How a Clean Desk Can Make You More Money!

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How a Clean Desk Can Make You More Money!

Last time we talked about how asking the right questions can turn you into a Clutter Ninja! Today, it's all about money. And as everyone knows, time is money! By saving time, you will make more money. Want to save your time? It's as easy as starting with your desk!

Cleaning your desk to make more money is a 2-part deal. First, deal with the clutter, then move on to the paper.

This video has some great ideas to help you de-clutter your desk including a 20 minute desk clean up challenge.

Video Summary

  1. Discard unwanted or unused Items, perhaps you want to sell them?

  2. Put big items away, such as binders, books, and trade magazines.

  3. Create a paper pile. For now just put all the papers into one pile to sort later.

"The average desk has 400 times more bacteria on it than a toilet seat."

As a Trained Professional Organizer, I'm telling you, don't clean-up your desk just so you look like a tidy person. It has to do with efficiency. If you are easily distracted (like me) then focus is going to be the number 1 reason you get your desk organized. It's just not efficient to see those piles or files and get distracted from the priority items.

Assuming you did the 20 minute desk clean up as suggested in the video, lets now move on to that paper pile! In this next resource called The Art of Filing, the author really nails it:

"All too often, though, we waste our own time (and often the time of other people) searching for data that's actually sitting somewhere on our desk or in an office filing cabinet."

6 Steps to Proper Paper Management

The goal here, of course, is to stop wasting time, because time is money! Instead of digging for files, set aside some time to finally get those piles into a system that works for you.

1. Empty the Filing Cabinet

(Especially if you don't know what's in there.) Put it all in a bankers box and come back to it later. Don't be scared, once this step is complete, you will be forced to follow through.

2. Start Fresh

File FoldersGet new hanging file folders, plastic tabs, and file folders if the old ones are just too worn out. Don't colour code, long story short… it's just too much maintenance in the future and ends up becoming a barrier to organization.

3. Sort Into General Piles

Here's where it starts to get fun! It's time to dig through those piles and create categories that make sense for you and your work. Here are some ideas;

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • IT

  • Sales

  • HR

  • Management

  • What's Next

  • Personal


Only keep what you need going forward. The more time you spend thinking about what are the best categories the more efficient your system will be.

Look at that organized desk!

4. Put the System to the Test

Start putting your categories into file folders. If your business is big enough, you will also need subcategories within each of the broad categories. In fact, you may want to devote a whole drawer to one category, if you have that many subcategories. Now start using it, and see how easy it is to retrieve your important documents.

5. Use Your Digital Calendar

Whenever you receive an item that requires an action, put that task on your work calendar. Then you can file the paper away to be pulled out on the day you scheduled to work on that task. When you master this system, you will be able to retrieve papers quickly, stay focused on 1 task at a time, and accomplish more in less time!

6. Maintenance

Now that you've set-up the system. Here's a great way to avoid extra clutter and extra filing: The Art of Filing has some words of wisdom: "Avoid saving unnecessary documents.”

Don't make a habit of saving everything that finds its way to you. Clutter is sticky and just collects more clutter.

Take a few seconds to glance through the content, and save a file only if it's relevant to your work activity. Having too many unnecessary documents adds to clutter and makes it harder to find things in the future. Be selective about what you keep!

Move Paper This way

In my office, I try to deal with all the paper as it comes in. That way, the papers don't gang-up on me! My time is money and I don't want to spend unnecessary time digging through clutter. If it's not useful, I toss it. I don't leave it laying around collecting more clutter buddies. Once I learned to be realistic about how much I can actually accomplish, and how much I just can't deal with, then making quick decisions about paper and tasks becomes much faster and easier.

Stay tuned for next time when we talk about how to Stop Buying Duplicates! Organize Your Pantry Instead! Knowing where things are kept will keep you from wasting money on duplicate items because you can't find things. It makes supper prep faster too.

Editor’s Note: Originally published December 4, 2013, this post was updated and revised April 4, 2015.

Annalisa Sawatzky is a Pastor's wife and Mother of 2, who holds a Bachelor of Applied Design in Interior Design. Annalisa became a Trained Professional Organizer, and in 2012 started…

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