From the steady stream of paperwork, constant interruptions and the onslaught of emails, finding the time to keep an organized workspace can be very challenging. Even more than that, if there isn’t a simple and efficient system to manage papers, emails and other productivity tasks, work performance can suffer and businesses can be negatively impacted. Not to mention the overall stress it can cause.

In fact, studies and data show that the average person spends 4.3 hours per week looking for paperwork while also wasting an hour of productivity every day searching for missing information.

But, getting organized doesn’t have to be a monumental task where you spend hours every day for weeks at a time. Just like any other project, it’s best to do tasks in small steps. You’re probably wondering, then what’s a good first step? Start by clearing the top of your desk.

To achieve high levels of productivity, organizing your desk will help your mind be more clear and focused. Having stuff like papers, office supplies, personal items, cups, books and food can clutter up your desk and make focusing very difficult.

Here’s a simple desk clearing strategy I teach my clients. I call it, Stressed? Stop and Sort.

When you start to feel stressed, overwhelmed or unproductive at your desk, take a moment to stop what you are doing to clear off your desk. Then, sort the items on your desk into three categories:

  1. Paper
  2. Items that belong in your workspace and
  3. Items that belong in another space.

(I recommend having three bankers boxes handy whenever you need to do a quick clear and sort of your desk.)

Using this technique, you will be able to clear off your desk in 15-30 minutes. After you are done, if you have the time to put things back in their proper home at the moment, do it. If you don’t, commit to doing it by the end of the day.

Once you see your desk clear, your mind will become more clear and your productivity will increase.

If after the clearing, you are still left with paperwork that doesn’t have a proper home, then developing a paper management system would be another good project to work on.

Don’t have the time to figure out a paper management system on your own? I have created super simple and easy-to-implement systems to not only manage papers, but projects, emails, tasks and time as well.