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The time has come to address the mess on my desk

Feb. 18, 2014 — My desk is a mess. If I actually worked in an office building perhaps it would be clutter free, but as a resident editor for Feather Publishing I have an in-home office.

Mainly the problem is the notes I take for article writing. They seem to form piles on all the available surfaces of the desk. But they are not the only source of the problem. Therefore I decided to make desk clutter the topic for My Turn. My hope was to clear my desk and help others who struggle with the same problem.

I have found the Internet a good source of information on such non-technical topics. Its benefit is that you can quickly cull tips, pinpointing those strategies that will most likely work for your particular case.

So getting back to those notes piled on my desk … a website with short articles written by Sue Rasmussen under a general heading of “Making Room for What Really Matters” had a good tip, it read: “Do complete work. It’s so easy to get in the habit of starting things and leaving them halfway done.”

My conclusion was an article is not finished until I file the notes. Uh-oh, the notes from the last two articles I finished are pushed up against my left elbow as I write this piece.

Another tip was to keep your desk clear except for those projects on which you are currently working. A quick glance at my desk revealed a series of projects — what I was currently working on for the newspaper and what I needed to work on next and after that … Also other items on my “to do” list filled desk space. These included boxes of cards for a few notes I needed to write; ideas I had jotted for a letter of recommendation that was on my agenda; unopened mail; and an application for membership in the Westwood Chamber of Commerce.

Apparently clutter contributes to wasted time. I read that it is estimated 20 percent of your time is taken simply looking for information. While that seems high, I do know pages of notes on one topic can easily be tucked in the wrong pile when too many papers are allowed to accumulate on your desk. On occasion I have frantically searched for an important page of research.

     Another contributing factor to desk clutter is saving too much. According to Monica Ricci, owner of Catalyst Organizing Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia 80 percent of paper saved is never needed. She added every office should have a regular paper maintenance system. Also she said to make your wastebasket and paper shredder your friends.

 I will need to work on the purging of papers from the office for I do file a lot of information. Periodically, however, I go through my files to toss things that are outdated or I no longer need.

At the beginning of the year I was going to try to go paperless … keeping all my scheduling information and lists of projects on my tablet but I am still tracking on a paper calendar and keeping lists in a binder. That’s definitely on my “to do” list.

As my deadline approached I returned to the column to finish up. I am pleased to let you know my notes are filed. Also I have implemented a suggestion I found about creating an inbox to capture all the items that need to be reviewed before they are filed or tossed.

My desk is no longer a mess.


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