If you don’t hot-desk or have a clear-desk policy that works, the chances are your desk can sometimes (maybe frequently!) look like a bomb has hit it. So, before you lose another piece of paper or spend far too long looking for something that’s probably not there, here are the top ten tips to help you clear the paper clutter:
1. Sort your paper into four piles: Action, Read/Pass On, Filing and Junk. The last one is easy to deal with: ask yourself whether it would matter if you lost it. If not, why are you keeping it? If there isn’t a very good business reason to do so, or if you can get another copy easily, then bin it.
2. Action! That piece of paper is probably on your desk to remind you to deal with it. So diary the deadline and put away the piece of paper: file it, bin it, pass it on or, if you must keep it, use a bring-forward system (see number 8 below).
3. Read it. Are you ever really going to read it? How many times have you said ‘I’ll read it if I have time’? If you are going to read it, diary the date and put away the paper in a drawer or reading file until the time comes. Be realistic about it and be wary of saying, ‘I’ll read it when I get a minute’.