When I decided to write this random productivity article, I pulled out Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (aff) and opened it up. I was sitting at my desk at the time, ignoring the foot-high pile on my in basket and the piles of stuff on and around my desk. Wouldn’t you know, it came up with the article about clearing your desk as a step toward collecting. So I will go through what I have done to clean up my desk.
A clean desk is essential to my productivity. Without clean surfaces, my mind is constantly jumping between all the visual reminders of things I need to do.
Cleaning My Desk
Putting Everything Into “In”
David Allen says that everything must be put into the in box to be processed. The only exceptions are supplies, reference material, decorations and equipment. In order for it to remain in place, it must have no action associated with it. For example, a stack of sticky notes would have no action associated with them unless you needed to reorder them or if you had five pads of them on your desk.
Round One: Cleaning the Surface
The first thing I did was put everything on the desktop that didn’t belong into my inbox. DA says that you can exclude supplies and reference material, but I knew that didn’t belong on the desk. So into the in box it went. I did have to prop up the inbox by the time I was finished with this step, but here is the picture of the starting phase.
Round Two: Clearing the Inbox
Since the inbox was threatening to landslide, I took an hour and put things away. This consisted of making folders for reference material, recycling/shredding items, and simply putting thing away in other parts of the house. I did get involved in a mini-yak-shaving session as I cleaned out the bookshelf to the side of my desk, consolidating class notes and filing reference material in my archives.
Round Three: Decoration
About halfway through clearing the in box, some things had migrated back onto the desktop. I need a break, so I took a look at the decorations. I have a bulletin board above my desk that I use for inspiration. I realized it had gotten crowded, so I removed most of the items. On my desk itself, the decorations consist of my clock, my fountain and my lucky cat.
Round Three: Supplies
Next I tackled my supplies. I keep pens on my desk, and they needed to be weeded out. The printer stand next to the desk holds the rest of the supplies I use regularly. Less used supplies and the stock are kept away from my working area. A drawer full of charging and sync cables were moved to a container in the supply area (and most importantly, labeled!)
Round Four: Project Files
My project files have gotten way out of hand. I collect random bits of paper and stuff them into one folder, only to discover them again months later. I needed to get my project material out from my OIB and into my filing cabinet so I wouldn’t lose them. I also needed to purge the project material from useless or out-of-date information.
Round Five: Reference Material
I have one shelf next to the printer where I keep reference information. Dictionary, quotes, thesaurus, programming texts are stored here. I cleared out several unused volumes from here.
Round Six: Equipment
I purged equipment a few years ago, getting rid of my desk phone. All the equipment on my desk is used at least weekly, most daily. It stands
After several hours of work, my desk area is in much better shape. Here are the results: