Fighting for a clear desk!

Since lockdown started around a year and half ago, my desk has undergone several upgrades and transformations!

But one thing that keeps happening, no matter how many new toys and gadgets I get for my work space, be it plastic plants, screen stands, candles or drawers…the desk inevitably gets messy.

Ideally, I would start work each day to a clear and clean desk. But unfortunately, I often fall short.

Why does it get messy?

  1. Life happens
  2. Work get’s unfinished and I don’t want to “lose my place”
  3. I think I need a lot of references at hand at the same time
  4. I think I need to “reduce friction” for when I’m next working and so need all the books and tools quickly available.
  5. I need to finish work early, quickly and don’t make time to sort it out

How can I combat against messiness?

  1. Having a ‘end of work routine’. What if I committed to spending the last 5-15 minutes of each work day: winding down? Tidying up and when tidied, writing out a simple to-do list for tomorrows tasks. If that means working 5 more minutes at the end of the day, so be it, and if you want to be fair on yourself start 5 minutes later the next day. The benefits of a tidy desk far outweigh 5 minutes.
  2. Having one ‘To Do pile’. The problem with having lots of To Do piles on every side of me is that mentally it makes it seems like I’m surrounded and outnumbered by work. Instead I would benefit from having all my work in one place and dealing with it piece at a time.
  3. The ‘end of work’ routine also helps you transition from work life to home life. Which is a transition made all the more important and difficult now that we’re working from home.
  4. Only have on your desk what you definitely need. Be brutal. I remember realising one day, in one of my more philosophical moods, that human beings really don’t cope well with excess. When we have more than we need, we usually become more wasteful rather than more efficient. There is definitely the reality of diminishing returns with tools and toys on our desk.
  5. The one rule: one pen, one note pad, one book and one coffee cup at a time. I might even go so far as to say, one device! We don’t need our phone on our desk if we have a computer there (let alone a laptop/tablet/iPad!). They will only distract us! Why not put the phone on silent in a drawer and check it once an hour?

I hope this helps any other people with messy-desk-itis out there!

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