Home Forums Work Your Office Need Help with Desk Clutter

This topic contains 14 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  sunshinealli 9 years ago.

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  • #158212

    sunshinealli
    Member

    Hello, I am in need of some serious desk help. With all the incoming mail, kids paperwork, recipes to try, magazines to read, bills, etc I have a serious paper pile that I can never seem to recover from. I have tried filing them before, but out of sight, out of mind and then I miss important dates. Does anyone have a system that works for them? I want/need all these items, but don’t have a place to put it and so it just goes from bad to worse. Any suggested books to read? I am desperate to fix this clutter problem. Thanks for any and all suggestions.

  • #160666

    LauraCore
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    Yikes, sounds like you lead a pretty busy life!

    I use a pretty simple system. I have a magazine file on my desk with several folders for each of my projects and important information. Something like this: http://www.stacksandstacks.com/blog/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/file-holders.jpg might be easier for you to see/access. I used to use actual two pocket folders so that I could designate a side for incoming and a side for outgoing. However, I found that too often I would just slip the papers back inside and not fully process them. So now I use file folders and consistently process them to empty. Of course, this isn’t always easy or plausible but I try as best as possible.

    As far as out of sight out of mind, I keep a small calendar on my desk with important due dates/information. I also enter my dates in to my google calendar and on to my To Do list marker on my gmail. That way, when I am checking email I can also be reminded to process the folders. Or, if you are more visual you could get a larger desk calendar and mark it up with the due dates/important information that you need to remember. Then every time you sit down at your desk you’ll be reminded.

    Let me know if you find a system that works for you! I’m so curious about the way people manage their paper work. Luck!

  • #160668

    toberead
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    I like folders for long term storage, but for current items, I prefer a system where I can see everything. I work on a lot of projects for work, and I store them on a bookshelf. Each shelf is divided into three sections, and each section is for one project. I use post-it notes to label each spot, since the projects change too often to use permanent labels. Any time I want to find information on that project, I just go to that spot. I can look at the entire bookshelf and see exactly what I’m working on and roughly where I stand on my different projects. (Each section also corresponds to a folder on my computer, but I deal with a lot of printed documents.)

    The bookcase isn’t a perfect solution. There’s a lot of wasted space because the shelves are too far apart, but there’s no easy (or cheap) way to add more shelves. I’ve been looking for something inexpensive that would serve the same purpose. It’s surprisingly hard to find this kind of “cubbyhole” storage for use in offices, but you sometimes find it labeled as storage for kids toys, or for shoes, or for coats and hats. I used to have a very handy shelf next to my door that had hooks underneath, and 3 square cubby holes on top that were intended to hold kids hats and gloves – but they were perfect for papers. I also have a “sweater bag” that was intended to be hung on your closet rod to hold sweaters – I use it to store different types of paper for my printer. Sometimes you have to be creative to find something that may be made for something else, but is useful for what you want.

    But if you are an “out of sight out of mind” person, it helps to create a storage system that allows you to see what you’re working on. It can still be neat and uncluttered.

  • #160669

    Claycat
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    Great ideas! Thanks! I’m paper-challenged, too.

    I love the sweater bag being used to hold paper! I’m very visual, so many of these ideas work well for me.

  • #160670

    EraserGirl
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    1 magazines. unsubscribe from all of them.
    2 recipes. get them off the desk. tear it out, scan it, copy it, i put them in a folder in the kitchen. if you don’t try it in a certain amount of time. toss it.
    3. bills, i put unpaid bills in my notebook in my bag with my check book. but i only have 2 paper bills left..everything else i switched to online payments.

    basically i think most people are hanging on to too much paper when it really should never make it to your desk to begin with.

  • #160671

    Lynette
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    I really liked this system recently featured on unclutterer, which is clipboards attached to the wall. You could have one for bills, recipes, paperwork etc.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4058913501/in/pool-unclutterer

    I’ve also heard of people using the same concept, but using nails instead of clipboards and keeping it hidden behind a door.

  • #160676

    sunshinealli
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    These are all great idea’s… Thanks so much! Keep em coming, and then I will start to put together a system that hopefully will work for me once and for all!

  • #160679

    loripax
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    Count me in with the pilers. I’m also an out of sight, out of mind person. Here’s what’s been working for me.

    Like @toberead, I use bookshelves for current projects. I’m lucky in that one whole wall of my office is built-in shelves, and I can adjust the height of the shelves. I work in publishing, so I have multiple huge stacks of paper for each project and sometimes as many as six projects going on at the same time, and this lets me easily keep each project together.

    One of my shelves has a little basket on it for bills that need to be paid, and a tray to collect receipts that need to be entered into Quicken and bank statements that need to be reconciled. I schedule time to handle money stuff once a week, so those things can sit there until I’m ready to deal with them.

    I also have a slush pile on my desk (currently not in a basket or anything, although maybe it should be) of things that aren’t quite big enough for project status and don’t need to be dealt with right away, but soon. For example, right now that pile contains mailing list signup sheets from this past weekend’s shows (I’m also a jewelry artist), a reminder postcard about a wholesale show I’m considering attending, an order form a friend uses for custom work that she’s letting me use as a model for my own, the local art center’s new class schedule, and a flyer from my yard guy about his snowplow service. There are a couple of important things about this pile:

    1. There is nothing in there that is life-or-death deadline critical, related to a project that has an existing pile on the shelf, or has anything to do with finances.

    2. There are no magazines, newspapers, or other general I’ll-get-to-it-someday reading material in there. Those get their own piles. 🙂 Newspapers and magazines I can flip through while the TV is on have a pile in the living room. Magazines that require more concentration go on my nightstand.

    3. There is no unsorted daily mail or other paperwork in the pile. Mail is dealt with as it comes in the door. Bills go in the basket, magazines go in the appropriate pile, anything that can be handled on the spot is handled, junk mail is either shredded or goes as is into the recycle basket — and only then can those little things that need a little thought go into the slush pile.

    4. Anything in that pile that’s going to take more than a few minutes to deal with gets its own entry on my to-do list (e.g., the order form I want to make up).

    I’ve made a commitment to myself and scheduled time on my calendar twice a week to deal with that pile. It’s not allowed to grow to unmanageable proportions, and I’m not allowed to shove it in a box and deal with it “someday.” (I brought six banker’s boxes of “someday” papers into this house when we moved two years ago, and I’ve only just now been able to clean out the last one. Never again.)

    The keys for me are to be serious about sorting things to the right pile in the first place and to be fanatical about dealing with the slush pile twice a week.

    For recipes, I’ve found the best solution to be two three-ring binders full of sheet protectors. They live on my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. One is where I shove clipped or printed-out recipes that sound good but that I haven’t tried yet. I don’t organize these at all. Every so often I go through it for ideas and weed out those that don’t sound so appealing anymore. The other one is for the recipes I’ve tried and liked. Those get organized by type (main dishes, desserts, etc.).

    I hope you find a system that works for you.

  • #160680

    kbfenner
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    My mom would sort the mail at the mailbox if she could and never even bring it in the house–I bring it in, and sort it by the recycling bin–catalogs I haven’t been able to stop and other recyclables go in there, then I take the rest and open it by a trash can–we can’t recycle paper here. Bills–what few aren’t online go into a pile to take to the desk upstairs. Magazines go into a basket to be read. I like an actual magazine to hold and curl up with.

    The bills to be paid go into a clip thing. Once a week, I go through it and pay them. We use Google Calendar in our family to control all events–each member has his or her own schedule in his or her own color, and we can all see it on our computers.You can schedule anything on it, including and especially repeating events like bills and inspections and appointments.

    Recipes: I agree that if you aren’t going to try it within a certain time–a week or a month at the latest, pitch it. There are so many great sources online–I recommend Real Simple–you can store their recipes you like on their site, and their recipes are easy enough yet tasty. The New York Times has a great search feature, too. Why store a lot of recipes you haven’t even tried yet, when you can search by ingredient or menu item when you get ready to actually make it or go shopping to make it? When you actually do make it, and you like it,either store it electronically (I don’t like to have my computer in the kitchen–too dirty) or in a loose-leaf notebook.

  • #160687

    EraserGirl
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    i completely forgot my favorite thing. the bin on my porch where all the 3rd class mail, flyers, envelopes and packaging stays. if it never comes into the house it doesn’t become a problem.

    and don’t forget to unsub to all the mail order catalogs and put your name on the remove list for junk mail.

    i like using google calendar and have the REMINDER feature send a text message to my phone.

  • #160692

    jsights
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    I agree with EraserGirl on cancelling magazine subscriptions. If you have a pile of magazines “to read”, chances are you just don’t have time to read them all. Or they’re not all that important to you. Cancel them, and I bet you won’t miss them, AND you’ll save yourself money. If you decide you want to read one, go to the library. They’ll have most common magazines there for you to check out.

  • #160700

    loripax
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    I have to disagree with the across-the-board dismissal of magazine subscriptions. I’ve pared mine down to those I truly love and/or get value out of, but I could never get rid of them entirely. As I mentioned, I have two piles, but I do read them regularly — just not at the moment they hit the mailbox. Of the dozen or so magazines I get, only two are carried by the local library, and those are the ones I like to reserve for bedtime reading, so reading them at the library isn’t practical (you can’t check out current issues at any of the libraries around here). About half are essential to keeping up with techniques and trends for my businesses. And I choose to support the publishers of the magazines I enjoy reading with my subscription; if no one subscribes to the magazines I think are worthwhile, they’ll go away.

    The key is to have a system in place for dealing with the ones you’d rather not live without, rather than letting them pile up.

  • #160706

    EraserGirl
    Member

    Need Help with Desk Clutter

    I am totally jealous of Lori Paximadis. in many years of looking, i have found no magazine i would read cover to cover every month. usually i only read a few things and ditch the rest. unfortunately there are very few magazines in my trade and the biggest one..employed me until it went under 8(

    i agree the key is having a system and sticking with the items that you absolutely love.

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