Clear Your Desk in 3 Steps

desk clutter

Based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Zen Habits have put together this process to keep your desk clear – something that really affects your work daily.

It’s about as basic as you can imagine, but those are the best processes to get things moving. Plus I’ve got a little secret – this one is really only 2 steps, the third is just repeating steps 1 and 2 the next day!

1. First, take everything on your desk and in your drawers, and put them in one big pile. Put it in your “in basket” (if it doesn’t fit, pile it next to your desk or something). From now on, everything that comes in must go in your in basket, and you process everything as below.

2. Process this pile from the top down. Never re-sort, never skip a single piece of paper, never put a piece of paper back on the pile. Do what needs to be done with that paper, and then move on to the next in the pile. The options: trash it, delegate it, file it, do it, or put it on a list to do later. In that order of preference. Do it if it takes 2 minutes or less to complete. If it takes more, and you can’t trash, delegate or file it, then put it on a list of to-dos.

3. Repeat at least once daily to keep desk clear. The end of the day is best, but I tend to process and tidy up as I go through the day. Once you’ve processed your pile, your desk is clear. You’ve trashed or filed or somehow put everything where it belongs (not on top of your desk or stashed in a drawer). Keep it that way.


This is the first step in the great GTD rulebook. Everything new goes in the Inbox. Then piece by piece you can deal with each item.

3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk – [ZenHabits]

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