The day begins promisingly, with a neat desk and a hot cup of coffee. However, as the work starts to pile up, you realise that your desk is filling up with files, notes, documents, and an accidental coffee stain. What do you do to get organised?

Sort the papers

Make use of desk drawers or a drawer organising rack to sort your papers. Label each drawer with a clear purpose or name (like a manager’s name, or a recurring task’s name). Also create two important drawers, named ‘To Do’ and ‘Done’. That way, you can quickly identify important or urgent tasks, and file away tasks that have been completed.

Shred the papers

Many offices try to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing paper-free operations. If this is not the case in your office environment, you might find that you have useless papers on your desk from tasks that have been completed or documents that have been scanned. Instead of leaving them on your desk, shred them immediately, or keep a dedicated ‘discard’ box beneath your desk. Remember to pay attention to your organisation’s document retention policy before you start shredding or discarding, as some documents (like invoices and meeting minutes) need to be kept on file for a number of years.

Avoid the papers

Only print out documents when it’s necessary. Also keep in mind that sticky notes or cube notes give your desk an untidy and cluttered appearance very quickly. However, the contents of the notes might be important. Rather send an email to yourself (or make use of Google Keep), so that you have a digital note of sorts. In addition, you will have a digital trail as proof that you addressed the matter.

Peg the papers

A pegboard is an old-fashioned, but time-tested, method of keeping papers off your desk. Telephone lists, style guides, calendars, ASCII codes, passwords, and inspirational photos need to be kept close by, but can easily create a distracting clutter against the walls of your cubicle or desk. Rather attach these items to a dedicated pegboard. You will still have easy access to them, but they won’t be all over the place.

File the papers

If you often work with printed documents that need to be kept after completion, but are not highly confidential, you can file them in a personal folder of sorts. Allocate one large ring binder to yourself for the year. Create specific sections within the file to organise your documents. That way, you can file documents easily, without having to search for an appropriate filing space.

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