STEP ONE: REMOVE CHAOS and GET SERENITY
Don’t waste any time thinking about it, just do it! But, first take a before photo.You won’t believe you ever had this messy of a desk once you are deep into Maintaining Serenity Phase. Believe me, your future self will love looking at it.
Secondly, clear all the stuff on top of your desk, inside it, around it and underneath it. Your final objective is to get it the way you want it to always look! Every home needs a tidy and efficient desk and office space to function efficiently.
Don’t spend time sorting and putting away stuff right now. Your objective is to kick CHAOS out asap! After this most important step, you can slowly and thoughtfully bring the items back in, but only in controlled amounts which I detail in the next step.
STEP TWO: SORT, DECIDE AND STORE
Sort and store the stuff you removed from your desk area/office. In order to do this correctly you have to have some important principles in mind!
First Principle: Set a timer to keep you focused and take breaks when needed.
Second Principle: ask yourself three questions:
1. Do I currently use this item?
2. Does this item belong in this area?
3. Is this item better off someplace else in my home?
(forget the “Does this item give me joy?” question – really? My 3-hole paper punch has never given me joy, has yours?) But, I still need it!
Sort all items into categories:
Keep in desk area
Put in other area
File (don’t spend time actually filing right now – that is a whole other topic! Just
put in a bin or basket for now).
Third Principle: FIND THE BEST HOMES
Now move that bin or basket that you put the “keep” items in back into your office area and start to store those items in their best homes!
In order to decide on an item’s “best home” you are going to need this storage principle. Is this a daily used item, a once-a-week item or a seldom used item? After answering this question, You are now ready to store this item in a choice of three different places. Primary place-this is your desktop and your top desk drawer. Secondary place- this is your nearby drawer or closet or shelf – still near but not on top of desk or in the main drawer. Long-term place – this is where you will put your things you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis – maybe monthly. Maybe in a labeled container in a closet or in a file box. An example would be a bin of colored markers, a stack of empty file folders, a stack of books you intend to read in the future, your calligraphy pens you use infrequently, more that one pair of scissors.
Also, for the primary items, consider making it “one-motion” to get to it. That means you aren’t moving any other items to get to it. You want it very easy to access. Hopefully you get my point. Primary items go on your desk and these will be different for each person. I recommend having your laptop on a stand if at all possible – it will free up desk space and that is a good thing!
When you have the desk the way you want it – take an after photo of it to remind you of all you have accomplished and then celebrate your accomplishment! You may even want to post the before and after photos on social media for added accountability and praise for a job well done. Now rip that “messy” label off yourself and replace it with “Tidy”! You are a new creation! The next step will tell you how to keep that label on!
STEP THREE: MAINTAIN SERENITY
Every single day (ESD) or at the end of your work time or at least at the end of the day if you work at home – Get your desk back to what I call SERENITY state. Put your project that you are currently working on in a labeled folder or bin and slip it either inside your planning notebook or in a nearby drawer or closet. Some say wipe your desk down every day- I say develop that habit later if you want to, but for now, just clear the chaos ESD. Serenity habits are the priority right now – clear-it-off habits now, clean-it-off habits later.You will soon find out that once you develop the serenity habits the clean habits will quickly follow! Try to prevent the desk from becoming a place where clutter collects. It is your work space not a catch all for spare items in your home that you “put here for now”.Writer Audrey Thomas in her article “Seven Ways to Get Your Desk Clean and Keep it That Way”,says to think of the top of your desk as “PRIME REAL ESTATE”, keeping in mind that every item on your desktop, needs to deserve that space. I like that!
So, it now becomes you task to keep this area CHAOS FREE. You may even want to post a “CHAOS FREE ZONE “ sign to remind you and other people in your household! I have two signs – one on my top paper tray and one inside my top desk drawer. This get-serenity-back step should take you five minutes at the most depending on how busy you have been at your desk. And every single day (ESD) you do this will be every single tomorrow(EST) your future self will thank you. The feeling you get walking into a tidy office with a tidy, cleared off desk is worth the effort of this last step. Finally, enjoy SERENITY and never let her go!