Steps one and two focused on evaluating your current organizing systems and setting up an action system for handling the paper that is currently coming across the desk. I like to implement an organizing system as early as possible. If we started going through the stacks of paper before setting up a new organizing system, the new paperwork will end up in a stack as well - further delaying a vision of a clean desk. Now that the action system is in place it's time to hit the stacks.
Step 3: Gather your tools and sort! Now we’re going to dig into those stacks and drawers.In addition to your trusty action system, you will need:
· A shredder
· A trashcan
· A recycle bin
· A box to hold things that belong in other rooms
· A box to hold donations
· Maybe add a timer and some music
Work in increments of 15 to 20 minutes. After each work increment, take a five-minute break to maintain your energy. Breaking up the sorting into work increments gives you the opportunity to do other things. You may not have the luxury of working several hours at a time sorting without risky falling seriously behind in your work. Depending on how big your stacks are you may need to spread your work sorting over several days.
For each piece of paper you pick up consider:
a) Do I need to take action on this? If so, write down the action, and put the paper in the action file in the appropriate category. Then go on to the next piece of paper.
b) If no action is needed, ask yourself if the information is available on the Internet. Thanks to search engines, information is often more readily available on the Internet than in our paper files. If the information is available on the Internet you can recycle the paper and go on to the next piece of paper.
c) If the paper is important and you must keep it, then file it away in a long-term file and then go on to the next piece of paper.
d) If the paper is junk, then discard it. Shred pre-approved credit card offers or anything with information that might compromise you.
As you progress through the stacks you might find things that belong in another room. Put those items in the box to return them to their proper places later. By postponing the relocation until after your sorting period, you’ll keep your focus on the task at hand.
When you finish the top of the desk, move on to the drawers. As you come across stationary items, sort like with like. In the end you will have many groups of items: a group of pens, a group of pencils, a group of paper clips, etc.