I am your desk. I’m willing to hold most anything you use on a daily basis, such as a stapler, roll of tape, or pen, on my desktop. However, please remove anything unnecessary. I once stored an economy size jar of glitter on the edge of my top for five years while working for a computer consultant who had no possible need for art supplies! It was a relief to finally spill the jar’s unused contents onto the senior VP’s new black suit when he bumped into me rather awkwardly one day.
Inside, I’ll happily retain items you use at least weekly, but don’t start storing supplies there. Those belong farther away from me, in file cabinets or supply lockers. Maintain the optimal number of items on and inside my drawers so you work efficiently every day without cluttering up the works. Place in front of you what you need and not much more!
I’m flexible about how you choose to arrange my surface and drawers. I know that each person’s needs are unique, and I have enjoyed working with a variety of professionals. However, people often take advantage of me as a place for decoration rather than organization. Purely ornamental objects such as kitschy collector’s trolls, sports fan paraphernalia, holiday crafts and other extraneous items tend to distract both you and me.
The fewer things I have upon me, the greater the sense of control you have over your immediate environment. If you clear out unnecessary items, we can start enjoying a new, more efficient relationship. Here is an axiom you can count on: All other things equal, if you have one project in front of you and the rest of your desk is clear, you’re bound to have more energy, focus and direction. If many distractions compete for your attention — including piles of reports, memos and faxes — goodness, how can you maintain your focus and energy on the task at hand?
Near me, but please, not on me, go the loving and familiar items, such as large pictures in frames, plants and personal items that you find motivating. I like to feel at home in the office, just like you, but I don’t want my comfort to interfere with our productivity. If any item — from full-spectrum lights to ocean-wave music — supports your productivity, efficiency and creativity, install it near me.
Hereafter, manage me as if I’m one of the most important elements to staying in control and maintaining productivity, because I am.
What tips can you share for keeping your desk — and your mind — free of clutter and on task? Please share them in the comment section below.