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10 Simple Steps to Conquering Your Messy Desk

10 Simple Steps to Conquering Your Messy Desk


    Does your desk look more like a crime scene than a workspace? Is your job one where you interact with people face-to-face on a daily basis? If you answered “yes” to both questions, now’s the perfect time to look into cleaning up your act.

    Whether you like to believe it or not, coworkers and clients often judge your professional potential by the amount of clutter that surrounds you. And the last thing you want is to be sending nonverbal cues that you’re disorganized and unfocused.

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    Even if you’re the only one who ever sees your workspace, it won’t hurt to give these tips a shot. You’d be surprised how quickly items on your daily to-do list get crossed off when your desk is clean and airy.

    Here are 10 simple tips to help you get your desk space in tip-top shape:

    1. Give yourself less room to be messy

    Consider downsizing your computer desk (especially if you primarily work on a laptop). It’s hard to have a cluttered desktop when there’s only room for a computer, a phone, and a pen or two.

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    2. Keep the essentials out in the open

    Pare the items on top of your desk down to the things you use several times a day. Your computer tower, monitor, one or two pens and pencils, a lamp, highlighter, family photo, and phone will usually do. Keep papers filed away unless they’re something you’re actively working on that day.

    3. Get rid of duplicates

    Once you have your desktop essentials set aside, get rid of the extra office supplies you’ve unwittingly been hoarding. No one needs 3 staplers, 2 staple removers, 12 steno pads, 100 pens, 14 thumb drives, or 8 boxes of paper clips. Trust your office manager to have more of something if you run out of it.

    4. Keep the secondary essentials in your closest drawer

    You can keep things like extra pens, whiteout, stationary, binder clips, and staples in your closest desk drawer. A compartmentalized storage tray can help keep things organized while out of sight.

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    5. Hide it in plain sight

    Attractive decorative storage trays, drawers, and cubes work double duty by keeping non-essentials out of the way and giving your desk some personality.

    6. Use your walls (sparingly)

    Instead of putting sticky notes anywhere you can or having a clogged cork board, use a whiteboard. This ensures your daily to-do list is never more than you can actually handle in a day, and keeps you from having to solve the mystery of the missing Post-It. Keep your floorspace clear by using hooks to hang things like bags and coats.

    7. Files are your friend

    If it’s a completed or upcoming project, file it away accordingly. If it’s ancient or obsolete, trash it. If it’s something you’re actively working on that day, it can stay in a file folder on top of your desk.

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    8. Lose the paper trail

    Make digital archives (scan, then save as a PDF) of old documents then toss them (or put them into storage if you’re really attached). Doing this will let you free up file space that can be used for in-progress projects.

    9. Keep a shredder next to your trashcan

    Have one multi-tiered storage tray for incoming and outgoing mail. Resist the temptation to start another pile somewhere else once it’s full. Open your incoming mail over the trashcan and immediately shred or recycle what you don’t need.

    10. Schedule daily maintenance

    Once you have everything under control, set an alarm on your phone and schedule 10 minutes at the end of each workday to keep it that way. This will help you get into the habit of being tidy. Plus, it’s much easier than waiting for things to pile up and having to start from scratch every time.

    (Photo credit: Businessman with Messy Desk Asking for Help via Shutterstock)

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    Published on April 25, 2019

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

    Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

    Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

    Creativity.

    What is Creativity?

    When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

    Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

    Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

    From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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    For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

    Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

    That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

    Limitations are Actually Opportunities

    The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

    Let me illustrate with an example.

    On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

    However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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    At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

    It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

    This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

    I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

    To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

    My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

    But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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    “But daddy, is it important?”

    “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

    Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

    And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

    Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

    I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

    I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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    Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

    This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

    Creativity is One Key to Success

    When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

    Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

    Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

    So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

    Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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