“Untidy desk, tidy mind”, right?  Sorry but that’s not what the research tends to show.

Although it’s nice to get the mini “aha” moment, when you find something on your desk/in your office that you knew was there, it comes at the cost of possibly hours each week searching through stacks of paper (lots of different sets of seconds and minutes added up.)

Perhaps more importantly, the distraction of seeing something and being reminded of another thing you need to do distracts you from the task in hand.


“I might…” thinking

The root of the problem here tends to be “I might” thinking.  In other words, I might need this to hand over the next week or so, or I might have time to read this later, when I’m not quite as busy as I am now (!)  This is difficult, but I would consider abandoning “I might” thinking.  You almost certainly won’t have time to read the stuff you would ideally like to, and if you are likely to need something, then put it where you can go straight to it, rather than having it in amongst a huge pile of “just to hand” stuff!

The same goes for shortcuts on your desktop and overly complex folder systems, particularly in email.  These days, most documents could easily be filed in at least two different places and often several and anyway the search functions that come with email and the Office suite mean that you can generally go to exactly what you want straight way. Not to mention the difficulties of sharing idiosyncratically stored files or someone else trying to find them when you’re off on holiday.

Spend less time electronically filing things according to a system that may have worked for you three years ago.  I know it’s painful to abandon long-treasured systems, but it may just save you a significant amount of time and frustration.

Don’t be chained to old ways of doing things and don’t be bound by “truisms” about yourself that may have been helpful once, but are probably holding you back now.

And if you need a new aphorism, then “Untidy desk, indecisive person” is harsh, but might have a grain of truth to it.


Click on this link if you want consider how to change old habits

Click on this link to consider the pros and cons of perfectionism!