Okay, here’s my Challenge for you all.
Take your desk. Work, home, wherever it is.
Take everything off it. Everything except your computer. (Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor, iPod/iPhone dock, maybe some speakers too can stay). Everything else comes off. Put it on a pile on the floor or in your inbox or something. Not even Post it Notes. If you one of those people that puts Post It Notes on your Monitor or Desk or something like that, take those off. Clean, use the picture attached to this post for reference of what it should look like.
Now, let’s go through this stuff.
Pile of stuff. Go piece by piece. Do you need to file it? Go file it, matter of fact, would you best be served by scanning whatever the piece of paper is, and put it into your computer?
What do you take notes on? Paper? How about you try taking all your notes digitally. Use something like Evernote, or Notepad, or Wordpad. Doesn’t matter what it is, just get your notes digital. If you are using Mail.app, use the Notes. If you can use Evernote, use Evernote. Do you use Outlook? It has a notes feature as well. Give it a shot.
All those Post It Notes. Are they reminders? “Shut off the lights”. Try putting stuff like this on your calendar. “New Event -- Shut off the lights, set reminder, everyday M-F 5 pm”. Are they phone numbers for people? Put them in your Address Book in your computer. In Outlook or whatever you use to manage your contacts. Are they serial numbers or helpful little jotdowns? Put them in a note, title it appropriately so you can find it again.
What is left? Catalogues? Do you need them? Do you need all of them? Can you reduce costs by going with one vendor for your office supplies? Throw out the ones you don’t need/want anymore, then put the ones you want to keep on a bookshelf, or in a desk drawer. Better yet -- Can you throw them all away and manage the account online, ordering and everything? Try recycling those inch thick catalogues.
For those of you that have a laptop as your desktop machine, you have it ideally. You can take your desktop with you, all your notes, everything. Awesome. How can you make this work for you? Taking your laptop to meetings? Can you take notes your phone/mobile device and then email the notes to yourself?
If you have your own printer in your office, and you make it a bad habit of printing out lots of stuff, try shutting off the printer. Unplug it. Create it a chore for yourself to print something out. Avoid printing as much as you can.
At the end of this exercise, your desk should look like the picture above, and you should have nothing on the floor.
Are you one of those people that one of those big flat desk calendars? Or a piece of glass where you store business cards underneath? Take those business cards, and put them in your address book/contact list. How about that Desk Calendar? Can you use the calendar in your computer? In Outlook? iCal? Lightning? Google Calendar?
Digitize yourself. Use things like Dropbox, LiveMesh, or iDisk to be able to get at all your things wherever you are.
For the next step, get really down and dirty and do the same thing through your desk drawers. Good Luck. Let me know your results.
By the way, yes, I’ve done this.