Monday, January 3, 2011

Step One - Clean off the Desk

Most of us find our desks under a pile of stuff to do.  My big tool for cleaning my desk off is a simple yellow legal pad, which becomes my "master list."  Just make a pile of everything on the desk and go through it a piece at a time.  Every item on the desk can either be trashed, filed, or needs something done to or with it.  Obviously, the trash stuff gets thrown out.  If something needs to be filed, it goes straight into a file.  If no file exists, I make a new one--just a manila folder, with the title written in ink on the tab. 

That leaves items requiring action.  These get written on the master list.  Once the task is on the list, if there are still materials on the desk required to do the task, those can get their own file folder, or can go into a single "pending" or "unfinished business" folder.  Nowadays, both the list and the folder can have an electronic twin.  But neither my physical nor computer desktop gets strewn with junk anymore.

To be 100% honest, neither my computer, my desk at home, nor my desk at work is completely bare.  I have a couple of key desktop folders on the computer, some cubbyholes built-in on my home desk, and a stacking file tray on the corner of my desk at work.  But all of these just serve to subdivide the "pending" work within easy reach. 

The bigger question comes when I look at the list--what to do with this uncategorized mess?  What do I do first?  What do I do today?  That's tomorrow's blog.


Tommy said...

I like your master list idea; I do something similar to that. Nothing helps get your work done more than writing out exactly what that work is and then prioritizing what work needs to be done right now, soon and whenever you can get to it. Dividing up a big task into smaller more manageble tasks (chunking) is also very helpful. My mind tends to try to make every task big and therefore daunting which leads to much stress and procrastination. Getting it out of my mind and on paper usually makes it seem much more manageable.

bekster said...

Yeah, but what do you do when you have multiple lists floating around and you're not sure where they all are? I keep trying to keep the lists all in one place (spirial notebook or, better yet, day-planner-thingy). However, when my brain starts thinking of little things I need to remember, I have anxiety until I write them down, so I end up grabbing whatever paper-like substrate is nearby and jotting things down immediately. It makes me feel better in the moment, but then I can't always remember what I did with the list.

bekster said...

*spiral notebook

Greg and Kim said...

Step 2: Write the next blog:).

bekster said...

So, no Salley Commentary on Egypt?

BTW, happy belated b-day. I was thinking we would get to see you in person then, but it didn't happen.