By Julia Price

January 30, 2014 4 min read

Do you ever have days where you look at your desk and realize that you have a gigantic mountain of laundry taking over your workspace? Or maybe your office desk is completely covered with files and files (and more files) to the point where you just want to pick everything up and toss it into the air, creating a snowfall of paper chaos?

OK, first of all, step away from the hazard area immediately and take a deep breath! You can conquer this in less than an hour. Simply devise a strategy -- a plan of attack -- and instead of letting the massive pileup show up as a daunting force of evil, just execute your plan as if you are racing against the clock. You can make this a game!

If you have overflowing files that are filled with items that have to be paid more attention and categorized with detail, stack them together and put them to the side. You can deal with them another day. Right now, your goal is to clear the space for immediate organization and results. There ain't nothin' hot about a hot mess of a desk.

Categories: Here's what you're going to do next. Everything can be broken into five categories and placed accordingly. Take five shoeboxes, or anything that resembles a bin, and designate each one as the following:

1) Supplies (pens, staplers, calculators, paperclips, etc.)

2) Important documents (invoices, anything related to billing)

3) Things requiring immediate attention (perhaps a form that needs to be signed and returned to your boss by the end of the day, or a birthday card that needs to be sent out to your favorite cousin by the next morning)

4) Personal (framed photos, your favorite protein bars, your stress reliever ball)

5) Trash (anything in this box can simply be tossed into the trash or recycling bin)

Now that you've completely cleared off your desk (go ahead and place that lamp on the floor, too), you can wipe down the dust and gunk left over. This doesn't just physically get the job done; it emotionally prepares you for a fresh start, as well.

Starting with the supplies, begin to unpack each of the boxes until you have emptied them out. Something happens as you do this: You actually visualize yourself putting everything back on your desk at once. It's powerful, because unlike a slow buildup of stuff, you get to take the control back as you decide which objects really deserve a spot on your sacred workspace. If there are objects left in the boxes, you can determine what to do with them later.

You may want to head out to a supplies store and get some additional filing cabinets or inside desk organizers to strategically add the elements back in while staying true to your newly organized self. Or you might realize that you don't need them around after all.

The freedom that comes from completely clearing your space is priceless. But remember that while you only designated an hour for a quickie (cleaning, that is), you don't want to procrastinate with sorting out the other remaining boxes or overload of files. This is a perfect opportunity to look at your personal and work life to see if everything is in balance or if the same sort of chaos is floating around in other parts of life also.

So as you celebrate the newly cleared desk in front of you, imagine how good it would feel to work on this desk every day, to feel in control and on top of your workflow no matter what lands in front of you throughout the day. In work, in life and in everything you do, of course!

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