Time Management #10: Attack of the Messy Desk

For as long as I can remember, my uncle carried around a stack of 3” x 5” index cards for making lists, usually in his chest pocket. His little notes to himself, reminders, to-dos, and messages always kept him prepared and made him feel more in control of his day. 

This system never worked for me. Whether index cards or post-it notes, I always failed. I would either lose them, they would come unstuck and float to the floor or behind a desk, or they were just never where I needed to see them when I needed to see them. 

These days I’m enjoying digital trackers, like Asana and iPhone’s Reminders app. There are so many task-scheduling programs out there, and once you find one that works for you, you’ll sleep better. I promise.  

There will be no more struggling to get to sleep because you keep thinking of things you need to do tomorrow (or that you forgot to do today). You can rest easy knowing you’ve captured what you need to, and all the info will be there when you’re ready. 

Preparing for your work is as important as the work itself. Setting the stage, clearing your desk—whatever you want to call it—really works! 

I’m sure we’ve all been the person with the desk piled high, not knowing where an important document is, and it’s just not efficient. When things get busy, it seems natural to just throw things on the pile and say you’ll worry about the mess later—when things slow down. 

But guess what? Things rarely slow down. The pile just keeps growing, along with your anxiety. So then you’re living in a constant state of chaos. 

You can save so much time by taking time to “set the stage” for work every day. Having a designated place for things leaves you knowing where things are when you need them and is crucial for your mental health. 

It may take a big overhaul at first—an hours-long purge even—but it will pay off. Once you’ve created that baseline, it will be no biggie to clear your desk at the end of each day and pull out your stack of index cards…wait, no. Time to step away from my uncle’s system! 

Or not. Maybe index cards work for you. You get the point, right?  

Whether it’s old school physical lists or high-tech ones, having all the things you need ahead of time, and knowing what things need to get done in advance, is a key to efficiency. 

piles of distractions filling up precious space in your mind.jpg

Imagine sitting at your desk and you’re totally ready to go! It’s pristine in there.  There’s no clutter around, you don’t need to find your phone or your laptop. Your pens, note cards and post-it notes are in arms reach, you just glide through the day.  There are no piles of distractions filling up precious space in your mind. You finish and you feel good sister. You put your head on the pillow and you sleep great! Every day can be like this! If you can imagine it, it can happen.  

The Scout Motto is as true as it ever was. Be Prepared!