Organizing your life? Start at your desk

August 06, 1993|By Gwen Salley-Schoen | Gwen Salley-Schoen,McClatchy News Service

Have you ever excused the mess on your desk with the pat phrase, "Don't touch anything. I know where everything is?"

Have you ever used a co-worker's desk because yours was so loaded with loose papers that there was no place to work?

Do you store papers, books, binders and boxes under your desk where your feet should go?

Here's a book for you: "Organizing Your Workspace" (Crisp Publications Inc; $8.95), a guide to cleaning up your act at the office, by Odette Pollar, director of Time Management Systems, a management training firm in Oakland, Calif.

The book focuses on ways to organize your desk and eliminate paper piles. And to help you do it, there are exercises, checklists and forms. All are easy to follow. Chapters include "How Backlogs Develop," "How To Get Started," "Filing It and Finding It," "Managing the Top of Your Desk" and "Managing Your Mail and Your Reading."

Here are some of her tips:

* Calendars: Use calendars to track appointments, due dates, project deadlines and meetings. Do not rely on your memory. Write everything in pencil. Use only one calendar. Keep the calendar on top of your desk.

* When to toss: Ask yourself these questions: Is it a duplicate? What is the date? Do I need this or simply want this? How often will I refer to the information? Is the information current and relevant to my work or life? Will it add something new to the material already on hand? Do I have time to read this? Is it required by law to keep it?

* Controlling clutter: Decide immediately. Commit yourself to making decisions now about what to do with each piece of paper. When possible, handle paper only once. Do not set papers aside to decide later. If it must wait, place it in a "tickler file" to return to in one week. Clear off the top of your desk at the end of the day. Be realistic about the amount of information you can read and absorb. Limit the number of subscriptions you take and clip articles as soon as you read them. Keep your organizing system and your files simple, easy and logical.

* Filing tips: File papers in the broadest possible category. Head files with a noun, not with a date or adjective. Alphabetize. File articles by the subject they address. Place the most recent document in the front of the file.

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