A desk completely free of paperwork and folders has been my illusive goal for many years. While the coming of the digital age certainly helped reduce my paper load, there are always time-sensitive, physical files and supportive documents that have to be stored somewhere, at least temporarily. Scanning was a partial solution, but not a complete one.
This year, I finally achieved a bare desk and have kept it that way. In the past, two main hurdles seemed to stand in the way of my quest for a clean workspace:
1. Fear of Forgetting: If I didn’t keep that urgent file on my desk, I sometimes forget to address it. I suffered from the classic disorder, “out of sight, out of mind.”
2. Fear of Losing Time: If I filed the paperwork, even close by, I might not recall exactly where I put it. Each paper-bound project had its own file and in a year’s time I could have hundreds. Even if I filed things alphabetically, if I didn’t remember exactly how I labeled a file or its specific contents, I could waste time looking through scores of files.
This year I finally did it. I now maintain a paper-free desk. It is refreshing to arrive at my desk and find nothing on it. What is the payoff? I no longer feel distracted or overwhelmed. And, I can be far more creative and immediately so. Here’s what I did differently: