This is the sight that greeted me when I walked into work this morning.
Just as I left it on Friday afternoon.
Two projects in progress scattered around, a letter I was supposed to have started last week, left over papers from something I finished a couple of weeks ago.
It’s really a bit of a mess (you don’t say). It’s actually worse than in the picture because the mess extends on both sides to the edges of the desk (and the drawer unit on the left hand side). The only thing that’s constraining the mess on the right hand side is the partition.
A long time ago, in another job in another town, I participated in a program called the Personal Efficiency Program. (I know what you’re thinking . . . ) Some of that program has stuck in my mind, and one of its principles was that you only have on your desk whatever you’re working on at the time. You keep things you reference regularly in easy reach and the rest of the stuff should be out of the way, off your desk.
The idea always sounded good to me, but I’ve never managed to stick to doing it. I tend just to leave things where they are because chances are I’ll need them in the next day or so and if I put them away I might forget about them.
The PEP has lots of other tools so that you don’t forget things that aren’t immediately in front of you, but that’s all about time management.
I don’t have the luxury of a lot of off the desk storage, which is a bit of a limiting factor, but I do have those handy desktop step file holders so I can at least keep things in manilla folders, labelled and still visible. But even so, I still have trouble storing things in them. It’s just easier to dump them on the desk.
So the first thing I did this morning when I got in to work (after getting my coffee), was to put everything back into its folder, put the folders into the desk file and throw out all the stuff I didn’t need any more.
It felt good and I had a productive day.
Unfortunately by the end of the day, my desk looked similar to the way it looked this morning – although the things I put away that I hadn’t used today were still in their handy storage spot, so there wasn’t quite as much mess.
But it got me thinking that if I have a commitment at home to tidy my kitchen surfaces at the end of the day, so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed at the start of each day, maybe I should try the same thing at work.
It’s worth considering.