Time for desk tidy? Are you working on a cluttered, disorganized surface? If so, your workspace can be distracting, confusing, and result in low productivity. One of the best ways to quickly get motivated is to set aside five minutes (no more, no less) to tidy up your desk right now. Pick one area that you can handle in a few minutes. If your office is piled high with extraneous papers and supplies you’ll need to choose one pile to work on for five minutes. Focus on that area only.
If you do this each morning before you start your day (or in the evening just before your day is done), you’ll see that in one week’s time, you’ll have cleared many of your headaches, reduced your clutter, and moved many of your stagnant paper piles into their very next action step.
The 5-Minute Office Desk Tidy
Here are the supplies you’ll need to have successful tidy sessions:
- Sticky note pad
- Four baskets or boxes to build your “Tidy RAFT” – to sail away from clutter
- Location for things to file
- Garbage basket and shredder
- Your to do list/planner or notepaper to record action items
- iTunes, Spotify, Pandora or your favorite upbeat playlist!
Your Sanity Assignment
How To Tidy Your Office in 5 Minutes:
- Be sure to take the time to set up. Gather the supplies listed above.
- Be sure to create your Tidy RAFT – by setting aside and LABELING a separate basket for each:
- R = “Returns”
- A = “Act”
- F = “File”
- T = “Toss”
- Turn on some fast-paced music to get you psyched and in the mood to move around.
- Set a timer or an electronic alarm for five minutes. (We love conditioned responses and competition really builds adrenaline! Beat your own clock and maintain your focus for five minutes and see how much you can accomplish!)
- STAND UP and remain standing. Studies have shown that with increased blood-flow, executive functioning skills improve! So decision making is enhanced for most people while standing. Sorting and categorizing is all about quick decisions. By standing you’ll increase blood flow to your brain and make faster decisions.
- Begin by quickly returning any extraneous supplies and office tools that are on your surfaces but belong in your office. Drop any items that have lost their way and landed in your office temporarily in the “Returns” basket. (You’ll take care of those later).
- Let your fingers do the walking through one pile of paper on your desk. Your ONLY goal during this short period of time is to Macro-Sort the papers quickly into four categories:
- Returns – Place anything in here that has wandered away from its original home and DOES NOT LIVE in your office (or in the area you’re clearing!)
- Act – Place anything in this pile that needs action… Including any paper that needs to be filed but that does NOT YET have a file assigned. Since you have to ‘Create a file’ – those items belong in the ‘Act’ pile.
- File – Place anything that ALREADY has a file – and has a location assigned
- Toss – Place anything that is not needed in this pile. You can toss anything that is old, outdated, garbage. Create a separate pile for junk mail containing addresses and personal information. (For my super informational, really easy to use, low-cost ebook: Time To Toss It – to help you decide how long to keep things – GO here!)
- If you run into an item about which you are unsure, ask yourself: Will I absolutely take the next action necessary with this item? If your answer is NO – It goes in the toss pile.
- When you are done – you should have clearer surfaces and moved the items into their very next action station… ready for you to take action.
- Now you need to decide what needs action! Taking action starts with identifying the very next action for everything in your Act pile. For this step, you’ll need a fresh pad of sticky notes. Pick up each “Act” item one by one and ask the following questions:
- What is the very next action I need to take to push this action forward? Write it down on the post-it pad: “Call Jimmy about the ad.”
- Who will do it? Assign a task owner: Me
- How long will it take? Write down the time estimate: 2 minutes
- When will I do it? Set a deadline and write that on the sticky note too
- Add it to your task list for the date you will do it.
- Place the sticky note on the paper – and place the paper in your inbox, or Act box, or action file for the day it is due.
- Move onto the next action item.
After a quick 5-minute office tidy, you’ll instantly feel more organized and more energized to tackle your day. One hint…. if your office is a disaster zone, you need to work in very small chunks. One of my best tips is to section off one square foot at a time for the 5 minute tidy – to stay on track.
You really can eat an elephant… you just need to stop procrastinating, and then take one bite at a time. (And depending on the size of the elephant, you may be eating awhile…. just sayin’!)
Now that you’ve taken 5-minutes to clear the physical clutter in your office, how do you feel? Is there a way to incorporate this practice into your daily routine so you can chip away at your over-loaded office? Please share your comments about this technique below. What have you learned? Do you have any tips or tricks of your own to add?