National Clean Your Desk Day

So today is Clean Your Desk Day.  Really.  

Clean yours in 9 easy steps.

1.  Sort like items with like items.  Start with loose business cards, then move on to paper; office supplies; pens and writing utensils; food; personal items and decor; photos; miscellaneous and trash. 

2.  Toss anything that is definitely trash and move on to your paper pile.  

3. Paper.  Divide it into things to be recycled, shredded, scanned and filed.  Do the actions. The less you keep, the less you have to scan or file.  Use the Scannable app on your phone if you don't have access to an office scanner.  

4.  Pens and Pencils.  Can some of them be donated to coworkers or the office supply room?  Keep 3 of your favorite pens, a pencil and a high-lighter.  The rest are just excess.

5.  Decor.  Pick 3 items to keep on your desk, donate the other ones or give to the Pam in payables that always comments on her love of your dolphin statue.  

6.  Photos.  Display 5 or fewer.  Any more than that and things start looking messy.  You can keep the others in a folder in your file drawer and swap them in when you want a change.  Better yet, scan them all and get a digital picture frame with USB drive to keep on your desk.

7.  Food.  Check the expiry dates.  Toss.  Keep the rest in one small bin in your drawer or cabinet.

8.  Office Supplies.  Just keep one of everything that you actually use.  Bonus points: just keep the pens, a highlighter and pencil. Let the office store room hold the rest of that stuff for you because you probably won't need it.  See if your coworkers are out of tape and give them one of your 38 rolls.   Keep the rest in a small bin or drawer. 

9. Miscellaneous "Stuff".  There are probably a few items that have nothing to do with your work life.  Take them home, give them back to their owner, donate them - just get them out of your desk. :)

Bonus Points: Wipe down your desk and drawers before you put stuff back into them. It's probably pretty crusty.  Yuck. 

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Decluttering vs. Organizing

If you're curious as to why this home organizer is always talking about decluttering, not organizing, it's because there are 2 ways to get organized:  Own less stuff or buy more shelving and bins.  

I'll let you decide which is more attractive.

It's just physics. There is only so much storage space in our home and only so much attention we can give to our stuff.  We all flow between numerous roles everyday:  Employee, employer, parent, child, sibling, friend.  All of those roles take energy and at the end of the day, there isn't much bandwidth left to deal with stuff. 

Stuff is organized if it has a specific home.  A place on the shelf, a spot in your drawer.  A place that it returns to after each and every use.  Everything else is clutter. The thing is, as new stuff come into the home, new homes for those items have to be created.  If an old item doesn't leave when a new item comes in, at a certain point, shelves, closets and garages became overstuffed.  

I've only worked with 2 people who really, truly did not know how to organize.  They had tons of empty storage space and not much stuff.  The other 300+ people I've worked with knew how to organize.  They were just overwhelmed by the volume of stuff in their homes and needed a helping hand to dig through it, find the treasures and let go of the rest.

To be clear, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "stuff".  It's a problem when it's causing you problems.  When you're frustrated, embarrassed and angry.  When you can't find something even though you "know it's here somewhere".  This is why I harp on decluttering before organizing.  No number of shiny bins from the container store will fix your physics problem.  If there's too much stuff, there's just too much.  Once we have the space to give everything you love a home, THEN we can get a few shiny, pretty bins to house the stuff.  

If this makes sense to you, please hit the little <3 button below or share it with someone who could benefit!  

Books: Part 2 - More Organizing Tips

Now that you've sorted through each shelf and are left with the best of the best, let's figure out what to do with them.  You could just leave them as is, or we could add a bit of pizazz. 

One of my favorite ways to do this is grouping by color.  Pull all those puppies off the shelf, start with red and put them back up in color order.  I find red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, black to be the prettiest way, but do whatever feels right to you.  The reverse of that works well too - see below.  Whatever moves you.

If the thought of not grouping by type makes you twitch, then by all means, group them by type.  You could try stacking them horizontally with a favorite tchotchke on top, grouping by color within type or at least grouping by size within type. 

If you're still feeling like you have an overwhelming number of books, consider digitizing some. Kindle books are often cheaper than print AND can be opened using the Kindle app on pretty much every device you own.  

And about all those new books you're dying to read?  You can check them out digitally from many local libraries. 

 

If you're wondering where to take those castoff books, your local library or Goodwill are solid bets. 

So there you go.  7 days to get rid of the books you no longer love.  And a day to design your shelves for maximum gorgeousness.