Desk Clean-up: procrastination or organization?

I have a form of procrastination that’s proven useful for many years: desk cleaning and organizing. I have cleaned my desk off, cleaned co-workers’ desks off and restocked countless refrigerators that were not really low on drinks.

Squirreling away papers, filing old news clips and articles I couldn’t bear to toss or adding an extra six-pack of Coke because I wanted to be sure there were cold ones for later in the day. Selfishly, I have always viewed these tasks as means to get a day going that might be stuck in neutral. A quick, low hanging accomplishment I could check off my to-do list.

Now that my desk is my office, I view things differently. It’s no longer a luxury. I have to keep my projects straight and organized. I can’t spend time looking for things on my work desk or my computer desktop. Even worse, I can’t afford to lose anything.

In dissecting an early spring issue of Oprah magazine, I came across an article that suggested these tips for getting organized.

  • Your desk should be like a driver’s seat. Have the important things within an arm’s reach. (Mr. Organizational Guru would no doubt tsk tsk my Tick action figures.)
  • Think about your desk in terms of tasks. What do you actually do at your desk? (I keep all of my projects moving so that means the paper-doll Mini Cooper stays.)
  • Don’t use enclosure as a crutch. Hidden or closed storage encourages disorganization. (Now that my desk is no longer a Tick-protected hub of justice, I am going to need help. Ahhh, there’s that Wookie Pez dispenser.)

Oprah’s organizational guru says to set aside ten minutes at the end of the day to clean your desk and get ready for tomorrow. He says to think of it like exercise. It might hurt a little at first but it’ll pay off. And after a few weeks, it’ll be a good habit.

So, how will I apply this to my workday?

Rather than cleaning and filing during the day, I should use that time to blog. I think that’s a good place to start. And maybe I’ll finally ditch the Rolodex, too.

What are your organizational secrets?