Jul 21, 2011

Emergency Desk Declutter Plan

My husband says that I'm addicted to lists. He has even been known to mock me (just a bit). He may be right. All I know is that I need major help when I'm faced with a mess that makes me want to quietly close the door and dash off to somewhere far, far away!

Having a list, a full-out plan, gives me some gumption to face things. The list is like a drill sergeant who orders me around. I can obey without having to think, which I find quite helpful. Having to think in these situations just causes heart palpitations.

Because of this need in my life, I have an Emergency Cleaning List in which I laid out a plan to recover my house after major disasters (usually of my own making!) and my previous post about my Starting Points that give me a jump start for daily life cleaning.

In the comments of my Emergency Clean plan, though, Lilli asked if I had a similar emergency list for my desk which reminded me that there is a third area with potential for agitation: The Paper Mess.

I deal with SO much paper due to personal finances, my husband's business, and homeschooling that I have indeed developed a plan out of desperation. My drill sergeant reappears when needed and starts barking at me until the paper is whipped into shape.

So, I give you my

Emergency Desk Declutter Plan

  1. A beverage is quite nice to have available. Water would be ideal, but you may need some caffeine for this job. The drill sergeant can get pretty rough.

  2. Gather up supplies: A garbage or recycle bin, a shredder, a stapler, and a pen.

  3. Sit on the floor with your supplies. I know this is weird, but that's what I do.

  4. Start on the far right of all desk/paper related areas.

  5. Pick up a stack so that you can see the surface underneath and place it in front of you on the floor.

  6. Beginning at the top, begin to sort into categories.

  7. Trash/recycling/shredding go in their receptacles.

  8. After each piece of paper has been initially dealt with in that stack, go for the next one.

  9. When all paper has been removed from all surfaces and you're surrounded with your sorted stacks, start on the right (again) and begin to "finish" each stack to its final destination.
NOW, what exactly do have I have surrounding me on the floor? I know it looks like just another mess, just lower, but it isn't. I always sort into the same categories which all have designated places:


  • Homeschooling completed work for portfolio binder

  • Homeschooling completed work for posterity (in notebooks)

  • Homeschooling information to be used now (goes in current area where workbooks are)

  • Homeschooling information to be used in the future (goes in files in HS bookshelves)

  • Business customers completed to go in filing cabinet

  • Business customers for further handling to go in wall pockets labeled "Pending Acceptance," "Accepted," "Pending Payment," "Paid/To Tithe."

  • Business Paid Payables to be filed in filing cabinet

  • Business Unpaid Payables to put in "bill basket" in desk area

  • Personal Paid Payables to be filed in filing cabinet

  • Personal Unpaid Payable to put in "bill basket" in desk area

  • Personal Misc. items to go in filing cabinet (eg appliance manuals, birth certificates, brochures for places to visit, etc.)

  • Store receipts separated into business and personal folders in wall pocket near desk

  • Pictures, CDs, empty water glass, etc. just go where they belong

  • Household Management stuff goes in my Homemaking Binder. I may do a separate post on this.


As I put each stack away, the drill sergeant lightens up a bit. When the floor is cleared, I dust my desk surfaces, call my son in to admire my work (he's good about that), and pat myself on the back.

8 comments:

Stephanie said...

I love lists. It's fun to cross things off as you work because it adds visual confirmation of achievment. People that don't make lists will never understand.

Roxanne said...

Stephanie--We should start a club! We need to make a list about all the details...

affectionforfitness said...

What a great post! I actually do sort my desk stuff on the floor at my office--just like your post recommends. There's just more surface area on the ground! I have a hole puncher, stapler, paper clips, and post-it notes to help me organize.

But, I don't know why, my home desk is an awful mess and needs dire attention. I think the reason why I ignore it is because other family members "mess" with my organization. Err! Still, if I got rid of half of the expired car maintenance coupons and junk mail-like stuff, I'd be happier. I really like your categories.

BTW, I home school one of my kids too.

:-) Marion

Trixie said...

My emergency clean tactic is to close the door. Heh heh wish I could do that :)

Roxanne said...

Marion--The hole puncher! Until you said that, it NEVER crossed my mind to have it down there on the floor with me to do that part ahead of time. Brilliant! I'm adding it to my plan...

What age are you homeschooling?

Roxanne said...

Trixie--That's the TRUE emergency plan!

K Quinn said...

Look at you! (smiling). My husband talks about me and lists too. I like your emergency desk declutter plan. I need one for my little kitchen area desk. Everyone uses it for their drop off and it's small so easily overwhelmed. I need to declutter it each day...Off to make a list...

Roxanne said...

K Quinn--We list makers need to stand together against the scoffers!

We're a very misunderstood group, you know.

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