A Smart Desk Set Up Can Save You Hours of Time per Week

Have you ever seen an in basket piled so high that you thought it might tip over?  Have you ever seen a "to file" box with documents and/or folders that were years old?  Have you ever watched as a co-worker frantically searched for file folder and not be able to find it?  Maybe you have witnessed all three of these situations, or worse yet,  maybe you have  first hand experience as THIS person.   Will having a perfectly set up desk get you to a 4 hour work week all by itself?  Of course not.  But it will be a help for you to be able to cut a lot of "busy" work out of your daily schedule.

In 5 steps you can completely transform your desk into a high powered, effecient workspace where everything will be easily located at arm's length and nothing will slip through the cracks.  Here's how:

Step 1.  Go Paperless - This step is absolutely essential.  For $300 or less you can purchase a desktop scanner with software that will help you scan and organize all of your paper on your PC.   You will be able to get rid of 99% of all of your paper.  The IRS accepts scanned images of paperwork and receipts.  Purchase a desktop scanner and do the following.         

  • Set up folders on your computer for all of the categories and sub-categories you will need for your documents.  Take as much time as you need to set this up correctly the first time.  You will, however, always be able to add categories and sub-categories as needed.
  • Gather all papers that you will be scanning.
  • Set aside a a time frame that will be as uninterrupted as possible to scan your documents.
  • Scan and save everything you have gathered.
  • Back up all of your scanned documents on a flash drive, external hard drive or CD when you have finished.                    

Step 2.  Clear the desk - Take everything off of your desk and let's start from scratch.  Mentally, it is much easier to think clearly with a clutter free desktop.   Let's put only what is absolutely necessary back on your desktop.  Your desktop scanner, monitor (Never a CPU), keyboard (if not a laptop), phone,  in basket, file basket, stapler and tape dispenser.  Anything else should take a really good reason.

Step 3.  Working on Folder Area - Set up an area for current projects you are working on . This area should be visible and reachable from your chair.  Ideally not on your desktop but if that is your only option, purchase an upright  folder stand that you can place the folders in.  This working folder area will keep all paperwork from individual projects in separate folders.  When a project is completed, it can be placed in the "to file" basket and processed in step 5.

Step 4. Follow this Rule - If you take it out of your in basket, never put it back in to your in basket . EVER.  Once you have taken it out of "in", you need to process the item to it's completion and put it into your file basket or you need to create a folder for it and place it in your current projects area.  You may want to have a folder labeled "Miscellaneous" in your Working On folder area. This folder could be used for work tasks  which you wouldn't classify as needing a separate folder.  This way they won't end up back in your in basket.

Step 5.  Scan your File Basket Once a Week - Pick at day of the week and time that you will be able to consistantly scan all of the papers in your "to file" basket.  Consistency is the key here.  Don't let the "to file" basket stack up to where it will seem to overwhelming to tackle.

Once you have this system in place it will take very little time to maintain it.  All you will need to do is:

  • Maintain the rules of the "in" basket and the "to file" basket
  • Maintain your "working on" projects area
  • Scan  your documents once a week

It really just comes down to being consistent in keeping things off of your desktop and putting things in their appropriate place.  The effect of this 5 step plan can be incredible.  Imagine the confidence you will feel when you are certain you have all of your current work neatly organized within arm's reach and that all past work is easily accessible just a few clicks away.  This streamlined method of organization and processing your work can save hours of time per week.  Get started today and good luck !