the mail comes in I look through it, and I immediately keep all mail in the same spot.  This may sound crazy, but sometimes I will remember something important, such as a community event this month or something similar, and I will refer to the mail for answers.  Even if you choose to toss your mail each day, I highly recommend getting a simple and organized filing system for your house and a mail basket to store your mail every day.

Always do a ten minute tidy.  Every day, spend ten minutes tidying up your desk space at home.  Straighten papers, sort through them, toss and shred what’s no longer needed.  Wipe up spills and cup rings to avoid sticky messes.  Take time to clean out your email from the day and file important emails in appropriate places.  Make sure your computer is up to date on its updates, that programs are running properly, and that your defragmenter and antivirus programs are set to run automatically.  This is a crucial part of every day.  It’ll keep your desk area clean and tidy, and it will help your computer run better if you spend time doing this.  For this, I highly recommend setting up these computer functions through the control panel or the anti virus program and having an egg timer and wipes or cleaning supplies close at hand.  And, don’t forget your trash can and document shredder!  As for the emails, check below on this task.

Get rid of the junk mail.  I mean your email account, of course. I challenge you to set a timer for one hour and get serious about cleaning out your email account.  I’m dead serious about this.  I did this.  I set my timer.  I started on the first twenty emails on the very last page of my emails (over 4,000 emails and 10+ pages).  I first filed messages for one category (like “household bills” or “student loans” or “friends and family”) and when all emails for that categeory were filed I filed the for the next one and the next until I had nothing left but old junk and newsletter emails.  I then decided which ones I wanted (I kept my “EveryDollar” subscription), created a folder for it, and filed them away.  And then I deleted the rest.  And I continued this on the next page.  And the next.  And pretty soon, I had all emails filed, my inbox empty, my spam folder empty, and my trash file empty.  All before the timer went off.  Since then, I simply take care of emails every day to keep my inbox clean and tidy.  I highly recommend keeping on top of them yourself.  It’ll help keep you from feeling bogged down or stressed, and you’ll stop missing important emails or messages if you always go through your email and sort the messages.  If you get too many spam-like ones or you always get daily messages, try an unsubscription service.  I love Unroll.me for this!  It’s a free service in which you enter your email address and it shows you what subscriptions you have for that address.  From there, you can unsubscribe from the newsletters and emails that don’t interest you, and you can set special instructions for the rest of the ones you keep from there.  So, I recommend an unsubscription service for this.

Keep the supplies organized.  You don’t need to label everything.  You don’t have to buy any expensive containers for this.  But think about what supplies you use at your desk.  For me, I use my stapler, my pens, my planner, and my notebooks (my everyday one that fits in my shoulder bag and my composition book with my blog info in it).  I don’t need any fancy equipment to hold this.  Currently, I have my large 3 ring binder that contains my 2017 planner and calendar and my blog notebook (to be consolidated into the binder for 2017) stacked on top of each other.  I have my pens and pencils in a case in the binder (convenient), and my stapler is on the desk top.  I love my X-Acto Upright Stapler, which is similar to this one at Staples.com for $22.00.  It’s great for small spaces because it doesn’t take up much room, and the design makes it much easier to hold and use.  Everything else just doesn’t belong on my desk because it won’t get used.  But, I would highly recommend a document container of some kind (like a desktop organizer tray or a magazine holder) for paper, a stapler, and a utensil container.  I used to use a favorite coffee mug, but it’s your choice.  Other than that, decide what you use every day and keep only that on your desk.  It will always look clean and organized if you don’t leave excess items out (like paper clips, envelopes/mailing supplies, post-its, etc).

Get on a schedule.  Stick to it.  This is a little harder than you think.  But, like I do, you should aim to file documents and clean out files once a month.  You should always keep mail in the same place.  You should do a ten minute tidy every day.  You should clean out your email every day.  Getting onto this schedule and maintaining it every day, every week, every month, and every year will help you greatly in feeling organized and less stressed.  But it takes effort.  I highly recommend adding this to your daily chores and your monthly chores at the very least.  So, figure out how to do that and stick to it.

And that’s it.  By following a few simple rules, you will find yourself less stressed with a less cluttered office.  So let me know how it goes!

Until next time,

-BBM

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