In the last post, we focused on emptying that messy desk. If you missed that one, I would suggest reading it first and then returning here.
Today, we look at how to put everything back together, only much better organized than before. While the desk is empty and at its lightest, decide if its location is the best location. For the classroom teacher, I recommend locating the desk in the back of the room. For those times when you are seated at the desk while students are engaged in activities at their desks, you want to be located where you can see them easily, yet they do not see exactly where or when you may be looking. For those in an office, determine if a better arrangement of the furniture would yield better results.
Do you have to roll your chair several feet, or even move to another part of the room, to work at your computer? I prefer an L-shaped work space. Something as simple as a small folding table can be placed at a right angle to the desk. The keyboard, computer, and telephone go there. With a swivel of the chair, you can work on the surface of the desk or on your computer. The extra surface for holding the computer equipment and telephone allows your desktop to be clean. On my desk at any one time, you will find decoration and whatever project I am working on right now. That's it.
Now Let's Load That Desk
Secure a drawer organizer for the lap drawer. A handful of rubber bands, paper clips, and binder clips go into the appropriate compartments. Several pencils, pens, and highlighters will find homes in the organizer. A ruler, letter opener, and small magnifying glass should fit nicely.
A file drawer will house your tickler files. If the drawer is not already fitted will rails for hanging files, purchase a system from an office supply store. Depending on the amount of papers you have in your life, you may require two hanging files drawers for your tickler files. Proper use of the tickler files eliminates paper from the desktop and the temptation to stash it in other desk drawers.
Select another file drawer for your stapler, tape dispenser, scissors, labeler, hole punch, and other small equipment. The back of this drawer could hold several dozen envelopes and some note cards. If you find you have two tape dispensers holding the same kind of tape or two staplers, move one of them out of your desk and to the area where you are keeping extra office supplies.
Where is your printer located? Keep a partial ream of paper nearby to refill it, but avoid allowing a desk drawer to store copy paper. The length and width cause even a small stack of paper to take up a majority of the space in the drawer. Likewise, extra folders are better stored in a fillng cabinet drawer. If you must store a few in your desk, store them vertically in the back of your tickler file drawer instead of laying them flat where you will invariably stack other things on top of them and have to pull those files from under other items.
Can You Keep It That Way?
When you get rid of the junk and relocate extra office supplies, you will be amazed at how much room you actually have in your desk and how good it can look. The challenge is to keep it that way. For years, your habit has probably been to use those desk drawers for whatever needed a home. It was so quick and easy to open a drawer and toss into it any sort of miscellaneous item. It's out of sight and out of mine. The problem is that, over time, the results of that habit grow. Put an end to that habit today.
If it doesn't have a home, the physical inbox is its home. That is the one place where incoming items go, and later, decisions are made about them. That's what happens with the mail each day. That's also what needs to happen with anything else for which a proper home is not evident. Put it in the inbox. Later in the day, clear the inbox, making thoughtful decisions about where its contents should go.
You spend a great deal of time at your desk. Why not make it a comfortable place which works for you?
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