Clearing the Cluttered Desk
and Keep it Cleared!

5 Steps to Clearing Your Cluttered Desk
Keeping a Clear, Calm Workspace

You'll take first 4 of these 5 Steps to Clearing the Cluttered Desk in your home office or workspace.....and Keep it Cleared only once: well...... maybe once a quarter.  This is an amazing way to reduce stress and overwhelm!  Especially if you are a Multi-Passionista and have a bazillion things going on at once!

When you are first starting out, you'll find that sometimes steps 1, 2, and even 3 that have an interchangeable sequence. You figure out what works best for you.

  1. Gather the ‘stuff’ and think, “ Does this really need to be done now? At all? Ever?  If not, toss it!"
  2. Clear the clutter off your desk: Put all the projects and ‘stuff’ in a see through box instead of on top of your desk.
  3. Make your workspace feel good to you
  4. Schedule 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week ON YOUR CALENDAR, WITH A TIMER,

Do this 4 days a week. Take just 30 minutes each day (at first.... less time as you stay consistent) to devote to taking care of filing, paperwork, planning, catching up and all the other stuff and clutter you want to clear so you can have a calm workspace, free of the overwhelming burden of all that stuff! Your cluttered desk will stay cleared!  Seriously.... this works!

Materials needed? Pretty basic stuff: 1) plastic tote boxes with lids, 2) a timer (very important) 3) a trash barrel, 4)  ummmm.... maybe some paper towels and furniture cleaner? maybe a vacuum cleaner?

Step 1. Gather all that STUFF

Gather all your lists, post it notes, plans, projects, ideas and write them out. Either on a piece of paper or on your computer, which ever works best for you. Examine each item briefly and ask yourself ....

  • “Does this really need to get done?” Is there any big problem is this doesn’t get done?” if the answer is “no” to either of those questions, either throw it away and forget it! ….
  • Or if you just can’t bring yourself to throw it away, put it on your “To-Don’t List” 

Step 2. Next, Clear the Clutter Off The Desk!

This is where you make the top of your desk and file cabinets and the floor around your desk appear before your very eyes!  It is very nearly miraculous!

  • Gather up all the paper piles, books, notebooks, filing, receipts, and all the items that are cluttering up your desk ~  pens and staplers, coffee cups and paper clips, books, headphones, coins, business cards, rubber bands, dead batteries, grandson's action figure, etc ~  get it all off your desk, and off the floor around your desk, and off the top of the file cabinet and PUT THEM ALL IN A BOX. With a lid on it.   For some of us it takes more than one box! I used a couple 10 gallon, clear totes with lids.
  • This is like a giant inbox (you'll get real inbox eventually, and that is another article)

Seriously, JUST CLEAR THE SPACE on and around your desk! Rest assured, you aren’t going to hide the stuff away (hence the clear totes in my case).  You WILL deal with it. You are going to put the "dealing with the stuff" at the top of your Clearing the Clutter To Do List you made above.

Step 3. Make the Space Around Your Desk Feel Good, Peaceful (or Energizing), Inspiring to You! .... What does that mean?

  • Mostly it means, be selective about what is IN and ON your space.
  • Your computer, a telephone, a lamp, a favorite journal or notebook or tracking document,
  • A potted plant or an orchid, or a sunflower
Move your desk to look out a window

if possible or facing an image that gives you a feeling of space and allows you to look at something beautiful. You don't have to go totally Feng Shui, but it isn't a bad idea!

Step 4. Schedule 30 minutes a day ON YOUR CALENDAR, 4 days a week, for the next 3 months at least.

  • Once a month add a 5th day
  • Divide the 30 minutes up: 5-10 minutes in the evening to plan what you'll do in your 20-25 minutes time slice of Clearing and Calming the next day. You don’t want to mix up planning and the doing or you'll get sidetracked!
  • SET THE TIMER FOR 20-25 MINUTES - remember your planning time from last night? If you want this to work for the long term, in a sustainable way.... stop at the end of your time.
  • Turn off your telephone, computer, close your training manuals, and anything else that might distract yoi.

This very special time just for you! …. AVOID THE MULTI-TASKING TRAP!

Be clear in your own mind, AND ON YOUR CALENDAR, that this is not marketing time, content development time, communicating or social media time, learning time, telephone time, etc

PUT STUFF AWAY Just open the first box and start putting stuff away according to what lies closest to the top.  Just open the box and get started one item at a time, top item only  … 25 to 30 minutes on the timer. But what does Put Stuff Away mean?

  • Put it in the trash
  • File it
  • Put it in your inbox to take action on

Step 5. Whatever needs action goes in the Inbox. Then List it!

Some things will need action. You won't want to file them away. So you put it in your inbox and List It! Don’t do anything with it, yet! You'll get to it.  I have found it helpful to have a loose leaf notebook and give myself one blank page per inbox project. That way I can identify action steps for each item when I come back to it.
  • Example: a bunch of receipts that need to be entered into Quickbooks and/or contacts that need to be entered into Excell but it hasn’t happened because the system isn’t set up or you are slow at data entry or you just plain dislike that kind of thing .... like I do!  BTW if that is the case! You shouldn’t be doing it! It is a WASTE of TIME to both do it and to worry about not doing it!
  • Instead, an item on your Clearing the Chaos List becomes, “Get Quickbooks and Excell set up and enter all receipts.” Maybe you'll have to suffer through the data entry, maybe you'll have your techno-talented-teenager do it, or maybe you'll hire a bookkeeper to deal with it!  But for now just get it off your desk and put it on the list!

On your Mark! Get set Go!

Get at Clearing that Cluttered Desk!

If you get 1/3 or ½ way through the box and the timer goes off…. Close the box and set it aside until tomorrow. Unless, of course, this is day 4!

In that case, wait till next week on your calendar! Avoid trying to catch up in advance by either working longer or more days.

Rest assured that may you have an extra day on your calendar sometime in the near future…. If you choose to use it!

Focus on Daily Completion not Perfection

Within a couple of weeks you will probably find that you only need 15 minutes a day to maintain a Calm, Clutter-free workspace and desk. You might not even need the box any more!

Let me repeat: Do NOT continue to work past 30 minutes a day. Close up boxes, file drawers, etc when the timer goes off. Even if/when you feel like you are on a role STOP. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for burnout. You will never get the habit, And the clutter will return in full force.