Mercury Retrograde Boot Camp Day 10: Desk Declutter

Day 10: You knew this was coming… the declutter series of Mercury Rx.

Focus on your desk, or wherever you’re sitting right now as you read this. If you’re in a public place like a coffee shop or on a bus, look around you for loose garbage to clean up. It’s a small thing, but it’s also an act of clearing your path since where you are is part of your day-t0-day journey.

desk declutter - results may vary

If you’re at home and reading this on a laptop, look at the area immediately around the laptop, whether that’s in your living room, your  bedroom, etc. The same rule applies. Just declutter the immediate 360 degrees around you. You may want to grab a waste basket, or a waste basket, a “store it” box, and a “recycle it or send it to a thrift store” box. You don’t need to do the entire room. Just do the area around where you’re sitting. It’s part of the whole “one small thing” approach – doing a series of small steps actually gets more done with less  backslide than taking on a project all at once, and declaring “I will keep it neat forever!!!!” that within days (and sometimes hours) collapses back into its original entropic state. I encourage you to queue up some music or good TV to watch while you do this, if you are able.

If you’re on a regular desktop, here is my suggested approach. Alter it as it best suits you.

Phase 1:

  1. Corral all the pens. Put it in a pen can, or designate something like an old jelly jar as a pen holder.
  2. Gather every piece of loose paper in a single stack.
  3. Move things like your staplers back to their assigned spaces, or create an assigned space for them.
  4. If books, etc. are piled on peripherals, just pick up the pile and move it to the floor beside your chair.
  5. Gather the things that do not “live” in that room on your desk – in my case, I’m always leaving hair brushes and jewelry on my desk top.
  6. Give your peripherals, like digital and web cams, podcast headphones, etc. an assigned place – possibly even mark these with a label maker.
  7. Dust surfaces, apply compressed air to your keyboard, wipe screens with glass cleaner and a soft cloth.
  8. Put in a box for disposal or giveaway any desk type item you have not used in the last 18 months.
it is a good time to re-examine what you have onhand

Phase 2:

  • Go through the stack of papers, one at a time. If you see something to shred, shred it. If you see something to file, file it. If you have a scanner and there’s no legal reason to have a hard copy of a document you need to save, scan it. If you have a Smartphone or a digital camera, in some cases you can also just snap a picture – for example, I’m training myself to snap pictures of my store receipts for financial record-keeping. Make a decision about every piece of paper you go through. If you really WANT a particular piece of equipment, like a shredder, search for it on Craig’s List or freecycle.
  • Once you finish the paper pile, move on to the books, magazines, etc. I’m always referring to magazines while blogging, so sometimes it’s an act of discipline for me to give it up before I’ve gone over every flagged page. But depending on what you do, if it’s past a certain date, it’s time to move that on whether you give the magazines away or using them for crafting. (I cut my pages for origami practice paper.)
  • Give yourself a “creature comfort” audit. What things do you need at your desk to stay comfortable? Designate a place, even a special box, for them. In my case, I need my lip balm, flower essences, fingerless gloves and slippers. I also like having one or two pretty objects to look at – like my blue monkey, my skeleton Larry and a Maneki Neko. But while I like my toys, I also need to corral it to specific items. There’s a fine line between cheer and diving right back down the clutter wagon.
  • Follow this with a “make my work easier” audit. Would a corkboard help you see writing ideas, or give you a place to stash product labels?  If you made certain items more visible, would that help you? For instance, I have my monitor on top of  a stacked shelf where I can see my correspondence, stapler, calculator, and my skeleton buddy Bob.

If your desk is already pristine – and I know some of you are out there – perhaps this would be a great day to go through your filing cabinets, examine the documents you have on-hand, and shred, refile or update as needed.

Practical Reason:

You can find stuff! It makes work faster, stress lower, and life easier.

Metaphysical Reason:

The clear paths leave room for opportunity, and by making a series of decisions you previously put off, you can also set projects in motion for results after Mercury goes direct.