All the efficiency experts say it – a neat, clear desk dramatically improves productivity.
But what’s the best way to achieve it?
I’ve spent over 20 years studying productivity and efficiency in the workplace, and I’ve found the following technique really useful.
Try it yourself and watch that desk get neat and stay neat.
Ask A Better Question.
I call the technique The Golden Question.
All you do is change the traditional question you ask yourself when you’re deciding whether to throw away something on your desk. The usual question people ask themselves when evaluating whether to keep or toss something is “Will I need it again?”
If you always ask that question, and most people do, you will keep many, many items and documents. A messy desk is thus virtually assured.
But if you just change the question you ask to The Golden Question then you will evaluate items on your desk in a completely different way.
The Golden Question is, “Can I get this again if I need it in the future?”
Once you start habitually asking this question you get a totally different result and a far neater desk. The simple reason being that the number one cause of an untidy desk is far too much stuff on it. If we threw 90% of desk items out (and then if we occasionally needed it again then got it from somewhere else) then desk untidiness would dramatically be reduced.
You May Not Be As Disorganized As You Think.
The breakthrough is the realization that your desk isn’t necessarily messy because you’re chronically disorganized, it’s more likely to be because you save stuff rather than ruthlessly throwing it out. That’s an important distinction to make.
With this system you totally change your thinking; you assume you will throw almost everything out – and then later go looking for another copy of it should you need it. (Which as we all know is highly unlikely).
Yes it’s extreme, but for most people an extreme method is what’s called for to eradicate the mountains of papers and paraphernalia that envelope their desktops. Unless you change the habitual question you ask yourself when you’re evaluating what should stay on your desk and what should go, you’ll likely always suffer from desk messiness – and the low productivity that usually stems from it.
Try asking The Golden Question each day for the next week and watch your desk (and your mind) get clear.