National Clean Off Your Desk Day - After

Happy National Clean Off Your Desk Day! I'm happy to announce that I have fulfilled my commitment, and my desk is clean. Yippee! There's something really satisfying about having a clean desk, don't you think?

First, to refresh your memory, click here to look at the "Before" picture.

And now, the results:

Actually, it didn't take me as long as I thought it would, just about two hours. The job began slowly, because I started out sifting through stacks of papers and it didn't take long to feel a bit overwhelmed. What in the world was I going to do with all that stuff? I quickly realized I needed to come up with a Plan of Attack. When I organized my approach, things moved much quicker. I even hung some award certificates on the wall above the desk, something I've been meaning to do for several months but just never got around to.

Though my husband will laugh his head off at the idea of me giving cleaning tips to anyone, I thought I'd share my approach. Who knows, someone might find it helpful.

Categorize - Though at first it just looked like a big mess, I soon discovered that all those miscellaneous pieces of paper could be organized into different categories. I sat on the floor and created several piles -- Tax Receipts, Bills, Insurance, Book Ideas, Speaking Topics, Conferences, Editor Correspondence, Supplies, etc. Then I tackled the mess and put each piece of paper in one of my piles.

Trash - If I came across something that didn't fit into one of my categorized piles, I made a quick decision -- Is it more than a year old? Do I have an electronic copy? Under what circumstance might I need to refer to it again? I was able to throw out more than I anticipated. (I got rather ruthless about this after a few minutes!)

Relocate - Some of the things sitting on my desk really belonged elsewhere. For instance, I found a couple of packages of batteries, and we have a drawer for batteries in the kitchen. I threw these things into a pile near the office door. (I didn't dare take the batteries to the other room right then, because if I left the office I would get sidetracked from my task.)

File - Once I'd gone through every piece of paper (and filled a big garbage bag), I created a file for each pile. I didn't have enough file folders, so for some I labeled large manilla envelopes. If you look closely, you'll see these folders and envelopes to the left of the small printer.

Straighten - Some parts of my desk just needed to be straightened up, such as the books on the top of the credenza (writing resources, and my own published books between the two wacky mushroom dudes), and the office supplies in the middle shelf between the printers.

Dust - I'm embarrassed to admit that there was a fairly hefty dust build-up around the edges of the piles. It was really, really satisfying to spray the cleared desk with Lemon Pledge!

Simple! The worst part of the whole thing was gearing myself up to the task. Once I got started, it wasn't bad at all. And now every time I walk by the office, I find myself pausing in the doorway to admire my clean desk. I'm sure I can write some terrific books at a desk that clean!

How about you? Did you meet the challenge to start off 2010 with a clean desk? How long did it take? Any tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them.

Does anybody know if there's a National Clean Out Your Closet Day? I really need one of those!