If you work from home or have a desk you use at home, this next section is for you. The first step is to do one simple sum: calculate the percentage area of naked desk you can actually see. Don’t cheat and tidy your desk before you do this. Just leave it exactly as it is to get an honest appraisal of your situation.
Now, I’ve seen hundreds of desks in my consultancy work, both in businesses and private homes, and one thing most of them have in common is that there is virtually no space on them where a person can work. Usually there is an area about the size of a piece of paper that has been left free and everything else is occupied, either with equipment or with stacks of paper waiting for attention.
My advice is: clear your desk! There was once a wonderful book by Declan Tracy with just that title (sadly no longer in print), and in it he described the desks and business practices of some of the top entrepreneurial business people in the world, who all keep paperwork to a minimum. A clear desk means a clear mind, and a clear mind has vision and perspective. If you are bogged down in paperwork, that’s exactly where you’ll stay.
Working with a clear desk increases productivity, creativity and job satisfaction. An excellent habit to acquire is to always leave your desk clear whenever you finish. It is psychologically far more uplifting to start with a clear desk rather than with mounds of paperwork, which make you feel defeated before you even begin.
So begin now by removing from your desk absolutely all paperwork that is pending your attention and all objects that are not absolutely vital. I’m talking here about leaving only real essentials, such as a computer, telephone, pen and notebook. Keep other extraneous equipment such as staplers, pots of pens, paper clips, fluffy toys, bags of munchies, and so on, on a nearby shelf or in your desk drawer.