These mistakes lead to desk chaos

Chaos on the deskimago images / Thomas Eisenhuth

The Japanese bestselling author Marie Kondo has taught people around the world how to clean up and throw away. The method of the regulatory consultant is based, among other things, on the following principles: Tidy everything up quickly and perfectly at once, only keep what makes you happy, assign the things that are allowed to stay a permanent place. In the meantime, Kondo stepped up and, together with the organizational psychologist Scott Sonenshein, transferred their principles to the desk in the book “Joy at Work: Tidy and successful in working life”.

Anyone familiar with Kondo’s concept of private mucking out won’t necessarily find much new in it. And whether printed duty rosters or stacks of receipts for expense reports can make you happy is an open question. In the meantime, these 5 tips are generally useful:

# 1 No regularity

Those who wait until they have walled themselves in with stacks of books and papers around their computer are finding it increasingly difficult to find the curve to start cleaning up. It is better to flip through papers and documents regularly – this applies both physically to the desk and digitally to the e-mail inbox and numerous file folders. If it is too much for you to invest ten minutes of time in throwing away and deleting things shortly before the end of the day, find a fixed weekly date on which you want to do this. Make a note of this in your calendar too, so that you will be reminded.

# 2 Don’t dispose of papers

Work your way from visible to invisible, from the stacks of paper on your desk to the umpteenth sub-folders in your e-mail inbox. It is important to have the courage to leave gaps, especially with all physical documents. In all honesty: Isn’t it possible to find almost everything that you’ve been hoarding on your desk for ages on-line – when you actually need it? In practice, the case that you regret throwing away a paper script is rare.

# 3 No system

Think about a system that works for you, how you want to put things that need to be kept safe. This includes first of all the selection of what needs to be archived electronically and what actually needs to be printed out. Possible categories are either different subject areas or ongoing projects or the urgency status. Do not choose your categories too fragmentarily so that you do not primarily manage yourself through your classification system. On the other hand, do not subdivide too generously, otherwise it will be difficult to find things later. The most important to dos should always be clearly visible anyway.

# 4 Better to look away

Not only your living room at home, but also your workplace in the office can look great. Get hanging files or folders that are not only functional, but also look good for your taste. Pens, pads, holes and the like can also be an eye-catcher on the desk. Treat yourself to fresh flowers on a regular basis next to the computer, and if you like something like that, also a decorative object. If you genuinely find your workplace beautiful, it will naturally take care of it rather than cluttering it up. Speaking of garbage: To have a tidy workplace, you always need a wastebasket.

# 5 Too many devices

Anyone who regularly works from home should also check whether all the technical devices really need to be on the desk. Haven’t you sent or received a fax in ages? Then away with the space eater. Or do you sometimes not use your printer for several weeks? Then it might make sense to pack the device in a cupboard or shelf and only take it out and connect it when necessary. If you use a mouse and keyboard with Bluetooth, you also have less cable clutter on your desk.

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