We’ve all heard of the mob mentality. It is based on the premise that chaos is contagious. Well, clutter can be contagious too! Not in the sense that you will infect your co-workers, but in the sense that accumulating a little bit of clutter puts you on the slippery slope towards total disorganization.
When taking a long trip away from home you would request that the post office hold your mail. On a daily basis, you are the post office. Put a system in place to prevent papers and emails from piling up.
Paper is the hardest thing to fight in the battle against clutter. The key is to never start a pile. Once a small pile develops, you may feel organized because all the paper is in once place. Unfortunately, a pile quickly turns into a stack and pretty soon, you can’t remember what your plan was for all those papers. There are two things you can do to control the influx of paper.
1) Use paper only when you really have to. Consider making the switch from a paper notebook to a digital tablet, and only print in the rare case that saving a digital file is not an option.
2) Use your file cabinet for filing instead of for general storage space. A set of hanging, color-coded file folders can make filing paperwork both fast and easy.
As long as you have a designated place for everything it will only take you a few seconds to put it away, because you won’t have to spend time thinking about where it should go. To help with finding things later, create an organization system that will allow you to keep all of your files as small as possible. For instance, organizing by project will create more detailed files than organizing by alphabet.
The same basic principles that can help you avoid paper clutter will work for email clutter too. Creating filters in Outlook or Gmail will direct emails to a folder you designate.
1) Avoid the urge to print out email. If you feel you need a second copy, forward the message to your personal email or save it as a word document.
2) Take time to set up new folders as you feel they are needed. This is less overwhelming than trying to account for every message at once.
For more tips on de-cluttering your desk, check out the video above and these resources: