Happy New Year AND Happy National Clean Off Your Desk Day!!

If you make more piles than progress, (on your desk or in your email inbox), here is a foundational principle:

Make a Decision

When I was in college, I remember one of my business professors talking about an office strategy to only touch paper once. The theory being that once you touch it, you take care of it. It didn’t quite make sense to me then and when I entered the workplace, it really didn’t make sense to me. Any given item might take hours, if not days, to complete. How on earth could you only touch it once and do it all right then?

In 2007, as I became a certified trainer on workplace organization and productivity, the instructor, Chris Crouch with DME Consulting, said that the strategy was true only if the paper was called Charmin or Kleenex. Now that made sense!

But there is some truth to the strategy. I very much believe that when we touch that item, whether paper, email or some other form of communication, we should immediately make a decision on it. The three decisions we can make are:

  • Discard it
  • Do it (now or later)
  • File it

If you’re unburying yourself after the holidays (or longer),

  • Review each item and make one of those decisions
  • Stage the item in a dedicated spot, with other items of the same decision
    Tip: Use categories in Microsoft Outlook to do this with email
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes, stay focused, and chip away at the groups, starting with those that need done now. (Do this as many times as you can in the day.)
  • Do each day until you see clean space again!

Once unburied, keep making decisions and follow this process. Your desk – and inbox – will stay tidy all year long!

Of course, if you or someone you know needs to go a little deeper on this topic, I have plenty of options available. You could join our Personal Efficiency Mentoring Group (aka Organization & Productivity Support Group), you could take my course: A Better Way to Organize Your Workspace, or you could sign up for some Private Mentoring. Whatever you do, I hope you are as organized and efficient as you want to be in the new year.


May you have blessings, balance, and most of all, peace,