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Desk Organization
by Ronnie Eisenberg

For many people, their desks are where they live most of the day. And many of these environments are overwhelming disasters. I'm often hired to be a "desk doctor," and I can't tell you the number of times I've walked in and seen a desk that easily could have been mistaken for the home of a pack rat, yet the client assures me that he or she has cleaned up for my arrival. With dedication, a hopeless mess can become a model of efficiency. I find most people's problems generally fall into one of three categories:

Here are some ways to get your desk under control:

General Planning

Organizing Your Desk Area

Establishing Better Desk Work Habits

When it comes to desk organization, stacks of paper are the single biggest problem I see. You don't have time to finish a project, so you leave it until morning ... You're expecting an answer from XYZ Company by the end of the week, so you'll leave the file out until then ... You didn't finish reading the mail, so you'll leave it until Monday. And the only problem is that by the time Monday comes, it's too late because there is pile after pile, and it seems it would take two weeks to ever untangle the mess.

Here are some tips to help you work better:

What to Do When Your Desk Is a Disaster

Many of my clients are truly frantic because their desks are such a mess. They can't find slips of paper on which they wrote important phone numbers; they know they received information they sent for, but it's buried in a pile of paper; they were working on a chapter of a novel, but the notes for the next chapter are gone. Here's how I counsel them when I make a house call:

Organization is a skill that can be learned. The most difficult part is breaking your lifelong bad habits (like letting your paperwork pile up). The key to getting better organized is to start with one small step and then take others one at a time. You may find that what you've put off for years takes only an hour to do. And once you see the benefits in one part of your life, you'll be motivated to go on.

If you implement the ideas given here, you'll be free from chaos and feel in charge of your life. Once you've started, stick with it. Getting organized is the first step; persistence and follow-through will keep you that way. Now, go get started.

Ronnie Eisenberg is a nationally recognized time-management and organizational expert. She lives in Westport, Connecticut.

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