I once saw the quote “a clear desk is the sign of a twisted mind”, and others have said that it’s the sign of a tidy mind. But the whole subject was woken in my mind by a blog I read yesterday: Happy Clean Off Your Desk Day.
I can honestly say that the only paper on my desk is a scratch pad and a tear-off calendar. There are no memos, no reports, no expense receipts – and I don’t feel the need for my desk to be cluttered in that way. But rather than rest on my laurels I’d like to share the steps I have taken to get to this point:
- if a document exists electronically then I only want the electronic version – and pretty much everyone I work with has learned that this is my way of working;
- if I have to have a piece of paper then I’ll either make it electronic (scan it) or file it and add a note to the relevant file or to-do list;
- expense receipts are recorded on a spreadsheet and filed as soon as possible after I incur the expense, and they sit in my laptop case (following my filing ethos); and
- finally, there are a few things which I need to refer to regularly, and these (very few) documents, along with my current meetings notebook, live in my laptop case.
Overall, it’s not difficult but it is a step-change for some people. It just requires a step-change in attitude, and a very determined effort at filing (electronic or otherwise). I can’t be that different to everyone else in terms of how many reports and documents come my way, so what will you do to create a clear desk?