If you were to organize your lap drawer in your desk (the middle drawer that is over your knees), where would you start? I ask that question in every seminar I give across the country and invariably people say they take it all out and throw away what they don’t need. Some may group items together, and then they put it all back. This is not organizing, it is simply rearranging, and that is why it soon returns to chaos. I’m finding that the main reason people are not organized is because they’ve never been trained. Business schools train managers to manage people but not how to manage their desks. Secretarial schools teach secretaries how to type 140 wpm but no clue is offered as to how to organize their desks.
Let me share with you my 5 simple steps to a more organized you:
Suppose you were going to organize your lap drawer. What would be the first step you would have to do? One woman in my seminar shouted, “I’d close the drawer and go have a sweet roll!” Another woman said, “I can’t get my drawer open.” Whatever your situation may be, the very first step would be to remove all the stuff—take out all the pens, pencils, clips, rubber bands, twisties, packages of sugar, tea bags, McDonald’s mustard and ketchup packets, business cards, loose papers, 3×5 cards, photos, keys, Post-it notes, dried up sandwiches, caked on candy, toothbrushes. Whatever lurks in the deep recesses of the drawer, take it out. It probably hasn’t seen light in seven years—it needs a breath of fresh air.
As you are removing all items, sort according to like items. Most people just take it all out and pile it on the top of the desk or on the floor. It’s hard to see what you have if you do it that way. Sorting like items will clue you to the fact that you have 87 pens and 830 clips. You might ask yourself, “Do I need so many?” Also sorting helps you to …
After you have sorted and you see that many of your pens are dried up or that the sugar packages have mated and grown exponentially, you can eliminate. You either throw them directly into the trash or you have a box labeled “to go elsewhere.” Into that box goes any item that does not belong in your office. After you have finished the drawer, take the “go elsewhere” box and distribute the stuff to where it goes.
Now comes the most fabulous step, the one most people leave out. For those of you who have gotten this far, stop and think. If you just put all these groups of pens, pencils, ruler, stamps, and clips back in the drawer, in a few short days they will be a jumbled mess again. How do you keep those groups sorted and separated at all times? By first containing them. Put each group in a container, a drawer divider, or a shallow box before you place them back in the drawer, they will stay contained and not fly all over the drawer again.
5. Assign a Place-Put it back
This step is the key. Don’t just stick the containers in the drawer. Assign them a place. Anytime you say the word “stick-it”—“I’ll just stick it here” or “I’ll just put it in here for now” or “I’ll just lay it here until I need it,” you have just created clutter! Don’t put things down, put them away. However, to put them away, you must assign them a place. How do you know where to put things if you have never assigned them a place? You may put them here one day or there the next. The items have a tendency to float from place to place. Assign those containers a defined place in the drawer.
You have done it! These are the fabulous five steps that you can use to organize any area of your office or home.
Have a great month!
Coming next month: Ideas on organizing your office
Sue McMillin – Professional Organizer and Trainer