Friday, August 14, 2015

Reclaiming Your Desk

As a writer, the center of your world is your desk. For some, perhaps you, that center is often hidden by a mountain of stuff—yes, stuff. Papers to file, mail to open and read, notes, books, pens, rulers, and a myriad of “personal” items that have moved in and homesteaded on your valuable desk property.

Can you see the surface of your desk? Or are you totally overwhelmed and need a miniature snow plow to clear it? Chances are that sometimes, perhaps most of the time, this is true for many writers.

So how do you reclaim this valuable space? As with the acronym P-L-AC-E that we discussed in this blog last week, there’s another one just as effectual—R-E-M-O-V-E—Reduce distractions, Everyday use, Move to the preferred side, Organize together, View your time, and Empty the center.

Let’s start with removing distractions. While it’s nice to have a couple of photos and favorite little items on your desk, they take up valuable space and distract you. A photo of a loved one may motivate you, so we’ll give you that, but too many other photos and what not will certainly distract you from your writing. So remove from your desk anything that isn’t directly related to your writing. Put those items on a shelf or some other place in your office.

Only put items you use every day on top of your desk. Everything else should go into drawers or cabinets underneath it. There’s no need to have a mug full of pens at your disposal. You’ll only use one at a time anyway. And while a few extra ones, especially with different colored inks are good to have, keep them in your top desk drawer for easy access. The same goes for notepads, paperclips, rubber bands,etc.

Everyone is either right or left-handed. And while some may be ambidextrous, they’re in the minority. Arrange the items on your desk to complement the hand you use. Move everything to the preferred side. Place pens, pencils, and pads where you reach for them most. Most writers don’t even consider this when setting up their desk. Rearranging everything to suit your most used hand will make working easier.

And just as you did in the general organization of your office, organize like items together. Grouping helps to establish centers so that you can easily find what you need.

Make sure you place a clock on your desk so that you can easily view your time. And be sure to make it big enough to easily see it at a glance. Don’t depend on looking at the tiny numbers on your computer’s task bar to find the time. Always keep time in view so that you can budget it better.

Keep the center of your desk clear by emptying it each time you finish a project. Clear space in the center of your desk so that you can work on the project at hand.

Finally, aggressively attack your mail, both regular and Email. Provide an inbox for incoming mail and one for outgoing mail. Designate specific times during the day to read your Email and turn off Email notifications on your computer and on your smartphone. They can distract you more than anything.

With these tips in mind, plan on reorganizing your desk space so that it’s an efficient and pleasant place at which you can work. You’ll soon discover that your productivity will soar.

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