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30 May

You do not need an empty desk

Datum: 2012-05-30 12:00

I speak of the ben­e­fits of start­ing your day with en emp­ty desk almost daily.

And though it is a good start, it is easy to be mis­guid­ed by this con­cept into believ­ing that the desk must remain emp­ty through­out the day in order for us to score any struc­ture-brown­ie-points (if such a thing were to exist), but this is nei­ther a prac­ti­cal nor opti­mal way of thinking. 

The pur­pose of start­ing fresh in the morn­ing with an emp­ty desk is of course to have as few dis­tract­ing ele­ments sur­round­ing us as pos­si­ble which might hin­der us from work­ing with what is most impor­tant today.

We prob­a­bly need to use a great deal of space to solve the more dif­fi­cult tasks we are faced with through­out the day, and hence need to keep the per­ma­nent piles on the desk to a bare minimum. 

Less ele­ments of dis­trac­tion, such as papers, things or doc­u­ments that catch our atten­tion when we real­ly need to remain focused on some­thing else, reduces the risk of loos­ing focus and concentration. 

Rather than keep­ing your desk pedan­ti­cal­ly cleared of any clut­ter at all times, try striv­ing for mak­ing it easy to clear off. And this goes both for your phys­i­cal desk as well as your com­put­er desktop. 

Here are eight tips on how to make your desk­tops easy to empty.

Do this

  1. Keep your files con­cern­ing ongo­ing projects in a cab­i­net for hang­ing file fold­ers rather than stacked in a pile. The cab­i­net or stand is easy to move when you need more space.
  2. Have a phys­i­cal inbox that is easy to move aside rather than keep­ing a pile (or piles) of notes what you and oth­ers have at some point put on your desk. 
  3. Keep the sys­tem or stor­age-space you have for stor­ing doc­u­ments close at hand so that no new piles are formed while the doc­u­ments are wait­ing for you to file them cor­rect­ly into place. 
  4. Keep as many doc­u­ments as pos­si­ble in a dig­i­tal for­mat, and keep a scan­ner a foot or two away from your seat in order to make this process of dig­i­tal­iza­tion easier. 
    Once you have scanned it, throw away the phys­i­cal doc­u­ment, or store it some­place oth­er than on your desk. Store the scanned doc­u­ment in your fold­er-struc­ture on your hard-drive.
  5. Keep your to-do-list on the com­put­er, for instance in Out­look, Omni­fo­cus or in some oth­er online ser­vice, rather than writ­ing Pos­tIt-notes and past­ing them on your screen or keyboard. 
  6. Do not save any doc­u­ments on your com­put­er desk­top that you can­not erase at the end of the day.
    Store them in the fold­er-struc­ture on your hard-dri­ve instead, and use a file-find­er-fea­ture such as Launchy, Spot­light or Quicksilver. 
  7. If you still want piles of paper eas­i­ly avail­able, make your piles on trays with han­dles. You can then eas­i­ly remove the trays when you do not wish to see the piles. 
  8. If you have a bul­letin board above your desk, pur­chase a piece of fab­ric to drape over and cov­er it com­plete­ly when you need to engage in some­thing with undi­vid­ed atten­tion and focus. 
    Fas­ten a screw hook on either side of the board to hang the fab­ric on.

Less dis­tract­ed

If you can emp­ty your desk or your entire work­space effort­less­ly, it will be much eas­i­er to focus on the tasks that real­ly require your undi­vid­ed atten­tion.

You will not have to evac­u­ate your­self to an emp­ty space, such as a con­fer­ence room, when you need to solve a com­pli­cat­ed prob­lem, since you are com­plete­ly free of dis­trac­tions when you are in your reg­u­lar work­space.
Pre­pare your­self for get­ting taunt­ed or teased by col­leagues who haven’t been as suc­cess­ful in clear­ing their work­spaces. Yet. 

What is your way?

How do you get plen­ty of space to work in when you want to devel­op a great idea? Let me know by leav­ing a comment.