Simple "Recipe Style Techniques" for
Organizing Your Desk
Please note: This section is extremely lengthy and has been creatively
designed to assist you when you are finally ready to uncover your missing
Desk-top -- at your leisure.
I highly suggest taking several "before" pictures prior to starting this
project. You will be absolutely amazed at the results you achieve in
following this simple recipe and you may appreciate the pictures at a later
When you have completed the recipe we believe you will be very proud of the
results and once again ...remember to take the "after" shot!
There will be 12 specific "Hot Picks" recommended in this recipe as well as "how" to use them. So make sure you check out the products mentioned and do your ordering/pick up prior to D-Day.
So, you think your desk is there somewhere? Don't worry we'll help you find it!
The desk, where is it -- it's gotta be near...
I'll just lift up these papers -- I swear it's right here!
I'm a left-brained person (I tell myself)...
So organized and neat -- no mess on my shelves!
Take time, don't panic, relax, don't move,
In no time at all you'll be in the groove.
My office is neat -- well most of the time.
The guys at the office...yuk, nothing like mine!
They dump stuff around and things fall to the floor,
paper clips, pencils, and pens galore!
My right-brain responds to its left-brained pal
And working together I'll be a new gal!
I swear from now on, I'll not procrastinate
To keep all things in order, as Julie states...
For this lady will give me organizational tips
I'm so inspired with words exuding from her lips!
My filing system is so intact you'll be inspired,
For Julie can help you achieve what you desired!
Julie's newest thing is -- wire basket files,
They are neatly stacked and help with the piles.
She says it's real easy -- brings about change,
In just 21 days you'll be re-arranged.
At home, at the office -- don't be chaotic
When you're organized, it's absolutely melodic!
With work habits changed, you'll never believe
The new energy you have is such a reprieve!
So here's to Julie and her organizational skills
It couldn't be better... no fuss and no frills
With zealous enthusiasm, I can't wait to get started
Old mess, old habits...forever parted!
by Grace West '94
What a great poem! One of my dear, sweet, creative clients wrote this as a
testimonial of her dilemmas in dealing with a huge hunk of wood in her office,
aka: the office desk! The reason I shared this poem is because far too many
of you out there think:
"I am the only one with this dilemma."
"No one else has this problem."
"I'm suppose to be able to handle this myself."
"I couldn't possibly ask for help -- I'm too
Well, I am here, to tell you: "you are not alone!" Not by a long shot! No way JoseŽ! There are literally a large staggering number of people besieged with the same situation around the globe.
Might I interject a dose of reality here?
How in heavens name are you suppose to tackle this great feat if you were
never taught the processes and steps involved to getting organized?
You see, organization is not taught in school and if you didn't grow up
learning these skills as a child you might be torturing yourself unnecessarily with futile attempts that continue to leave you quite disheartened. This only causes more discouragement and renders feelings of:
"Something is wrong with me --
"I should be able to do this on my own."
Whoa! Not so!
That is why this website is here! To empower you with the necessary tools in
a simple, fun, step-by-step process so that you can acquire the necessary
So chill out ...take a load off your feet ...release all that pressure you
put on yourself ...take a deep breath and read on. Oh, feel free to jump in
at any time and start tackling that desk, you'd be surprised at how simple
the process really is once we break it into "chewable chunks" for you!
Addressing The Ol' Dumping Habit...
OK now. Fact: the desk in many an office becomes a dumping area for anything
It's OK. Let's be honest here, I see all those dirty dishes, scraps of
paper, last weeks mail, screws, loose change, batteries, tons of paper, old
film, business cards from networking, dental floss, cd's, stacks of files,
rolls of undeveloped film, party invites, diskettes, old journals, extra
computer cables, nail clipper, dog's leash (uh -- it's buried -- I see the
chain clip), Mikey's boxcars, fundraiser requests, check statements, pay
stubs, Suzi's hair brush ...only to name a few immediately visible items.
Our goal today is unearthing the bottom of this wonderful office tool and
discovering what it actually looks like again! I will give you helpful tips
on getting it organized and teach you how to keep it organized!
I assure you that this will be a FUN experience as well as give you a chance to finally tackle your organizing challenges in the office without feeling defeated. C'mon now -- we are here to cheer you on ...as Nike says let's: "just do it."
How To Use This Section...
In following these simply stated, recipe style steps, I have increased the
possibilities of you mastering this task lickety-split! I highly suggest
reading through the entire recipe for organizing the office desk prior to
starting. In this manner you can take a peek at some of the products I feel
will greatly contribute to your efficiency and effectiveness. Besides, I
have searched HIGH and low for the most reputable products to suit your
needs. Especially products that make getting organized more fun in the
Oh, you didn't know? Getting organized is ALL about having fun...in order
for you to do what you do best in life!
Some Things To Keep In The Back Of Your Mind...
- See the "Hot Picks" located in the Library section for product recommendations
and decide which organizing tools you may be lacking and which appeal to your
- Create a "to purchase" list as you peruse the "Hot Picks" section
for product recommendations.
- After you have decided which office organizing tools you will need in
following this desktop organizing recipe, and have made your purchases
... setup a real, live, genuine target date for this project.
- Now, "X" out the entire day. I promise you will be able to complete this task with my gentle guidance and simple "how to's!"
Good luck, enjoy and remember... have fun!!
A Few Guidelines Along The Way...
Snacking and coffee breaks are permissible -- as long as you break in short
intervals of 10 minutes every hour. After all, I want you to think of this
task as fun, not drudgery, yet we need to complete the office desk by a
reasonable hour and we wouldn't want you to burn out in the process.
When To Start?
If your office desk appears to be a real organizing challenge, then I
highly suggest starting early in the morning to tackle this fun job. Oh
c'mon, let's lighten up now ...we have a choice to view this as something
empowering and fun for ourselves...or a laborious task.
I CHOOSE EMPOWERMENT - YES!!!
You are GREAT! You are TERRIFIC! You are AWESOME!!! Let's see your true self
shine through in clearing away the clutter. I KNOW you can do it!! You have
far too much to offer the world and dis-organization is holding you back
from achieving your true dreams.
Trust me on this one! You probably can no longer fathom the REAL amount of stress you are carrying as extra baggage in attempting to be your best in a dis-organized state ... until you experience the bliss of other side.
Let me tell you a quick story:
Recently, a client of mine traveled extensively on the Mainland (we live in
Hawai'i and fondly refer to the contiguous states this way). In his ventures
he realized he inadvertently left pertinent information at home.
In order to retrieve the information he contacted his roommate and asked him
to "go into the left file cabinet, the 4th file drawer down, 1/2 way into
the files and locate the label called "X", to retrieve the paper in the file
folder marked "Y". To his utter amazement he recalled exactly where the
information was located and received the missing data from his roommate!
Is this empowering or what? Morale of the story? He expressed that the long
distance call was reduced by several dollars in comparison to what it could
have been prior to getting organized AND his roommate was amazed!
I personally felt an urgent need to ask: "could you have done this before?"
He replied: "HA! Are you kidding? My roommate would have hung up on me if I
had made such a request in the past!"
Hmmmm...food for thought?
- Now make sure you have no commitments for the day you designate to
organize your desk. This day belongs to you and your desk.
- Turn on the answering machine because we wouldn't want any excuses to
pull you away from the task at hand.
- Put on your favorite kind of music. Why of course! See... I told you
this would be fun!
ONWARD and UPWARD!
Ingredients for Organizing Your Desk
- 1 lb. of tolerance
- 5 cups of sincerity
- a healthy dose of honesty
- 6 tbsps. of persistence
- a sprinkle of diligence
- a smidgin' of wit
- 1 pkg. of manila envelopes
- magic marker -- color optional
- pencil sharpener
- sharpened pencils
- trash basket
- desk drawer organizer
- several big heavy trash bags
- 5 large boxes for sorting labeled:
- dirty dishes
- recycling center
- return to proper room
- return to sender
- empty box
- a good cleaning agent
- your favorite mug or holder
- calendar (desk or wall)
- halogen desk lamp
- diskette/CD organizer
- personal items making your desk "Home Sweet Home"
How Long Will This Take...
Now, everyone always asks: "How much time do you think it will take?" (And
we wonder why kids always ask "how much longer until we get there?") The time
invested is dependent on the size of the desk, the amount of papers and the
time you last spotted the desktop.
Hmmmm, that reminds me of a desk I recently worked on with a client. It took
us 4 hours to hit bottom. In the process of the final layer, we discovered a
desk calendar dated November 1993! That was the last time they had seen
their desk top! So, you see, there is hope for all of you and puleeeze
remember ...be gentle with yourself -- you are not alone!
The Not So Obvious, Obvious...
- Before we even start I have to ask you: "do you have a desk for your
office?" I know you are in the Home Office section of 1, 2, 3, SORT IT
and I know we are dealing with desks at the moment, yet you would be
surprised at how many offices I have dealt with that don't have this
integral tool -- especially Home Offices!
- You cannot expect to stay on top of things or maintain a neat and
organized work area if you constantly have to set up on a kitchen
table. Utilizing the kitchen table will become a bothersome eyesore
because you are constantly all spread out . It will also be more
difficult to clear papers in an organized fashion for easy future
access. Not to mention the fact that many people eventually lose the
use of this eating space permanently!
- So, step number one is understanding that you deserve a real desk and
need to view it as an investment in yourself.
- Locate a "used office furniture store" in your area. Get to know the
owners real well and let them know what you are looking for. Many will
give you a call when one comes in sometime in the future. You'd be
surprised at the quality of furniture that many of these stores carry!
(I once located a $500 Steelcase office chair for $75 for a client --
the deal of a lifetime!)
Oftentimes, the owners get to purchase furniture that has never been
used! It may have a slight scratch or ding, which warrants a very happy
face on your behalf, in regards to the price tag!
- Please, whatever you do, do not settle for a desk...it's worth it if you have
to wait until you get what you need, want and like! You deserve it --
- One last point in purchasing a desk. Make sure you take your office
measurements in advance so that you know precisely the space you are
- Also, refrain from purchasing some of these desks that are hitting the
market for the "smaller office." They are making 24" depths that just
are not conducive to enough desktop surface for working. Let alone the
fact that these desks won't handle a computer comfortably. This is
not a deal -- regardless of the price tag.
Now, once you get a desk that's a whole different story and that's why you are
here at this moment! You wouldn't want your desk to become a work station of
U.P.O's. (Unidentified Piled Objects), and you want to avoid acquiring your
"desk PhD." (Piles Higher and Deeper).
OK. For those of you with a real live desk now (yes, there are living
creatures in many of the ones I've seen) I want you to understand that many,
many, many people get behind in maintaining their desk. Starting now, the
size of your desk (or lack of) is no longer a good excuse for remaining
dis-organized. Got it? Procrastination on organizing the desk ends as of
Today is "D-DAY"
- The first step is to weed through, sort and dispose (yup, you heard me,
t-r-a-s-h ), a great deal of those papers you are collecting. Let's
face it ...if you haven't found these papers in the last 6 months how
important are they?
- Remember, 80% of what we will find today is too old to deal with,
expired data, illegible due to food stains, or just not as important as
we really thought.
- We desperately need to make some decisions regarding this paper and
selectively save what is truly valuable information. Put on your
"critique cap" and gather "a healthy dose of honesty from the desktop
organizing ingredients" and let's go for it!
CPR For The Desktop...
- From the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients" above, select one large trash
bag and keep it close by. Feel free to utilize additional garbage bags
on an as needed basis.
- Place all 5 boxes from the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients" in a
central location in the office. We will sort items immediately as we
discover them, while avoiding unnecessary side-trips. I wouldn't want
to lose any of you off on a tangent here. You know what I mean ...you
return the hammer to the garage and before you know it ...Poof! Gonzo!
You decide to finally fix Johnny's bike or do a load of laundry! Funny
how that works...
- Although we will proceed by grouping the "keepers" initially, please do
not be shy about tossing what is really useless, outdated,
unidentifiable or unsalvageable as you pass them by. It's time you lay
much of this stuff to R.I.P.
- Remember, you can recycle any paper and materials that are beyond
identification and avoid those landfills! Just grab the ol' recycling
box from the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients" and be proud that you are
not only cleaning up your immediate office environment -- you are
creating a better environment for your children's children.
Sorting Piles And Stuff...
- First of all eliminate any food items you spot immediately. If the item
is boxed and uncontaminated, reach for the organizing box labeled
"return to proper room" from the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients." Toss
the item in this box for later delivery.
- Any food groups that are growing and showing signs of life, need to be
tossed into the garbage bag pronto!
- If you choose to expand on the above step, quickly scan the entire
office for any other food items that you may easily spot (or if you
have a stash somewhere). By incorporating this step now, you will
eliminate it later when we tackle the rest of the office. Just stay
focused in the process. See you in 5 minutes!
Wow! It's starting to smell better already! Let the sun shine...let the sun
- Utilizing the box labeled "dirty dishes" from the "desktop organizing
ingredients" let's collect all food containers of any and all sorts
that need to be washed or tossed. You know, old dinner plates from who
knows when, the plastic container loaded with stale chocolate chip
cookies, coffee mugs from last week holding insipid java at the bottom,
yeeks ...it's green now! Yesterdays lunch that you didn't have time to
eat, those old burger doodle wrappers, empty cans of soda .... what's
this? The cat's food dish? And your cat disappeared 6 months ago? Hmmmm
...and wait ...I see a Ben and Jerry's ice cream container -- sure hope
- Now, moving right along -- the next category is magazines and
catalogues. Select the box labeled "recycling" from the "Desktop
Organizing Ingredients." Start weeding through the magazines. Discard
any magazines older than six months.
- Understand that much of what we subscribe to is outdated in as little
as 6 months ...especially computer magazines and you receive four
- Realize that if you haven't read them yet ...you probably still don't
have time to get to them.
- Scan the index, and I mean scan -- avoid taking the time to read at
- See if there is an article that is really important. If so, rip the
article out of the magazine. Staple the pieces together and place the
article in a manila folder labeled "to read."
- Pile the "keeper magazines" in a separate area for organized storage later on
when we tackle the whole office.
- The product of choice for segregating magazines in an organized fashion
is the acrylic magazine organizer. Depending on your budget,
alternative models may be purchased in heavy duty plastic or corrugated
cardboard. The products can be found at Hold Everything or your local office
- Understand, that we are looking for durability here. Keep in mind that
you want to avoid replacing the magazine organizer due to wear and tear
in the near future. This, like all organizing products is an investment.
- If your budget does not currently warrant an organizer that will be
durable ...maybe you will want to save for this important office tool?
You'll save $$$ in the long run when choosing a product that will last!
See our Library section (Fall '99) and view our past "Hot Picks" for product recommendations.
- OK. Now business journals and periodicals are often saved as reference
material for a later date by many entrepreneurs. Pile these magazines
by category and once again utilize the magazine organizer of your
choice to segregate this reference material.
See our Library section (Fall '99) and view our past "Hot Picks" for product
Business Card Stuff:
- The next item we will search for is business cards. Ugh! The little
beasties are all over the place! Right?
- Take 3 Tbsps of honesty from the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients." Snag
as many of these cards that you can lay your eyes on -- immediately!
- Now I want you to really scrutinize the cards in your hand. Do you
really want them? Will you ever utilize their services? Will you really
refer them to someone else? Are they reputable? Do you even remember
who they are?
- The next time someone passes you a business card don't be afraid to
toss it when you get home if you are not interested in their services.
Let's face it, the vast majority of the time we take many business
cards out of politeness.
- The next time you take a business card that is of importance, jot down
on the back of the card when you met them, where you met them and any
other pertinent information to jog your memory at a later date. Hint:
The date on the back of the card will also aid you in tossing the card
the next time you weed through the Rolodex.
- Speaking of which ...when was the last time you weeded though your
Rolodex? Hmmm, seems like it's time ehh? All you have to do is sort
through and toss all cards that have not been referenced in the last
1.5 years max.! Don't be afraid to toss it now ...if you haven't referred to
the card by now -- in all reality -- you probably never will. Fact. It's OK -- just do it!
- So how does one organize all the business cards after the weeding?
Invest in a "personal punch" for your business cards in order to insert
them directly onto your rolodex. See our Library section (Spring '99) and
view our past "Hot Picks" for product recommendations. Merrick and Rogers
both make this product -- for as little as $7.00 and it's a lifesaver!!!
- Use your personal punch, then staple the business card directly onto
the Rolodex card. Indicate on the back of the Rolodex file card any
pertinent information you may have written on the back of the business
- No time to do the weeding you say? Can you perform this simple task as
you watch T.V. or while you're chit-chatting on the phone? You'd be
surprised what you could accomplish while doing this task during a
mindless function. Insert a post-it where you last left off and resume
at your next opportunity until this weeding is completed.
- Now to further organize your Rolodex -- check out the nifty little product we carry
in "Orders To Go" The Jr. File can ONLY be purchased at this website. It is a
remarkably innovative tool that organizers your Rolodex to a level you never
dreamed of -- for only $5.00 / package of 12!
It's time for a cup of java, tea, juice or a piece of fruit! See you in 10
Ahhhhh, just what the Organizing Doctor ordered!
Paper Pile Outlaws...
- Alright! Now we're heading towards the paper piles here. Not to worry
-- we have some easy questions to help you decipher whether they are a
"yea or nay." Take 5 cups of sincerity from "Desktop Organizing
Ingredients". We need it ALL here!
- It will also greatly help if you have (4) wire baskets (preferably the ones made
by Fellowes) to assist you with this task.
See our Library section (Winter '97) and view our past "Hot Picks" for product
- Now roll up your sleeves because this will be the worst of it. I won't
kid you here. Take 10 very healthy sprinkles of diligence from the
"Desktop Organizing Ingredients" and let's go for it! Understand that
after this portion is complete you've hit "easy street."
- You will need to take some of the manila interior files folders (or
color coded folders if you'd prefer), or some of your slash pocket
folders from our "Desktop Organizing Ingredients" for this next step.
See our Library section (Winter '97) and view our past "Hot Picks" for product
- In order to process the papers in this next step I need you to add in a
healthy dose of honesty from the "Desktop Organizing Ingredients." I want
you to seriously answer the following questions as you approach each
and every paper, in order to assist you in making knowledgeable
Friend Or Foe Stuff...
- The most workable daily paper management system falls into only 5
slots. Using the "5 basket system," See our office resource section for
product recommendations, each paper will fall into one of the following
- To Do
- To Read
- To File
- The following compiled list of categorical questions will give you a
better idea of what to ask yourself when handling papers on a daily
basis. This system REALLY WORKS. You just need to be totally honest
with yourself -- that's all.
And now a note from our gracious Hostess....
Aloha one and all!
Welcome to Office Desk Section of the 1,2,3 SORT IT website! I'm thrilled you could stop by for a visit!!
A quick note about 1,2,3 SORT IT. Since the unveiling of this website back in January 1997, the entire "Office Desk Organizing Recipe" has been at the disposal of literally thousands of people each month. (Pssst, there is another one in the Residential Organizing section for organizing your Kitchen too!)
Many accepted my challenge of "Give it a shot on your own" with incredible success!!! I have literally received hundreds of emails from people all over the world expressing their delight in what they accomplished by following this recipe. YIPEEEE!!! Many are even posted in "Success Stories."
I made this "Office Desk Organizing Recipe" available to test the waters because I truly believe what I have created can assist you in organizing your desk! No matter who you are; where you live; or how organizationally challenged you are at this point in time!
The most repeated comment I get from people is: "Finally someone not only told us WHAT to do -- you have told us HOW to do it!"
Yet, the time has now come to move the "Office Desk Organizing Recipe" in entirety, to it's new home: "Registered Members."
For a nominal fee you can now download the full "Office Desk Recipe" on our secured server. The fee is ONLY $8.00 per recipe! Such a deal!!!
Please note: if you were some of the thousands of people who found this website a while ago and downloaded the "Office Desk Organizing Recipe" -- it's the same one -- just minor changes have been incorporated!
When you enter the Registered Members area, you will be prompted for a credit card, which will then go through the gyrations of checking for authorization. Just hang on while it goes through the "check and clear" process. Once your credit card has been accepted, you will have access to download the recipe of your choice.
If you are interested in another recipe, just go back to the Registered Members section and fill in the required information once again.
New recipes are now in the making. If you wish to be contacted when we release future updates -- please sign the Guestbook and you will be added to our "Confidential Database." Remember, if you change your email id in the future you must contact us to make the change, in order to keep you updated on the latest and greatest from 1,2,3 SORT IT!!
Much Aloha and Happy Organizing!!
President: The PHOENIX Organizational Consulting Service
CEO: 1,2,3 SORT IT Organizing Solutions -- Innovative Tools
NSA Member, NAPO Member
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