How Do You Keep Your Desk Clutter-free?

How Do You Keep Your Desk Clutter-free?

Leah Moss
May 10, 2010

Organization is not my strong suit, and most days I make Michael Bargo's desk above look like order itself. Usually, I have to move a few things around on my desk just to be able to sit down and write, and it seems I've been searching for an organizational system that works as long as I've been working. So, you orderly people, what's your trick?

For the past few weeks I've been racking the brains of all the organized people in my life to see if there are any strong common themes. The most obvious is that there is no one system of organization. Like so many things in life, what works for you isn't going to cut it for me. However there were a few good points that nearly all of my orderly acquaintances followed in one form or another:

Have a trash can and a basket for recycling right next to the desk. This tip spoke to me. My desk can often be glimpsed through an unruly pile of paper that I'm forever intending to place in our paper recycling. Having a basket just for paper right by desk would certainly help.
A large-ish inbox. Anything that can't be filed or dealt with immediately goes into a basket/box, and then at a set time — for some of my friends this was at the end/beginning of everyday, for others it was once a week — go through the box starting with the item on top. At this time, nothing can go back into the inbox. It either has to be filed or pitched. A few people also had an outbox where time-sensitive items from the inbox were placed and made a priority for the following day.
Keep a stack of file folders and a labeling marker within reach. A few people referred me to this article on LifeClever referencing this point. I often blame my non-filing on not wanting to interrupt my work to go stick something in the file cabinet or look for a blank folder.
Keep the basics and nothing more. You don't need 100 pens and 1,000 pads of sticky notes. Storage for extras can be near by, but not sitting on the desktop.

And now it's your turn. What tricks do you have for keeping your desk clutter-free?

Image: Domino

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