Declutter Tips

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Declutter Your Desktop

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Decluttering’ has become the new buzzword recently but it is usually talked about in the domestic sense. It is also important for an efficient office to be clutter free. Is your desk hiding beneath your paperwork? Do you have a pile of business cards are propping up your monitor? Are your invoices mixed in with your receipts? Are you wasting time because you can’t find that all important piece of paper when you need it?

Sound familiar... it is relatively quick and easy to declutter your desk space or indeed your whole office if necessary.

Firstly set aside some time, a couple of hours if things are really bad, preferably a time when you will be bright and fresh – so if you are a morning person get onto this task as soon as you arrive at the office. You need to ensure that you will have no distractions and this means no calls, visits or emails. See this time as an investment in your business, if the working environment is clutter free it will help you focus when you are at your desk. You know what they say ‘a clear desk means a clear mind.’

Where to start? Now this is the hardest part. Set up a shredder nearby or a bin for shredding if you have one. A black bin bag or recycling bin will also be necessary for rubbish and of course you need some space for the ‘to keep/file’ pile. Whether you choose to file as you go along is totally up to you and may depend on the state of your desk. If you have a business card holder then put all of the business cards in it, if you don’t have one but have a pile of cards then buy a special card holder and file them immediately. You may decide to tackle the ‘to keep’ pile after you’ve finished sorting the desk, just make sure you do it straight away.

A great idea if you have a scanner is to scan all the paperwork you need to keep and then pack the originals away for archiving or you could add them to your rubbish pile if you don’t need to retain original documents. Setting up an electronic filing system is very simple and you will also be able to back it up or you could burn it to CD. You will be happy in the knowledge you can retrieve the information quickly but you are also cutting down on the amount of paper stored in your office.

Okay now that you have three piles it should be easy to make some real progress – rubbish (hopefully you are recycling paper), shredding and important paperwork to keep. Don’t be afraid to throw things away, if you haven’t used something for a few months then the likelihood is that it isn’t essential for your day to day work. As you start to progress you will notice you gain momentum. This is great news and why no interruptions are so important. Now look at your lovely clear desk and smile, isn’t it great to be able to see it again? The challenge is keeping it clutter free, implement a daily declutter at the end of each day and you’ll be amazed how easy it is.

Samantha Cannell is the Director of Versatile Assistant, a Virtual Assistant and Freelance PA business providing PA support to busy professionals particularly those working in the financial services industry. To find out how a virtual assistant can help you transform your business visit

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