As some of you may know, I have felt completely overwhelmed and stressed at my day job. (I am a paralegal by day.) I recently discovered zenhabits.net and this website has been helping me transform first my workspace and now my life.
The first thing that I did was clear off my desk. My desk had been an utter mess and completely covered in files and papers. Just seeing it caused me to be anxious. I knew something had to change.
Using the tips from zenhabits.net and my own process, I have almost completely cleared off my desk. I only have one current file that I am working on at a time now.
I have also given up multi-tasking. Now, that isn’t so easy in a busy lawfirm, but I have given up self-inflicted multi-tasking. It is too stressful for my personality. I can get as much accomplished in the same amount of time or even quicker by only working on one thing at a time.
Do you want a clear desk (and a clear mind!)? Here’s what I did. Somewhat taken from zenhabits.net, somewhat changed for my purposes.
1. Take EVERYTHING – I mean everything – all the papers, files, memos, stuff off your desk. You need to get an inbox. Honestly, this inbox has helped my immensely at work. Put everything into the inbox. If you have papers and stuff you need to go through actually in your desk, take all that out, too!
2. Now that your desk is cleared off, you will probably feel better already. I did. Now grab a notepad and pen. You will also need a file folder to use as your “action file.” Go piece-by-piece through your inbox. Do not rearrange or skip anything. Do one of the following with each thing: toss it; file it; take action on it; or place it in your action file and make a notation on it on your to do list for later. Generally, if you can finish the task within 2 minutes, take care of it right then and there.
3. Once you get through your inbox and it is cleared out (which is QUITE a wonderful feeling), make a decision – a Resolution – that you will clear it out everyday. I make sure I go through mine at least twice a day, actually. You can decide for yourself, but stick to it! The way my day is, I go through mine in the morning and then in the late afternoon. But, my mail is brought to me in the morning and more things are usually brought to me in the afternoon. You may need to work on it throughout the day.
4. Make sure you go through your action file each day, too. I think that zenhabits suggests clearing it out each day, but that just doesn’t happen for me. I have long term items, and short-term items….I just make sure that they are all on my to do list and I work from that to do list and my inbox all day.
Other miscellaneous tips about desks:
If you don’t use it everyday, it doesn’t need to be on top of your desk. Put it away in your desk, etc.
Also, depending upon your job or desk set up, you may have to train people to put things in your inbox rather than on your desk. It is so much easier to deal with a pile of mail in my inbox than on my desk. I don’t know why, it just is.
I have so much less stress and anxiety going to work now. I don’t have the awful looking desk that is so intimidating. I still have a mile-long to do list, but I can actually work on it, rather than feeling frozen by all the things I must do.
Feel free to leave your desk tips!
Here's to a clutter-free desk! (Now I just have to accomplish all this at home!)
P.S. Please check out my PIF post and join in!!